Welcome to the last edition of SydWest Multicultural Services' Community Connections newsletter for 2019....we hope you enjoy the reading.
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Summer 2019 Edition

Welcome to the last edition of SydWest's Community Connections for 2019, our quarterly newsletter that brings you our news and events and more.

CEO Message

While the holiday season is a joyous time for most of us, it is also a challenging period for many others. For some people, the highly family-oriented nature of the festive season can be a painful reminder of being apart from their loved ones. For others, the spirit of gift-giving and celebration can be a harsh economic burden.
The festive season is a good time for us all to reflect and appreciate what makes our lives meaningful. As individuals, it is a time we should – and often do - become a little more emotionally involved in the welfare of our fellow human beings, and many of us do our best to give back to those in need.
For large corporations, the festive season can be a great opportunity for to make good on their social purpose. By this I mean more than simply the optics of volunteering at a local soup kitchen, but truly checking in on the social purpose that will cut across the entirety of their business and engage stakeholders and employees.
Readers recently reacted to the latest U.S Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, which pledged that corporations move away from the model of prioritising shareholder interests. The commitment, signed by the CEOs of multinationals like Amazon, PwC and Target, aims to move towards a more holistic model aimed at delivering value for all stakeholders and supporting the communities in which they operate.
There is a lot of scepticism around the ongoing tussle between profit and social responsibility. Such statements can create further tension at a time of sky-high profits and increasing socio-economic inequality and displacement.
This is our call out to the corporations that sincerely understand meeting their social purpose can strengthen their brand and help them engage more meaningfully with their employees.
A call out for a purpose that will create value and provide meaningful impact to the communities they operate in. It is my impression that many companies have not yet realised that a social purpose has the power to create quantifiable business value for them.
IAG’s current Safer Communities Strategic Project in the Blacktown LGA is still in progress, following an extremely thorough and time-consuming discovery journey. The insurance giant’s objective is to have a positive impact on the key social issues present in this area and unlock new opportunities for change.
With Blacktown being the state’s fastest growing LGA – and with a population set to reach more than 500,000 by 2036 - the company sees an expansion of their existing customer base and an opportunity to reduce risk by ensuring the community is prepared for the risks they face and can mitigate them effectively. At the same time, many of their employees live in Western Sydney, so how the community looks and feels has an impact on their quality of life.
We have also recently seen Allianz’s support towards SSI’s Young Refugee Scholarships win them the Australian Human Rights Business Award. At the same time the company’s social purpose helps them counteract perceptions about humanitarian entrants, which has certainly made an impact on the broader community.
Organisations like SydWest and our sister agencies and Migrant Resource Centres can assist corporations to identify unmet social needs. The opportunities to enhance their own businesses should not be underestimated as they can enable companies to explore new technologies, become more efficient and attract more stakeholders or shareholders.
The holiday season is the perfect time for decision-makers to reflect on this proposition, engage your staff, and work with us to plan the impact your company can make.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Elfa Moraitakis


Annual General Meeting 2019

SydWest Multicultural Services would like to thank our respected stakeholders, community members, service providers, government agencies and elected representatives who joined us at the 2019 Annual General Meeting.
Hosted by BELA Graduate Parwin Taqawi, the event was a special opportunity to showcase the impact of our members’ work with clients from refugee and migrant backgrounds as well as outlining the future directions for SydWest Multicultural Services.
SydWest would like to thank our outgoing Chair, Chief Inspector Robert Fitzgerald for six amazing years. In addition to our returning Directors, we also welcome Chandrika Subramaniyan to the Board. Positions appointed following AGM: 
  • Raquel Ricafort-Bleza: Chair
  • Bridget Sarris: Vice Chair
  • Chandrika Subramaniyan: Treasurer
  • Secretary: Moninder Singh
  • Director: Vish Viswanathan
  • Director: Tamara Giles
  • Director: Karin Mckay
  • Director: Noel Hiffernan
We’d also like to extend our gratitude to our honoured guest speaker Joanna Quilty, CEO at the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS). In her role at the NCOSS, Joanna leads programs aimed at alleviating the effects of poverty and disadvantage in NSW and reducing inequality in our communities.
Joanna spoke about the findings of NCOSS’ latest report Mapping Economic Disadvantage in New South Wales, which found that in Sydney, the low-income rate of culturally and linguistically diverse people are more than twice as likely to live in a low-income household.
CALD people are disproportionately disadvantaged due to a lack of access to government services and employment opportunities, however the report also found that specialist service provision to assist CALD communities did have an impact.
One of the ways specialist providers make an impact is by educating communities about the services available to them. At the AGM, SydWest launched a series of videos that form part of our CALD Domestic Violence Prevention Project. (see to view You Are Not Alone).
Domestic violence is a serious issue in all communities, but one that is compounded in CALD communities due to a lack of knowledge or access to assistance, or cultural taboos around seeking help. If nobody makes an effort to challenge this status quo, domestic violence can become an engrained behaviour within a community group.
The videos launched at the AGM feature ambassadors from our Afghan, Indian and South Sudanese communities who aim to develop community members’ capacity to lead change amongst their peers, and collectively work to prevent domestic violence.
Additionally, SydWest launched Capturing the Moment: Images of Making Australia Home, a new photographic exhibition captured by our English Conversation Class volunteer tutor Judith Bennett. The images speak to the diversity of our clients and highlight the English Conversation Class’ role as a vital stepping-stone to successful settlement.
SydWest is proud of all its members’ achievements in 2019 and looks forward to continue its work facilitating successful settlement for migrants and refugees in 2020. CLICK HERE for a copy of the 2019 Annual Report
Images from SydWest's Annual General Meeting 2019

SydWest continues on SSI Board

Our CEO, Elfa Moraitakis has been re-appointed for the next 3 years in her position as a Director of Settlement Services International.

SSI is the leading agency of the NSW Settlement Support Consortium and the leading organisation providing Humanitarian Support in NSW. It is an organisation with a purpose and a social business supporting communities to reach their full potential locally, nationally and internationally. Formed in 2000, SSI is the state wide umbrella of all 11 Migrant Resource Centres and has successfully grown from a revenue of $9.4 million to more than $115 million supported by 800 staff members.

SydWest joins SCOA Board

Clement Meru, SydWest’s Community Services and Engagement Manager was elected a Director on the Board (2019-22) of Settlement Council of Australia at the Annual General Meeting held on 25 November 2019. The event was well attended and was supported by representatives from government departments including Steve Biddle (Department of Home Affairs), Shadow Minister Andrew Giles, Australian Multicultural Council Dr Sev Ozdowski as well as national peaks including Migration Council of Australia & Mohammad Al-Khafaji (CEO, FECCA).

Clement is one of two NSW representatives on SCOA’s board, with Melissa Monteiro elected the Chair for the 2019-22 term.

SCOA is the national settlement peak body, representing over 100 settlement agencies across Australia that provide direct services to people of refugee and migrant backgrounds.

SydWest recognised by Tamil Valarchi Mandram

Dr. Subramanyian, member of the Tamil Valarchi Mandram, acknowledging our CEO’s and SydWest contribution to the Thirukkural International Conference on Peace and Harmony that took place at Sydney University on 31st July 2019.

Vice Regal Visit to SydWest Multicultural Service

The SydWest Multicultural Services board and senior management team hosted Her Excellency the Hon. Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of New South Wales and Mr. Dennis Wilson at our head office in Blacktown on 17 October.
The visit, chaired by Robert Fitzgerald, Chair of SydWest’s Board and Chief Inspector of the Blacktown Local Area Command and  supported by Board Members Bridget Sarris (Treasurer), Dr Karin Mackay, Clr Moninder Singh and Vish Vishwanathan.
Senior management staff representing SydWest were Nikolayka Bentcheva, Corporate Services, Clement Meru, Community Services & Engagement and Alex Jeloudev, Aged Care & Disability Services was an excellent opportunity for SydWest to showcase our achievements working with refugees, migrants and CALD community members.

Her Excellency and Mr. Wilson visited our Filipino and Iranian Seniors Social Support Groups, who welcomed her with song and were excited to meet the Governor of NSW. Before leaving, the Governor and Mr. Wilson enjoyed a short tour of the SydWest office, meeting several staff members – all with their own multicultural backgrounds.

SydWest Multicultural Services looks forward to building ongoing links with the Governor of NSW, particularly to support opportunities for great impact and sharing the good news about the successful settlement and growth of newer residents in the Western Sydney area.
Full details of the announcement are available here.

BELA Graduation 2019

It brings us great pleasure to announce the graduation of twelve inspirational young people from the Blacktown Emerging Leaders & Advocates program for 2019, in a ceremony attended by graduates’ mentors, family and friends.
Our young leaders – all from refugee backgrounds – will now continue into Youth Advisory and Ambassador roles with SydWest, continuing the relationship and assisting with resettlement for future community members.
The Hon. Kevin Conolly, Member for Riverstone, Parliamentary Secretary for Education and representing Minister for Multiculturalism Geoff Lee delivered an address highlighting the vital importance of these emerging leaders to their communities and awarded graduates their certificates.
Participants in the BELA program attend a series of structured training sessions with experienced mentors, aimed at developing advocacy, community engagement, leadership and public speaking skills.
The six-month program is open to eligible youth aged 14-24, who are from a migrant or refugee background and are interested in social issues affecting young people from a similar background.
Information regarding the 2020 BELA program will be announced in the new year.

Upcoming Events

Don’t forget to check our Activities Calendar for details of all the various Groups and special events that SydWest is holding in 2020 at

Blacktown Business Lunch

Thank you to all who attended our Blacktown Business Lunch, held at the Blacktown Workers Club on 31 October, and special thanks to the Community Engagement team who worked tirelessly to ensure the event was a success.
Hosted in partnership with SSi, the Salvation Army, Blacktown Council and MECA, the event was aimed at improving outcomes for refugees, migrants and people with a disability to secure employment.
With more than 50 representatives from the corporate and community sectors in attendance, the event answered employers’ questions about hiring people from diverse backgrounds, including information about the range of supports and resources available to them.
The event also provided participants with information about the Blacktown Employment Accelerator, held at TAFE NSW Blacktown on  28 November.
For more information please contact our Settlement Services Team on telephone: 02 9621 6633.

SydWest enjoys ZOHRA 

Six lucky SydWest clients had the opportunity to attend a special performance by Zohra, Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra, at the Sydney Opera House in October.
The orchestra, from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, was touring Australia in celebration of he 100th anniversary of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence as well as the 50th anniversary of Afghanistan-Australia Diplomatic Relations.
Our SydWest representatives enjoyed Zohra’s distinctive sound, which harmoniously blends classical Afghan and Western instruments, and were invited to the post-event reception as special guests.
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Business Hours

Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:30pm
Please feel free to send mail to

Blacktown Office

PO Box 869, Blacktown NSW 2148
Level 2,125 Main Street, Blacktown NSW 2148
Phone (02) 9621 6633
Fax (02) 9831 5625

Castle Hill Hub

The Community Hub, Castle Hill Towers Shopping Centre, 6-14 Castle Street Castle Hill
(on Old Northern Rd, near Gold Class cinemas)
Phone (02) 9621 6633

Mt Druitt Hub

Shop 3, 6-10 Mount Street, Mt Druitt NSW 2770
Phone (02) 9625 0455
Fax (02) 9625 0322

Penrith Hub

Suite 113, Community Connection Building, 114-116 Henry Street, Penrith NSW 2750
Phone (02) 9621 6633

Rouse Hill Hub

Vinegar Hill Memorial Library, 29 Main Street, Rouse Hill Town Centre, NSW 2155
Phone (02) 9621 6633
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