Aboriginal Men’s group enjoy camping trip thanks to Aboriginal Affairs

On Thursday 25th March, our Aboriginal Men’s group went on a camping trip. This was a partnership between Western Sydney Aboriginal Men’s Group and NCNS with funding from Aboriginal Affairs. Bob Gordon – Western Sydney Aboriginal Men’s Group, Zach Nuttall – NCNS Aboriginal Project Worker and local Aboriginal man Dennis went and picked up the men from their houses and made their way down to Eden.

The men travelled to Eden to be on Country and to pay respects to one of their founding members. During the trip down to Eden, the men enjoyed listening to music, and a few of them caught up on some sleep. The men were amused during the ride as every time Greg would ask for a smoke break, they would hit a bit of roadwork, meaning they had to slow down and it would take longer for them to get their break! Greg was not impressed!

When the men got to Eden they unpacked and chilled for the remainder of the day. Bob cooked the men Silverside and sausages for dinner later that night. During the trip the men enjoyed cultural activities and yarn time on the beach, fishing and barbeques.

On the Friday, the men were taken into town to go fishing and also for a little walk to the lookout. Andrew was the only one to catch a couple of fish but threw them back in. They then enjoyed fish and chips for lunch.

The next day, the men went down to the beach, to have another go at fishing and also for a bush walk. That night they all went to the local pub, Great Southern Hotel in Eden for dinner, before going back to their cabins and having a yarn.

Sunday 28th March, the men got up early to make their way back to Penrith stopping at McDonalds for breakfast.

The weather was great and it was wonderful to get out of Sydney and onto country. The men from the group had an awesome time, they really enjoyed themselves and said that they would like to do more camps in the future. They especially enjoyed having each other’s company during the trip.

Zach Nuttall, NCNS Aboriginal Project Worker chuckled, “My favourite part of the trip was when we went for a bush walk and there were Kangaroos right next to us, I ran being scared thinking it was coming after me! I found that pretty funny and so did the other men there watching! Haha”

Our Aboriginal Men’s Group meets at Kooly on Wednesdays fornightly. If you would like to come along or would like some more information about this group, please call 02 4706 0280.

Action Packed School Holiday Program sees youth show determination and resilience

What an action packed School Holiday Program the NCNS Youth team had this April! With nearly 12 young people attending every day of the program. We were blessed with the weather and were mostly not affected by the rain.

Our first day of the program was a trip to Burns Obstacle Course (Ninja Warrior Outing). All of us had an amazing time and the staff there were always so welcoming. This was one of my favourite outings!

Generally in my experience young people  will push themselves to succeed at certain obstacles.

Young people gave each other support and you could see that they genuinely wanted the other youth to succeed. The young people who attended this day should be proud of themselves, many who displayed determination and resilience, skills they can use in all aspects of life.

 

The following day we took it easy at Umina Beach. Young people enjoyed the water, relaxed on the sand, in the sun and enjoyed each other’s company.

Next was Somersby Waterfalls.

Initially I was a bit unsure about this outing and how it would go with the young people but turns out we had a ball climbing underneath the waterfall and exploring the area!

For many of us that was the first time we had ever been under a waterfall, myself included. This was a wonderful experience to share with the young people in the program.

After a big week of outings, it was nice to chill out and enjoy our chilled Movie Night. We ate pizza and snacks while enjoying a classic, Happy Gilmore! Life couldn’t get any better and everyone had a great laugh.

On Monday 12th April, we took the young people to the Easter Show! For many of them  it was their first time attending the Easter Show. I loved hearing their stories of the rides they went on, the showbags they bought and the shows they enjoyed watching.

After a big day at the Easter Show, we thought there would be nothing better than going to Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre, where the youth could enjoy the cool water, the wave pool and playing their customary game of Marco Polo. They also found it quite amusing jumping all over me and trying to dunk me! Haha

Another chill day was great to just wind down.

Playing PS4 and Coup (card game), the young people also got to enjoy pancakes from the pancake van provided by Platform Youth Services. They were delicious and are thankful for our ongoing partnership with them.

The NCNS Youth School Holiday Program finished with a day out to Code Red Laser Tag. We had an amazing time working in teams and at times individuals. I am always amazed as how inclusive the young people can be.

As a youth worker, I feel blessed to know these great young people. They are truly respectful and I personally trust each and every individual. They have a great sense of humour and are so willing to share their lives with us. It is a true privilege. These amazing young people have the ability to achieve in whatever path they choose.

To get in contact with the NCNS Youth team please call 02 4706 0288.

Our diversity and differences is what creates stronger communities

Harmony Week is a time to celebrate Australian multiculturalism. It is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians. On the 31st March we had our wonderful event at St Marys Memorial Hall. We were all gathered to celebrate Harmony Day 2021.

NCNS is an active part of the Penrith Multicultural Interagency as we believe it is our diversity and differences that creates stronger communities. This event had a committee of over 10 services in the Penrith City area that have their time to support the organisation of this event.

The event was open with a Welcome to Country by Mitchell Beggs-Mowczan, Harmony Day ambassador.

We were also grateful to Penrith City Council Mayor Karen McKeown who gave a heart fulfilled speech explaining that since 2008, Penrith City has been a refugee welcome zone. We are one of the fast growing multicultural LGA welcoming citizens from all over the world.

With an amazing turn out of over 150 people we had countless cultural backgrounds represented. We had amazing performances that took us around the world from Asia to the Pacific Islands. St Marys Japanese community entertained the audience with a beautiful dance routine which was performed by some of our youngest ever dancers.

The Maltese community got everyone clapping with interactive line dancing, followed by a high energy belly dancer.

The Tokelau dancer captivated the audience with their beautiful dance and song paying their respects to their elders, the lands and the waters of their people.

Overall this event was a great way of uniting the communities after the struggles that we have faced over the past year. The spirit of community was alive and well making this Harmony Day one of the best we have so far.

New Young Parents Group Sees Parents Support parents while babies explore and discover

NCNS has run Nepean Young Pregnancy Support (NYPS) group in partnership with the Penrith Women’s Health Centre for many years.  NYPS is a group specifically for young pregnant women 25 years and under, created to overcome the stigma that can be associated with being a young parent, and reduce the barriers to seeking support in a safe, friendly and non-judgemental environment. NYPS is social with lots of stuff that you need to know about, and connects you to anything you need help with – housing, relationships, health and more. This group is a great support system for pregnant young mothers & their partners however there was a gap in continued support of these young mums once they had given birth to their babies. (Although many still return to NYPS to show off their beautiful babies once they are born!)

For this reason, this year we launched our new support group for young parents, Young Parents Support and Baby Care. This group was formed as a continuation after NYPS and welcomes all new young parents in the Penrith area. During Term 1, Young Parents and Baby Care met at Thornton Community Centre where parents benefited from guest services, information, early intervention avenues, and referrals to appropriate services. Young Parents Support and Baby Care provides a nurturing space to discuss and share the realities of being new parents. It also helps parents form positive relationships with services and other young parents in their area.

Both Mums and Dads come along to play, enjoy morning tea as well as participate in informal, and formal workshops and networking. Parents have discussions and information sessions in relation to starting solid food, depression and anxiety with parenting, as well as benefits of playtime and interactions with your baby.

The group has really come together and it has been fantastic to see parents helping each other.

Justine Reynolds, NCNS Community Development Worker, explained, “The most enjoyable aspect has been watching the new babies explore and discover!

Some of the new experiences babies have had during this group include:

Meeting other little babies

The ball pit, bubbles and parachute play.

After a good 2 hours of play, it is time for a nap!”

We hope to have services join us next term to share their expertise.

If you are interested in attending the Young Parents Support and Baby Care group, or would like some more information, please contact Justine on 02 4729 0442.

How we celebrated women this International Women’s Day

NCNS celebrated International Women’s Day during a morning tea with the Cranebrook Make Time Women’s Group and as a part of the Nepean Women Present project which was sponsored by Penrith Women’s Health Centre and Penrith City Council.

The amazing women from our Aboriginal Women’s group Koori Cuppa  designed and painted a mesmerising painting that represented their individual strengths as women.

This painting represents sacred lands, a meeting place for women of country to reflect on their journeys with the flow of water running through. The painting was created by Robyn Large, Cheryl Dodds, Morrisa Hita, Donna Large and Bridgette Hanlon

The artwork was launched at Penrith City Library and will be on display till the end of March.

Donna Large was captivating with her explanation of the artwork in front a room full of people. Well Done Donna for having the courage to share your story with the community!

 

 

 

Kooly kids dance group gives deadly performance at Aboriginal Eel Festival

Our Kooly Deadly Kids Dance group facilitated by Jessy from Nulungu Dreaming were invited to perform at the Eel Festival in Parramatta on the 7th March 2021.

The name ‘Parramatta’ is commonly translated to ‘the place where the eels lie down.’ The Eel Festival celebrates the Eel and its significance to the local Barramuttagal people, who would gather in autumn to trade goods and share stories. This festival is about learning, engaging with, and celebrating Aboriginal Culture. The day also included boomerang painting, weaving, Darug language workshops and a live eel display.

The dancers from our deadly dance group were very excited as for some this was there very first performance. The day started with an Acknowledgement to Country by Jessy who then shared some of his own stories, followed by a smoking ceremony performed by Uncle Wes.

We were so proud of our dance group who provided an incredible performance. Once the kids had performed, our Aboriginal Community Worker, Jen took the group to look around at Aboriginal artifacts and traditional Aboriginal homewares. The group listened to beautiful dreamtime stories by Uncle Wes before it was time to go home.

The dancers told us that their favourite part of the day was learning more about  Aboriginal culture and listening to the dreamtime stories.

If you would like to find out more about the Kooly Deadly Kids Dance group, please call Jen on 02 4706 0280.

We hope you enjoy watching some of Kooly Deadly Kids Dance group performance at the Eel Festival below:

Community Kids Clean up Community Centres for Clean Up Australia Day

During the week of the 1st  March to 5th March 2021, our young members of the NCNS community helped clean the environment around their local community centres.

The children enjoyed the task and were very proficient in discussing the benefits of keeping our community, environments clean.

The children took great pride it the amount of rubbish they collected and were disgusted in the amount of waste and how far it travels.

During brekky club the children completed  a huge clean up alongside activities and games which were all related to care of the environment.

KP Kids and Cranebrook Kids also as part of their afternoon fun activities assisted with the clean -up.

All together across the week the children collected 9 huge bags of rubbish. Thanks to clean up Australia day campaign for all the safety equipment and bags.

The most positive thing is that the children have continued on caring for their environment in the community.

All NCNS workers were inspired by the children’s enthusiasm and care being shown.

Ladies get free hearing checks for world hearing day thanks to Hearing Australia

World Hearing Day is held on the 3rd of March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss, and to promote ear and hearing care across the world.

This year NCNS partnered with Hearing Australia to conduct hearing checks on the ladies from our Make Time Women’s Group to support and encourage healthy ears.

Hearing Australia ‘are the nation’s largest provider of government-funded hearing services for children, young adults under 26, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, pensioners and veterans.’

With the world facing the Covid-19 Pandemic, hearing is more important than ever, with many people unable to visit friends and families, interstate or overseas, so many of us are now connecting via phone and video.

Hearing loss can make it difficult to hear your speech. The 2 most common causes of hearing loss are age and exposure to loud noise.

Hearing Australia states signs of hearing loss include:
– Asking people to repeat themselves
– Your family complaining the TV Volume is up too loud
– Ringing buzzing sound in your ears
– Straining to hear
– Missing out on every day sounds

10 women from our Make Time Women’s Group had their hearing checked with Sara from Hearing Australia. The test conducted was an initial hearing test that identified whether the ladies were hearing all the sounds played in the normal hearing range.

If they were able to hear all of these sounds, it was a great result and they were told to come back in 12 months to be tested again. If they were unable to hear all of the sounds, they would be advised to go in to Hearing Australia for a full hearing assessment with one of their audiologist to run a more extensive test in all areas of the hearing range.

Hearing loss can sometimes be hard to detect as it happens gradually over time. Hearing Australia states that, ‘The average Australian takes 7 years to get their hearing tested’ and ‘14.5% of the population currently experience hearing loss.

It is twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes and not many people are aware of this. Check out the Diabetes and Hearing Loss flyer for more information about this.

If you suspect a family member, friend or yourself may be suffering from hearing loss, you can try Hearing Australia’s Online Hearing Check which contains a few short questions and a 10 minute audio test.

If you are a pensioner, please contact Sara Garner from Hearing Australia to arrange a free hearing check.

If you would like to have your hearing assessed pleased contacted Sara Gardner to book in an appointment. Her contact details are as follow:

Sara Gardener – Community Hearing Advisor, Campbelltown, Penrith & Springwood
Phone: 02 4720 3400 or 0417 021 328
Email: Sara.gardner@hearing.com.au
Location: Shop 7, 140 Henry Street, Penrith NSW 2750

 

 

 

Source: https://www.hearing.com.au/

 

Children’s Fun Day

The Kingswood Park Kids Fun Day was held during the Christmas School Holidays as part of a Kingswood Park Kids Collective Community Grant established prior to COVID-19. The children held meetings and planning sessions, they learnt how to budget and look at the safety aspects of holding an event. Alongside these skills they began to realise the importance of negotiation and inclusion, often working through a long session of working out ways to make the groups majority apply.

It was a great catch up with the children and families in the local area after the Christmas break. After what had been a very disruptive year and often very confusing for children, they all enjoyed letting their hair down and having some fun whilst still being COVID-19 friendly.

NCNS put on some really fun and often messy play activities. The children’s favourite activities were Pie Face and making their own batch of slime. They also enjoyed Fortnite, Monopoly, ball games, art and craft and cake decorating were also throughout the day. The group is looking forward to more fun days in the future.

Check out the photos below!

Bra Gifting Days are helping women and girls receive extra support

This term, the NCNS Community Development team hosted two Bra Gifting Days thanks to Support the Girls Australia. Support the Girls Australia began due to CEO, Jane Holmes having a chance encounter with a dishevelled and malnourished 13 year old girl at a shopping mall, who had asked Jane if she had spare sanitary products she could give to her.  Jane of course, supplied the sanitary products and bought the young girl lunch, and listened to this girls story. Jane found out that the young girl had run away from home due to being sexually abused by her step father and had since been on the streets. When the girl showed Jane where she was living, Jane also met a weather beaten elderly women who had not owned a bra for 4 years and who showed Jane her severely infected breast tissue as a result of this.

After these two encounters, Jane spent a month researching available services that would support women with these issues and could not find one single Australian Service. Jane left her paid job to create a charity that would give disadvantaged women and girls access to underwear, toiletries and sanitary products.

Support the Girls Bra Gifting Days are all about empowering women with dignity and respect. The days provide women with bras, underwear, toiletries and menstrual hygiene products, encouraging a sense of self-worth and self-care. An important part of these Bra Gifting Days, is to connect with women face to face as many women of the women who attend are socially isolated for various different reasons. These events are great for women to meet other women like themselves.

NCNS Program Manager – Communities & Children, Robert Servine, first found out about Support the Girls Australia, while working at a previous role. Robert was working with a client who was a teenage girl who had not been taught about personal hygiene so was looking for a service that could teach her how to look after herself. Robert contacted CEO Jane Holmes and then connected with Maggie, the NSW Coordinator for Support the Girls.

Robert explained, “Support the Girls is a unique charity that fills a need in the community that no one else does. I knew the need was there, so we were thrilled to be able to host these Bra Gifting Days at our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre, to help fill this need and to empower women in our local community.”

Both events went incredibly well. The first event was for girls and 14 high school girls were properly fitted and ensured they had bras to start the school year. The second event on Wednesday 10th February was open to women of all ages, and we had 32 women receiving a proper bra fitting and bras to take home with them.  The Support the Girls volunteers were amazing. For the Back to School Event, they provided 6 volunteers and for the community event they provided 9 volunteers, alongside 2 bra fitters at each event. Hygiene products along with a lot of information were also provided to those who attended.

The community feedback has been extremely positive. Everyone left these events smiling.  Maggie told us that a few ladies told her how much this experience has helped them. One of the ladies has 14 grandchildren, that she helps to look after and has not had any time to look after herself. She only had one bra and it did not fit correctly. Another lady did not have any bras because she could not afford one, so she was so grateful to walk away with properly fitted bras.

The community response was incredible with our community event completely booked out and had a waiting list of 14 people. For this reason, the NCNS Communities team are now planning to do a Bra Gifting Day quarterly, moving forward with the next event this June 2021.

If you would like to get in contact with the NCNS Communities team please call 02 4729 0442 or email info@nepeancommunity.org.au

More than a word, a reflection on the Apology

Today is the 13th Anniversary of the National Apology to the stolen generations by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.  2021 is also the 20th anniversary for Reconciliation Australia. This years theme for Reconciliation Week is ‘More than a word: Reconciliation takes action.’ This means that we need more Australians to speak up, speak the truth, ask the hard questions and see the hard facts.

The Anniversary of the Apology and this year’s Reconciliation Week theme made me think about how far we have come and how far we still need to go, to become a reconciled Australia. As a non-Aboriginal Australian growing up in Australia, at school, when I was taught about the history of colonisation, they minimised and completely skipped over the traumatic experiences that Aboriginal people suffered. It was not until I worked for NCNS, alongside my Aboriginal colleagues and listened to their stories, and participated in cultural training, that I really got an understanding of the truth about Australia’s history and it was shocking. I could not believe that this information had been simply ‘left out’ of our education.

Since then, it has been really important to me to stand up, challenge stereotypes & mistruths that people around me might have and/or ignorant comments that they may say, to try and re-educate and open their minds as just like my younger self, many of my non-Aboriginal friends & family have been oblivious to the truth.

Although the road to reconciliation has been slow, I have hope that we can get there.

I remember having a heated discussion, a few years ago where I argued with a friend who had a strong belief in his own assumptions about Aboriginal people, the truth about Australia’s history of colonisation, and little empathy for our first nations past experiences at the hands of our government. I tried to explain to them what I had learnt from my Aboriginal colleagues and cultural training but we had to agree to disagree as we could not see eye to eye.

A few weeks ago, I was approached by this same friend, who came to tell me that all of their assumptions had shifted due to working closely with Aboriginal colleagues who had opened up their mind and shared their experiences, Aboriginal culture, and views. They told me how they now had a much better understanding of Aboriginal culture and that they thought their Aboriginal colleagues were amazing people and how they loved the way that their Aboriginal colleagues saw the world. I was so happy to see that someone who had thought so strongly one way, could have such a big change of heart.

This may seem like a small feat, but it is these small moments that can lead to real change.

As non-Indigenous Australians, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about the truth of Australia’s history, ask questions and listen to our first nations people who have lived here for over 65,000 years.

It is important to remember the Apology each year, so we can keep this fresh in our minds and work towards reconciliation every day through our thoughts, words and actions.

School Holiday Program January 2021

The NCNS Youth School Holiday Program is a great way for young people to meet new people in a safe, respectful environment. The young people are so accepting of new people. Participants get to indulge in new experiences, at times, push their barriers, fears and comfort zones in a supportive environment (workers included!) It is a priceless moment when a young person recognises what they have achieved!

Januarys NCNS Youth School Holiday Program kicked off with a day at Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre, which most of the young people attending had never been to before. In fact, most of this program’s outings were new for this group of youth. It was a wonderful way to start the program, swimming, going down the slide and having a fantastic time in the wave pool. All attendees were respectful of the area, each other and NCNS Youth Workers, Sami and Joe. The day had a chilled vibe with everyone being inclusive of each other and this vibe continued throughout the entire School Holiday Program.

On Day 2, everyone went off to Don Bosco, where they played pool, jumped on trampolines (a highlight of the day for many)and a few of us also played round the world on the basketball courts.

After two active days, the group enjoyed a chill day at the NCNS Youth Hub where they relaxed playing PlayStation and an intense game of Monopoly. It was a great day to catch up, hang out and have a yarn.

The highlight for the first week of the School Holiday Program was day 4 at the Penrith Ice Palace. Some of the young people there had never tried ice skating before. Throughout the day there was a huge amount of encouragement from each other to achieve. One of the youth commented, “If you fall, you just get back up!” Joe exclaimed, “I was so proud of that comment and the support that the young people gave each other during the day.” We had an additional friend that day, ‘Pingu the Penguin’ to help us out.

To begin to second week of the program, the group went on a trip to Fagan Park, in Galston. Fagan Park has a series of themed gardens around it that are exciting to explore. They spent the day walking around the park, exploring the gardens, playing cricket, playing on the equipment and just chilling out in the sunshine before having a delicious barbeque lunch and then heading home.

The following day was an action packed day at Jamberoo. The crew set off early, with some young people playing music during the journey to keep everyone entertained during the long drive. As soon as we arrived, everyone raced off so they could try and fit in as many rides as they could before lunch, only coming back to eat, a quick chat and then off again. During the day, many had the chance to face their fears by going on scary rides, going down the bob sled track and jumping off the massive rock. This included Youth Worker, Joe who went on the chair lift with support of the young people.

Everyone had a blast but by the end of the day the group was absolutely exhausted and most fell asleep of the way home.

Day 7, the youth group attended our Summer Lunch, a community day based at Kooly with a huge day of activities. There was a Slip ‘N Slide, cookie decorating, terrarium building as well as PlayStation, card and board games. The youth spent most of the day mucking around, chatting and playing Magic the Gathering.

The youth team finished off the School Holiday Program with their traditional movie night. You cannot beat it! They watched How to Train Your Dragon 3 while enjoying pizza for dinner. Joe laughed, “You would be surprised but every movie night, for some reason, Frozen is mentioned, however we never actually watch it!”

NCNS Youth Worker, Sami, expressed, “My highlight this program was when the young people were teaching me how to play Magic the Gathering. It’s been something I have been wanting to learn for a while and I was privileged to have such patient teachers!”

When I asked NCNS Youth Work Joe, he answered, “My highlight was simply watching all the young people engage with each other and be so inclusive to all”

Our Youth Team are looking forward to the next School Holiday Program in April 2021. We are hoping to get back to full capacity of 16 young people depending on COVID restrictions. We also encourage young people to come along and check out the NCNS Youth Hub Drop In on Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 3pm – 5pm at Cranebrook Youth Hub.

To get in contact with our youth team call  02 4706 0288 or contact Joe on 0417 498 918 or Sami on 0408 586 797.

We have a bunch of fun at Summer Lunch

This year we held our annual Summer Lunch in January at Kooly to welcome the community back into our centre after our much needed Christmas & New Year break. 2020 was a crazy year for all of us so it was especially great to be able to start of the year with a small gathering with our community to catch up and reconnect with them.

Although it was a cold, rainy day, the children, young people and families got to participate in a range of activities. They loved the Aboriginal rock painting using earth tones, and telling a story through paint.

They decorated cookies using individual icing pens, peals and sprinkles.

They also created mason jar terrariums using succulents, soils, stones, sand and shells. This activity was a huge hit with all the children and adults!  They  really loved doing the succulent terrarium activity, saying that it was relaxing and they were really excited that they were able to take it home with them.

The children made different shapes and animals using their imagination and playdough.

Even with the cold, rainy weather we had a couple of children, along with NCNS Youth Worker, Joe, who dared to go on the Slip ‘N Slide and had a wet and wild time.

Not only did we all have a wonderful time participating in activities together, we also shared a delicious roast chicken for lunch, with potato and pasta salad which everyone enjoyed. They also loved being able to catch up with other people and/or families they haven’t seen for a while.

NCNS Aboriginal Community Worker, Jen commented, “My highlight of the day was seeing the families who have struggled during COVID isolation, able to come together, socialise and have fun in a safe environment, adhering to COVID regulations of course!”

 

Not your normal NAIDOC Week – We celebrate at SRAC event and reminisce on past NAIDOC Cups

Always Was, Always Will Be was the theme for this year 2020 NAIDOC EVENT.

NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have occupied this land for over 65,000 years. It recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the traditional custodians of these lands.

Nepean Community & Neighborhood Services took part in Sydney Region Aboriginal Corporation NAIDOC Event in Penrith on Thursday 12th November 2020.

The event was a great opportunity to connect with community, have a yarn, share stories, learn from Aboriginal community members, take part in Aboriginal culture and taste some of the amazing foods that were available.

It was also a great occasion to reconnect with services and members of the community as COVID-19 has made this difficult in recent times.

The event was high spirited, colorful and an exciting experience for all.

This year sadly we were unable to hold our annual event NAIDOC Cup due to COVID-19 restrictions which we know so many young people look forward to each year. So in celebration of NAIDOC Week we thought we would look back at some of the previous years, our first event was in 2011, which was much smaller than the event we see today. In 2014 we had 12 schools with over 600 kids attending, this increased to 21 schools and over 750 students in 2016 and our biggest year last year with 30 local schools participating with over 1500 students on the day!

We hope that in the future when the restrictions ease (we hope next year!), we can hold a bigger and better NAIDOC Cup for all the students that missed out this year. Watch this space!

NCNS Celebrates the important role Grandparents play in families

This year we celebrated grandparent’s day through our at Braddock Playtime Playgroup, Koolyangarra Aboriginal Supported Playgroup and our Dark Emus Aboriginal Supported Playgroup. We had over 50 community members attend from our elders in the community to our young and emerging generation.

All playgroups were rich in culture, age, experience and wisdom. It was an opportunity for the relationship and diversity of grandparents to be recognised across age groups and celebrated, recognising the contributions and impacts that our grandparents have on our families, friends and community.

The playgroups were a platform to foster intergenerational teachings, learning and an opportunity for older people to participate within the community.

Through our playgroups we had an exchange of Aboriginal stories, songs and reading. We also provided each child a reading book that they could take home and read with their grandparent, kin, and those who take on the role of a grandparent. Thank you so much to Penrith City Council who provided the funds to purchase the books that were given to each child.

This celebration was an amazing experience for both our elders and emerging generations to untie and create fireworks.

A friendly update from our Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare team

The Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW) team continues in full swing. As we prepare to depart a challenging 2020 (thanks Covid-19) and enter a new year, here are some of our reflections. Family therapy can indeed be done virtually, via the phone or the screen. But gee, it sure is challenging!

The FFT-CW team continued seeing families throughout Lockdown via small screens or large, and sometimes only by phone, and families and therapists alike became very familiar with the new phrase ‘Zoom Fatigue’. Having said that, we were taken aback and deeply touched by each family showing up to their appointments with good humour and grace. We were all in it together, our families, our NCNS colleagues, our community. And there was strength in these numbers that really gave us the energy to push through. Happily, we’ve come out the other side. We’re back in the homes of our courageous clients and moving full steam ahead.

We’re hoping that the Christmas period isn’t too frantic for everyone and provides us all some time to saunter into a holiday period and have some well earned rest. Happy Holidays everyone and a big cheery wave from Mal, Kelly, Craig, Narelle, Nigella and Sara.

How young people are working on their team work, communication & imagination

The NCNS Youth team have done something a bit different this term with their Monday afternoon activity at our Youth Hub. Youth workers, Sami & Joe decided to start playing Dungeons & Dragons with young people as local young people had shown an interest and it is a great game for helping young people further develop team work skills, communication and imagination.

If you aren’t sure what Dungeons & Dragons is, it is a table top role playing game. So this term, the small group got together in person. One group member becomes the Dungeon Master, who then creates a storyline and describes what is happening in the game. The other players act out the characters that they are playing.

Each player creates their own character using a website called DnD Beyond, using guidelines of what they want their character to look like and what they want them to be good at e.g. fighting, magic, talking. The young people then wrote a back story for their character to help them to be able to act that character better.

The young people play as a mix of humans, halflings, goliaths and elf characters. Some are skilled in magic, others are skilled fighters and one is a skilled musician.

Most of the game relies on their imagination, creating a fantasy world where they have to think of creative ways to get out of tricky situations.

The first part of the mission was for the characters to work together to break out of jail that they had all been captured in. From here they are trying to figure out a way to stop themselves from being captured again. Along the way they  collect some interesting tools, that each allow them to do different things.

Youth Worker, Sami asked the young people participating what their highlight has been and they responded “It’s D&D, what’s not to like?!” They also said that they have been enjoying the creative thinking and the adventure that the game requires.

Sami has really enjoyed seeing how much the young people have engaged so strongly with the game, watching their communication skills evolve, and watching them come up with creative ways to solve the problems they face in the game.

One massive highlight is also that the young people are enjoying playing so much that they are wanting to start their own games, so next term 2 of the young people will be hosting their own groups at the centre instead of me hosting it.

If you are interested in finding about more about the NCNS Youth Afterschool program please contact Sami on 0408 586 797 or Joe on 0417 498 918.

Children’s Week Celebration

On Monday we celebrated Children’s week. This year’s theme is ‘INCRC Article 15 – Children have the right to meet together and join groups and organisations as long as it does not stop other people from enjoying their rights. In exercising their rights, children have the responsibility to respect the rights, freedom and reputations of others.’

As we all know, this year has been like no other year we have experienced before. With this in mind, we had to dramatically change how we celebrated this year’s Children’s Week.

We invited our playgroup families to come and join us for a teeny tiny Children’s Week event in line with Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines.

Monday’s celebration gave our families an opportunity to meet other families, play and have fun with their children and others. Although the weather was dreary, cold, wet and windy, we still had some keen families come along to enjoy the fun.

The children who attended got to engage with a range of activities including construction with towers and buildings being made and demolished. Children got to dress up, read books and paint.

There was also a sensory experience where kids experimented with kinetic sand (many volcanos were formed), enjoyed the soft silky feel of flour, the stickiness of tapioca balls and interesting texture of coloured rice.

To keep the children energised we prepared some delicious cups of fruit salad and tasty cheese and vegemite sandwiches for them to munch on.

Some children even got to enjoy splashing in the puddles before going home for the day.

NCNS Child & Family Worker, Zoe H, smiled, “Although this year’s celebration was a lot smaller than usual, it was such a great way to spend a couple of hours celebrating children from the local community!”

56 dogs and 33 cats vaccinated, microchipped and given health checks in Cranebrook

On Saturday the 17th, Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre opened its doors and welcomed cats and dogs from the local community. We held our Vaccination and Microchipping day in partnership with Greencross Vets and the RSPCA.

56 dogs and 33 cats were vaccinated, microchipped and given an overall general health check-up. It has been identified by local vets that the rates of vaccinated pets in Cranebrook and Kingswood Park have declined. These areas are also particularly high risk to infectious diseases such as Parvo which can have devastating effects on dogs.  Want to know more about Parvovirus? Click here.


The objective of these pet day are to increase the number of animals being vaccinated and reduce the number of sick animals.  All community members that came with their animal were given information regarding infectious animal diseases and prevention strategies.

NCNS would like to thank the RSPCA and Greencross Vets for their time and efforts to make our community and animals safer.

Penrith Rams helping our KP Kids play & experience playing a team sport

On Tuesday 20th October the Kingswood Park Kids Group started back after the school holidays. This term we are lucky enough to have the Penrith Rams who will be coming to group each week and teaching the children some great new skills.

NCNS Community Development Worker, Justine contacted Lauren from the Penrith Rams to see if the they would be interested in getting involved with our Kingswood Park Kids group. Lauren didn’t hesitate and organised for Isaac to come out with his two children who love to help kids play and experience playing a team sport.

This week the children learnt how to punt and to kick.

They also tested their reflexes and listening skills throughout several games.

The absolute favourite of the day was the game of builders and wreckers. During this game the children learnt to work together in their teams.

It was wonderful to see the children learn new skills while they enjoyed getting out into the fresh air and running around. This program will continue for another 7 weeks and we plan to organise a community game at the Rams home field towards the end of this term.

Thank you so much to Lauren & Isaac from the Penrith Rams for making this such an exciting program for our Kingswood Park Kids!

Young people enjoyed exciting adventures during our School Holiday Program

Sami & Joe from the NCNS Youth Team were super excited to run the holiday program this school holidays (all be it with limited numbers) so they could take young people out of the house and out of the centre. NCNS Youth Worker, Joe, exclaimed, “We are so thrilled that some of the Covid-19 Restrictions have been lifted so we could actually go out with the young people. Sami and I have never been more excited for an outing!”

An average of 10 young people attended each day. The vibes for each day were high spirited and of course, respectful.

The first outing was to Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre where everyone played an entertaining game of Marco Polo, even including many other people in the centre. It was impressive to see that the young people displayed yet again just how inclusive they are.

The next day was a bushwalk to the Pool of Salom, while it wasn’t the longest walk, it was definitely steep! The water was beautiful to look at but freezing. Everyone enjoyed venturing around the area and relaxing. Although the steep walk back up was far from relaxing, it was hilarious, with a couple of us feeling (struggling with!) the walk. Joe laughed, “One young person even dramatically laid on the steps and said ‘Leave me here to die! You go ahead without me!’ We all had a good laugh about this and we made it up together! Lucky we had our chill day the next day at the youth hub to recover!” Also throughout the day, there was a lot of talk about our upcoming Dungeons & Dragons program on Monday afternoons which the youth are looking forward to.

The next week started with a trip to North Wollongong Beach. The weather was a bit cool yet some young people still went for a swim! Young people also worked together to dig out a sand bunker.

The Thursday evening was our traditional Movie Night at the NCNS Youth Hub and everyone enjoyed some delicious pizza for dinner. The movie selected to watch was ‘The Pacifier’. Everyone had a good laugh with many comments about Vin Diesel’s hilarious comedic role.

The holiday program concluded on the Saturday as the group travelled into the city to participate in the Wizards and Witchery virtual game. Young people had to work together as a team to search for clues and answer riddles using an app. They worked extremely well together, however the app was not reliable so unfortunately the group did not complete the quest. Joe explained, “Although we could not complete the quest, I was impressed by their perseverance.

The school holiday program was a great success with young people experiencing new places, creating strong bonds with each other and displaying the ability to have mutual respect and tolerance for each other. What amazing group!

Sami & Joe can’t wait until the next School Holiday Program!

If you missed out, come and check out the NCNS Youth Hub on Monday & Wednesday afternoons after school.

We recently conducted a survey and asked young people “What could we do to make the afternoon programs better?” and one young person answered  “Nothing. Honestly there doing amazing, my life has changed because of how much of a help they are. I’m so grateful to have such good people in the area.” This sort of feedback is why our youth workers love doing what they do.

To get in contact with our Youth Team please contact Joe on 0417 498 918 or Sami on 0408 586 797.

New culture and creative arts program, NICE launched

NCNS was incredibly excited the launch our new culture and creative arts program, Nations In Cultural Exchange (NICE) at the beginning of this month. This program is facilitated by Jie Pittman, who belongs to the Darug, Wiradjuri, Yuin, Kooma & Ngemba Nations. Jie is committed to sharing culture with Western Sydney communities and has done so for over 20 years. He currently manages his schools “Liven Deadly Program” and supports over 500 Indigenous students a week sharing Aboriginal Culture and a look at the Music, Film and Television Industries he has been employed in as a professional.

The NICE program aims to strengthen the relationship and faith of indigenous youth and families in culture and its practices. It will also incorporate hip hop, culture, film and music for Aboriginal young people aged between 11 and 18 years old.

For its launch Jie set up a yarning circle and everyone who was there was invited into the circle. The yarning circle was used as a meet and greet to find out who we all were and where we were from. This is always interesting as you could be sitting with a potential relative. Jie asked 5 questions and what he is preparing you for is that you are learning how to do an Acknowledgment to Country.

The second week participants wrote something about themselves; where they are from, what school they go to, what they love about their culture, what does NAIDOC Day meant to them and what is the meaning of NAIDOC Day. After this they had to start rhyming about themselves, which became the beginning of their rap. They also watched hip hop videos that other schools have put together which inspired the students to create a cool verse themselves.

This program will continue to run in term 4 from 22nd October to 3rd December 2020. If you would like more information on this program please contact Bronwyn on 02 4706 0280 or 0439 455 139

Young People thrive in Art Tasters Program

What a great experience it was for Sami and I to co-ordinate and be involved in the Art Tasters Program. The Art Tasters Program evolved from the interest displayed in art by young people on the Magnetic Place Skate Park Mural grant. We decided to it would be nice to explore different types of art mediums.

With the assistance of artist Diamando Koutsellis the program was a great success. Diamando was an excellent addition who works so well with young people. We ran the program for five, two hour sessions with an average of six young people attending each session. The various art mediums consisted of clay, painting, charcoal and pastel sketching and the young people decided they would like to revamp the youth hub sign as part of the program.

The aim of the program was to empower young people to gain confidence in their abilities, challenge them to try something new, use art as a way for relaxation and expression. Some young people were initially hesitant to pick up a brush in fear of not doing a good enough job, myself included! We all worked through that feeling and achieved results we were proud of. The environment was so supportive from all people involved. I guess the supportive and relaxed environment was my highlight!

 

The young people wished the program had more sessions so that is an indication we will run an art program again the future. In some way every young person achieved something, a new skill, more confidence, ability to relax and an unexpected outcome of increased communication between each other while participating.

Next term NCNS Youth are looking at running a simplified version of Dungeons & Dragons to increase skills in teamwork, communication, decision making and assertiveness in young people. It should be an interesting program with hopefully a few laughs along the way!

For all our youth programs please click here.

To get in contact with Sami and I,  please call 02 4706 0288.

Me & Bub Pop Up

Me and Bub is an opportunity for community to come together and share their stories and journeys about parenthood. Many parents face challenges with raising children and often believe that they are alone in their struggles. The Me and Bub project offers parents or guardians the chance to tell their stories with other people in the community and offer ideas to how we can better support one another through parenthood.

Strength comes from community and they always say, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. All the stories that are shared will be written in a journal which will travel around the community. Parents will have the opportunity to read other parents’ stories and undoubtedly find similarities.

Storytelling allows community to share their experience and views in their own words building common ground among individuals in the community. Stories and pictures provide a human face to the complex challenges facing residents in the community today. They can revel common values that we share as a collective and start conversation that need to be had so we can better support one another thorough our journeys.

There has been an enormous amount of support from the community welcoming this project and its objectives of storytelling, journeys and community support. It is an opportunity for parents to learn, grow and develop support systems for other parents going through the same journey. During the pop-up parents are given information regarding services in the area that can support them, reducing the feeling of isolation and promoting community participation. Many referrals were handed out to parents to attend our fabulous playgroup that connects parents with young children to our early childhood team. This is a chance for parents to discover the services that are available to them locally.

If you would like to share you story with us please contact Nada on nada@nepeancommunity.org.au or 0407 044 119. This is a great way to connect with other parents in the community and open the way for supporting our kids and families.

National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2020

The theme for National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day was ‘We are elders of tomorrow, Hear our voice.’ This is an important event to engage families in culture and to reconnect.

NCNS Aboriginal Early Childhood Worker, Amy explained, “The day is about children having a voice, it’s about our Elders, listening to their stories, song lines, art and invaluable knowledge and this being passed onto our children, who are our future leaders.”

The day started with an Acknowledgment to Country by nine year old Jay. It was a beautiful way to connect with the children and families, coming from a young boy who is still learning about his culture. The other children were really listening to, and embraced Jay’s acknowledgment and this made Jay feel really proud.

It was a calm, interactive day where a small group of community had the chance to catch up after a long time between groups and events due to Covid-19.

The activities we chose were about connecting with nature. There was mud play, sensory play and native plants from Early Childhood Worker, Zoe’s garden.

We had an amazing performance from the Kooly Deadly Kids Dance Group and also entertainment by Jessie including sharing of his song lines and dances.

Jessie was really interactive with his audience showing them artefacts and also playing the didgeridoo.


The children also got to have their faces painted by Jessie.

Some of the children were his back up musical instrument players and you could see the joy in their faces as they played.

For all of our Aboriginal Services, including Kooly Deadly Kids Dance Group & our Aboriginal Supported Playgroups please click here.

Kingswood Park Kids

Kingswood Park Kids are back in action, moving to a new location at North Penrith Community Centre, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

On Tuesday afternoons the group will either walk or some catch our bus directly after school. It has been amazing to see these children so competent in reducing the risk of Covid-19,  they are helpful and reliable with taking all the precautions required.

This group runs from 3:15pm to 4:45pm, giving the children plenty of time to play and explore together in a safe environment. The children love afternoon tea time and share stories daily as they eat.

We would like to thank Coles, as majority of the afternoon tea items have been donated by them as well as Cathy from our Breakfast Club.

This month the children have been working on String Art Carpentry. The use of hammers has been  popular and the children are developing their hand eye coordination, fine motor skills and risk management ideas. This project will run over the term as it involves a lot of details, concentration and persistence.

Lego designs, dancing, rapping, bead making as well as the popular hand ball tournaments happen every Tuesday.

One of our goals for the group is to assist the children to expand their self-help skills, creativity and acceptance of others.

During term 3 we will also learn some basic cooking skills, pancakes and home made pizzas. YUM!

Once restrictions are reduced, we are aiming to put on a feast for the families that the children will create the menu, prepare and serve.

This group is currently full and has a waiting list. (This is due to limitations from Covid-19 Restrictions) We hope once restrictions have been reduced we can make this a larger group!

Watch this space!

For more information about this group, please contact Justine on 02 4729 0442 or 0417 550 382.

 

FoodREDi Program

Before the world was sent into chaos due to Covid-19, NCNS was delivering a 6 week FoodREDi Program with 10 participants from Cranebrook, Glenmore Park and Kingswood Park.

The FoodREDi Program helps participants learn how to save money on groceries and to eat more healthily, with hands on guidance on preparing and cooking easy, tasty meals.

This program had to shut down due to Covid-19 restrictions during term 2 so during term 3, Community Development Worker, Justine decided that we would deliver the remainder of this program remotely.

Justine made up hampers of fresh ingredients and delivered them to the participants homes.

Justine laughed, “I felt a bit like Hello Fresh, haha! I loved that some families sent through photos of them cooking and eating the food they had made during the program.”

The group kept in touch via phone, Facebook and Facetime to ask any questions, share recipes and talk about any struggles. Monique from Penrith City Council will be doing a check in and Justine has spoken with the families who participated who provided positive feedback:

“Great new ideas and recipes”

“I loved learning how to make healthier substitutes”

“I can’t believe my children ate this!”

“Quick and simple”

“I loved that it has healthy desert options and healthy snack foods”

Justine explained,” I loved doing this program due to the great benefits for those who participate in the program. We would love to be able to deliver this program again in the future.”

Do you need help completing your tax return?

Haven’t done your tax yet? Don’t fret!

You may be eligible to get your tax done for FREE with our tax help volunteer!

What is the Tax Help Program?
Tax Help is a network of ATO-trained and accredited community volunteers who provide a free and confidential service to help people complete their tax returns online using myTax.

How can a volunteer help you?
– Help lodge your tax return
– Help with an amendment online
– Claim a refund of franking credits
– Complete non-lodgement advice (if it turns out you don’t need to lodge a tax return)

Am I eligible?
You are eligible for Tax Help if your income is around $60,000 or less for the income year and you did not:
– work as a contractor, for example a contract cleaner or taxi driver
– run a business, including as a sole trader
– have partnership or trust matters
– sell shares or an investment property
– own a rental property
– have capital gains tax (CGT)
– receive royalties
– receive distributions from a trust, other than a managed fund
– receive foreign income, other than a foreign pension or annuity.

We have appointments available with our Tax Help Volunteer on selected Tuesdays between 9am – 12:30pm from 11th August 2020 at South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre.

To book your appointment contact 02 4721 8520. There are limited spots available so bookings are essential.

Before your appointment
Please make sure to have the below ready to bring with you:
– your myGov user ID and password
– your bank account details (BSB and account number)
– your tax file number
– an original or amended notice of assessment from any one of the last five years
– income statements from all sources
– all your receipts for gifts, donations and work-related expenses
– details of any child support payments made
– details of any losses on investments in shares and rental properties (net investment losses)
– details of your spouse’s (married or de-facto) taxable income or a reasonable estimate if you had a spouse at any time during the financial year.
– proof of identity documents (Driver’s licence, passport, Centrelink CRN, Birth Certificate)

If you are not eligible, please go to ato.gov.au or call 13 28 61 for more information about your tax return.

Information from https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Lodging-your-tax-return/Tax-Help-program/

Term 3 2020 Updates

Our team is extremely excited for Term 3, as we are able to recommence most of our regular groups, of course, with social distancing measures in place to keep our workers & the community safe. For program updates please read the following information.

EARLY CHILDHOOD
St Marys Aboriginal Supported Playgroup has relocated to Werrington Downs Community Centre with a new name, Dark Emus Aboriginal Supported Playgroup starting 5th August 2020.

Braddock Playtime Playgroup will resume on Thursday 30th July at its temporary new location at the Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre.

We have limited spaces available in both playgroups due to COVID-19 restrictions so if you are interested in attending please contact Amy or Zoe on 02 4729 0442 to book in.

KIDS & YOUTH
Kingswood Park Kids after school group has relocated to North Penrith Community Centre from Tuesday 28th July 2020.

Cranebrook Girls Talk has moved from online to Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre. Registrations for this program are essential so please contact Nada on 0407 044 119.

Breakfast Club is running again and will be serving free breakfast on school days for primary aged children only during term 3 as well as a takeaway service available for high school students on Thursdays only from 30th July 2020.

The NCNS Youth Team will be resuming their Drop In at the Youth Hub on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as running an Art Tasters Program from the 27th July 2020. Bookings are essential for the Art Tasters Program so please contact Joe 0417 498 918 or Sami 0408 586 797 if you are interested.

Nepean Young Pregnancy Support (NYPS) is back! To make an appointment with Sandra (Midwife), please contact Amy on 02 4729 0442 or 0477 004 773.

PARENTING PROGRAMS
We will be running both the Keeping Children Safe & Circle of Security – Parenting Programs during term 3 at Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre. Keeping Children Safe is a 5 week course starting Tuesday 28th July 2020 and Circle of Security – Parenting is an 8 week program starting Friday 31st July 2020. Limited spaces for both groups due to COVID-19 restrictions so to book please contact Zoe on 02 4729 0442 or 0437 699 019. We still have spaces left!

ABORIGINAL PROGRAMS
Our Aboriginal Programs Worker, Bronwyn will be running both Steps to Healing & Aboriginal SMART Recovery during term 3 on Tuesdays from 28th July to 15th September 2020. For more information, please contact Bronwyn on 0439 455 139.

For all Term 3 programs , please check out our Activity Directory.

Science Day in the Park

The shutdown was challenging for many people in the community, and especially for children who are used to going to school and seeing their friends every day. Not to mention, it was a difficult time for parents, having to help school and entertain kids every day at home, with many also trying to work at the same time. Boredom Busters was created by NCNS Community Worker, Justine in response to Covid-19 restrictions. This program was for primary aged kids via Zoom to provide interactive fun facts, ideas, homework help, activities and to create a place that they can connect with friends in a safe environment.

Since they were unable to meet in person during this period, the NCNS Community team promised the kids from Boredom Busters that they would host something special for them once the restrictions had been lifted, so they came up with the idea of a Science Day at the park. This get together was all about having fun and encouraging the children to create long lasting friendships with each other and connect with NCNS Staff.


During the day the kids got to complete 4 different science experiments that Justine first demonstrated over zoom. When the kids got the chance to do the experiments themselves they were so excited. The team also provided morning tea for the children and parents who attended.

The 4 science experiments were A Mentos and Coke Volcano, Colour Changing Milk, Skittles Rainbox and Dancing Stick Figure. Each child was given a science pack with instructions of how to conduct each experiment. Download instructions here.

On the day, we were able to meet some new families and created new connections. Seeing the smiling faces of both parents and kids, made our day!

The community development team are looking forward to putting together more fun days for kids and their families. Watch this space!