Local youth learning hands on skills in horse handling and care

The NCNS Youth team is extremely excited about their new Horse Care Program for young people, being delivered during term 4 2019.  This is something completely different to the programs we have run in the past and with only limited spaces available, 8 lucky young people will be participating in the program. Earlier this year the NCNS Youth team conducted a survey with results showing that the young people we reached had strong interests in animal care.  These survey results combined with a trend in aggressive behaviour and young people not understanding the impact of their actions, gave NCNS Youth Worker, Joe Benchoam, the fabulous idea to create a program in which we hoped would give participants the opportunity to work with animals, while at the same time gaining skills around empathy and understanding body language.

This idea came to life once Joe came across an advertisement for the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in Richmond. Joe reached out to the Volunteer Coordinator for Richmond, RDA, Wendy, who immediately jumped on board, offering her time to facilitate the program for us.

During this program, there will be a variety of things that the young people will get the chance to do and learn, some of these include:

  • How to clean a horse
  • What plants in the field the horses cannot eat and how to get rid of them
  • How to lead a horse
  • What the horse is trying to communicate through their body language

The Orientation day on Saturday 12th October was a great way to kick off the program. At the orientation, participants were introduced to each other and to the horses, and also shared a delicious lunch together.

Pictured above: NCNS Youth Worker, Joe Benchoam

All the young people had great things to say about the day and told us that they enjoyed learning a little bit about the horse’s body language as well as getting the brush them down.

Last Thursday, was the official beginning of the after school Horse Care Program, where all the young people who came along gave us really positive feedback about the program as well as the wonderful facilitator Wendy (RDA – Richmond). We would like to thank Wendy for generously giving us her time, without her, this program would not be possible.

NCNS Youth Worker, Sami Thoms expressed, “this is a great program because it gives the participants a chance to learn new skills and form a deeper connection with and greater understanding of animals, which they may not have had the opportunity to do before.”


All of the current participants are really excited for the rest of the program and we can’t wait to see how these young people develop as the program goes along.


For updates on the Horse Care Program, check out the NCNS Youth Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NCNSYouth/

Fighting for a Parvo free Penrith – Over 130 animals vaccinated

This October, Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services (NCNS), Greencross Vets (Coreen Ave), the RSPCA, Penrith City Council and University of Sydney Vet students, came together to hold two Pet days in Cranebrook & Kingswood Park in an effort to work towards a Parvo Free Penrith.

What is Parvo?

Parvovirus (Parvo) is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease in dogs that affects the intestine and/or heart.

What are the symptoms?

  • Severe vomiting
  • Blood in stool
  • Loss of weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Why is it important to vaccinate against Parvo?

Parvovirus can live for up to 1 year in its environment and can be spread through the faeces of infected dogs.  There is no drug that can kill parvovirus once it is inside a dog’s body and death rates of dogs with parvovirus are high.

The best defence against Parvo is to ensure dogs are vaccinated.

When to vaccinate?

Greencross vet’s website recommends vaccinating dogs at:

  • 6 to 8 weeks of age
  • again at 10 to 12 weeks old
  • again at 14 to 16 weeks old
  • a booster vaccination yearly for the rest of their life

How are we helping to stop the spread of Parvo?

On Saturday 5th October at the Cranebrook Pet Day, an amazing 74 animals owned by local community members received health checks and/or vaccinations.

This year we were thrilled to welcome Penrith City Council Animal Services on board who were able to make sure all of the adorable pets that attended the day were microchipped. This is so important so that if our furry family members ever wander off, the owners could be easily identified, and pets can be brought home safely to their families.

Not only were the pets given health checks, but we were also fortunate enough to be given incredible donations from Pet Barn, RSPCA, SecondBite and also from Marlene, a Penrith community member. Local pet owners were really grateful to receive these donations.

On Saturday 12th October, the North Penrith Community Centre in Kingswood Park opened its door to the animals of Penrith. On this day we saw over 60 animals, dogs and cats come through to receive their yearly health check-up, including vaccinations and micro-chipping.

We even had a young budding vet in the form of one of our KP Kids who visited on the day.

We would like to thank everyone who was involved. These days are made possible because of the vets, vet nurses and students who volunteer their time to help stop the spread of Parvo and to ensure that our pets live a long, happy and healthy life.

Why Steps to Healing could be the program for you

We sat down with NCNS Aboriginal Worker, Bronwyn Nuttall, facilitator of the NCNS Steps to Healing Program to find out what it is all about.

What is Steps to Healing?

Steps to Healing is an open group program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people created to combine Western methodology with Aboriginal Culture to provide an evidence-informed program that is culturally appropriate and safe. Steps to Healing is facilitated by Aboriginal workers who are trained in mental health.

What does a session look like?

The sessions offer activities that focus on the present, mindfulness, metaphor, positive psychology, self-care, self-compassion, communication, relationships and Aboriginal Culture. Whilst the program encourages the development of new skills, it is offered within the context of social care and concern.

The concepts of neuroscience are explained to participants and these are not ‘dumbed down.’ It is immensely beneficial for people to understand how their brains and bodies work in response to stress, overwhelm, and trauma. Knowledge is power and we treat participants as intelligent people who have the capacity to learn, understand and integrate complex knowledge.

When asked how she would describe the group, Bronwyn replied “The group has a great vibe. Everyone talks about and shares the content. Last week, there was 2 ladies who were unable to attend the session and the other participants were able to explain to these ladies what they had missed and were even using the terminology used in Steps to Healing. It was as if they could almost run the program themselves and this made me so proud as it is clear that they are working the program to its full potential.”

What do participants think about Steps to Healing?

The 8 participants in the term 3 program have told us that the program has had both small and big impacts on themselves and their life. It has helped them to slow down and breathe. Their anxiety has reduced significantly. It has been especially great to see one of our participants who had extremely high levels of anxiety, be able to relax and is now able to better manage their anxiety.

Bronwyn told us, “The best thing about running this program is seeing the transformation in participants; seeing where they are when they first come in, and then watching them make positive changes in their life. I have had participants who have been at their worst, change, and grow over the 8 weeks, which is truly remarkable. This is why I love this program. Everyone who does this program, can relate to it somehow, even me.”

Bronwyn explained that the tools that the program has to offer you, she uses

herself, “The program keeps me in check and teaches me how to ‘drop the rope’. It teaches me about my emotions and it’s ok to sit in that, but for how long do we sit in it for? This is where we learn how to ‘ride the wave’. It also teaches me to be kind to myself.”

Since its introduction, there has been a lot of talk about Steps to Healing. The program has been received well, with a number of services asking about the program and how to refer to it. Steps to Healing has now been recognised through Mental Health Matters and received a highly commendable award.

NCNS will continue to deliver this Steps to Healing during term 4, running Thursday’s from 24th  October to 12th December 2019. If you would like more information about this program please contact Bronwyn on 02 4706 0280/ 0439 455 139 or email brownyn@nepeancommunity.org.au

Download the Steps to Healing Term 4 2019 flyer.


Ladies creating sensory blankets & boards for Fernhill School

Recently we have been inspired by the wonderful ladies from the Taste of Everything Workshops for Women (TOE) and have had the pleasure of chatting with Linsey, one of the coordinators and members of the group.  TOE has been going for over 8 years and came from a desire to create an inclusive group for women to try new arts, crafts, and activities but above all to increase connections in the community creating a place for women to feel comfortable, safe and to build friendships. All these years later TOE is just that. TOE is made up of a group of 10 to 15 ladies who have become great friends.  The ladies are always keen to help each other where they can, with quite a few who get together outside of the group for other activities.

The group is now self-sufficient with members from the group, Martha and Linsey taking on the coordination of TOE, of course with contribution from all members of the group.

I asked Linsey how she would describe this group to someone who has never been, and she replied, “Very welcoming, there is no pressure to do anything you are not interested in doing. We welcome new ideas, have lots of friendly banter and we always have morning tea no matter where we are! We have a lady in a wheelchair who joins in with us & another who comes along occasionally so mobility is not always an issue if they have a carer. Some of us knit, others sew & some just do their own project, whatever they feel comfortable with & if they want to learn new skills we try to help.”

One of the groups favourite activities is going ten pen bowling. Linsey told us that this is because the group “have a wonderful time, lots of giggles, encouragement and because most of us are older we use ramps and bumpers!”

The group also loves going on a variety of bus trips. The group have had a bus trip once a term but are hoping to increase this to twice per term. For the next trip the ladies are planning to go to Mt York to enjoy the Postman’s Run from Brooklyn. Some of the amazing places they have been to already include, Harper house at Berrima, Tulip Tops past Goulburn, Vaucluse House, and Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens.

One of the wonderful things about this women’s group is the great friendships that have been formed. It is an opportunity for the ladies to get out of the house and has helped them to make connections with the Penrith Community.

As well as the group providing opportunities to socialise, try new activities and see new places, the ladies from this group have become aware of the needs in the Penrith community and have jumped on many opportunities where they can help or contribute to a number of causes.

In just the last year, the ladies have donated different items from snacks to lip balm to the parent’s room at the Ronald MacDonald House, they have gathered donations of good condition handbags filled with ladies essential items for the Bunnings Handbag Appeal, and raised $1100 for cancer research by holding a big morning tea at Martha’s home. For this, Martha asked for donations from local businesses and clothes from community and these were auctioned off.

Outside of this group, Linsey, Martha and another amazing lady, Beryl, volunteer their time every Tuesday at Fernhill School, a public special needs school. Martha and Linsey have been volunteering at Fernhill since the first month this school opened, 3 years ago. Martha is a close neighbour to Fernhill and called in to offer some sensory blankets that the group had made and asked if there was anything else, they could do and have been volunteering there ever since. Beryl joined Martha and Linsey at Fernhill 18 months ago, 6 months after she arrived from the UK. From this, she joined the Taste of Everything Workshops for Women group. Beryl is 81 years young and is such a great contributor. The ladies help out the teachers and staff with tasks such as laminating, cutting, sorting, supervising swimming and have covered so many books in contact that they have lost count! They have really helped out by organising the school’s resources hub, putting bar codes on items, labelling and logging them into the computer. The ladies love to help out and this also gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and keep their minds active. Linsey explained, “We see how dedicated the staff are and how much they appreciate our help, so it is not a difficult decision to go there every week, besides, they give us a great morning tea!”

Most children who attend Fernhill are non-verbal and learn through sight and touch. As a public school, Fernhill has limited access to funds. TOE have recently been successful in obtaining a rolling grant from Penrith City Council, to create sensory blankets and boards for the students at Fernhill School, after putting out a questionnaire asking what would be of benefit to the children and the teachers. From this TOE have created their new project, ‘A sense of giving,’ where they will be creating all kinds of sensory items, plus some little surprises for the students which will be presented in November.

Linsey told us that, “It is a beautiful school with wonderful, caring staff and we wanted to help them in any way we could do, so this was an obvious choice, along with our weekly contributions.”

All women are welcome and invited to participate in A Sense of Giving. No sewing skills are required.

Not only are the ladies doing so much for the community, they are also doing things for their own enjoyment and mental health. The group is involved with Neuralmoves at Thornton which will be on display at various contributors’ venues from October. They have been making fingerless mittens and mats for dementia patients at Thornton.

They have researched, designed and sewn a quilt celebrating women from Nepean Valley who have made significant contribution in various fields from the part and present, and this hangs proudly in the Floribunda Community Centre where they meet each week.

The group have made dog and cat blankets, and hammocks that were donated to the Townsville flood relief.

Just yesterday the ladies helped bake muffins to give to the students who attend our Breakfast Club at Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre.

Toe already have some ideas in the pipeline, for what they could do with a rolling grant for another worthy group next year.

Impressively Martha and Linsey from the group have even received recognition from the NSW State Government with a certificate for their volunteering, as well as a mention in State Parliament by our local member, Tanya Davies. This was an unexpected, pleasant surprise for these two ladies, and we could not think of anyone more deserving.

In Linsey’s own words, ‘We don’t do it for the accolades but for a sense of community and satisfaction.”

If you are interested in joining the ladies at Taste of Everything Workshops for Women, we encourage you to come along and check it out. A sense of Giving will be running in term 3 and 4, if you would love to get involved please contact Martha on 0414 557 062 or Linsey on 0448 975 724 to register.


60 baby boxes gifted and delivered to young mums to be

This year, NCNS was successful in receiving a ClubGRANTS, grant from St Marys Band Club.

ClubGRANTS is a community development funding program coordinated by Penrith City Council and sponsored by local registered clubs. The scheme enables Registered clubs with an annual gaming machine revenue over 1 million to apply 1.85% of this revenue to specific community development and support projects.

NCNS runs the Nepean Young Pregnancy Support Group at the Penrith Women’s Health Centre on Tuesdays between 10am – 12pm. We wanted to use this grant to provide essential items to the young expectant mothers that we work with. This led NCNS Aboriginal Early Childhood Worker, Amy Lear to look into this incredible idea of baby boxes from Tuutu.

The Tuutu Baby Box was created by Finnish women, Susanna Heiskanen and was inspired by the Finnish government maternity package, a box filled with a mattress and newborn necessities, given to all expectant mothers in Finland. Susanna herself, spent her first 6 months sleeping in a Finnish Baby Box.

The Tuutu Baby Box is a great starter kit for parents. The box includes a foam mattress with a waterproof fitted zip cover and an organic fitted sheet. Babies can sleep safely in the box, and the box can be easily moved around from room to room. The lid doubles as a secure change table with the mattress. Included in the box were items we sourced including bibs, singlets, nappies, wipes, brush set, face washers, muslin wrap, a Johnson & Johnson pack plus a little picture book for parents to read to their newborn.

We were able to provide 60 baby boxes in total, gifted to the ladies who attend NYPS and had them delivered to their homes. This project spanned over the year and was well worth the work to see the faces of expectant mums receive their baby boxes. The young women were so excited to receive their box. The project provided young mum’s to be, a safe space for their baby to sleep that could be easily transported, who may not have been able to purchase a cot yet. The great thing about these boxes is that once baby outgrows the box, it can be used to store toys, clothes and mementos.

We are thankful to Penrith City Council and St Marys Band Club for providing the funding for this project through the ClubGRANTS Program, so we could provide these amazing boxes to young mums to be.

If you are pregnant and under 25 years old and looking for support or to meet other young mums to be, we encourage you to come along to NYPS. You are welcome to bring a friend. NYPS has a variety of guest speakers from different services each term such as the Aboriginal Legal Service, CPR Kids, Family Planning, Platform Youth Services, Lifestart plus more. Support Services and WDO’s Available.

If you would like more information about the Nepean Young Pregnancy Support Group, please contact Amy on 0477 004 773 or Sami on 0408 586 797.

NCNS talks about trauma at the NSW Health VAN Clinical Forum

In 2017, Integrated Violence Prevention Response Service (IVPRS) students had come to our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child & Family Centre (Kooly) in Cranebrook to get some experience engaging with Aboriginal staff for their practical training. Trudy Grant, NCNS Aboriginal Community Coordinator, and Carolyn Gilbert, NCNS Aboriginal Team Leader, Early Childhood talked with the students about community stories of trauma that they had experienced and the need for Aboriginal programs based on their trauma and aimed at Healing.

From this connection with IVPRS, NCNS then had 6 child protection counsellors from (IVPRS) come to Kooly to run a one day, Talking about Trauma Workshop where Aboriginal community members were encouraged to share their own experiences and discuss the impact of trauma on themselves and their families.  The facilitators talked about what trauma is, how it affects us, what it does to our kids and our relationships with them, how this affects our parenting and what we can do.

After this workshop it was even more evident that there was a need for culturally safe therapy to help break the cycle of Aboriginal generational trauma.

This workshop was the catalyst that led to NCNS’s partnership with IVPRS to develop an eight week, Talking about Trauma Pilot Project that would be delivered in the culturally safe space that is our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child & Family Centre in 2018.

The program was facilitated by experienced Child Protection Counsellors, Jem Maddox and Jenny Deighton Shapcott from IVPRS, and supported by NCNS Aboriginal workers Carolyn Gilbert and Trudy Grant. During this 8-week program participants would explore complex trauma, triggers, and self-awareness to address trauma on themselves firstly and then their parenting to help them parent better with support from the workers from IVPRS & NCNS.

NCNS and IVPRS have since received a certificate of Appreciation, Reward and Recognition 2018 from NSW Health for the Talking About Trauma Program delivered in 2018.

Jem Maddox (IVPRS) and Carolyn Gilbert, NCNS Team Leader, Early Childhood were recently invited to present at the NSW Health Violence, Abuse & Neglect (VAN) Clinical Forum in Sydney on Tuesday 23rd July. At this Forum, Jem and Carolyn discussed the partnership between IVPRS and NCNS, to develop a targeted response to the needs of Aboriginal families, to discuss the impact of trauma on their parenting.

Carolyn Gilbert stated, “I was really nervous to get up and present to over 500 frontline VAN Clinicians from Nepean Blue Mountains,  Western NSW Local Health Districts and even from out Western Plains, Forbes, Dubbo areas too, but I am so passionate about this work and the response from the audience was extremely positive.”

Participants feedback from the program has also been positive, with the program helping participants feel that they are not alone in sharing their stories and getting the tools to help with their triggers.

We are currently in the middle of another Talking about Trauma Program in a cultural context for Aboriginal Parents and Carers delivered at Kooly, ending 12th September 2019. This is an intensive program, so we like to end the 8 weeks with a pamper session for participants.

We are so grateful for this wonderful partnership with IVPRS and we hope to continue to deliver this valuable program in the future.

If you have any questions regarding the Talking about Trauma program please email us at info@nepeancommunity.org.au


We Play, We Learn, We Belong.

We Play, We Learn, We Belong is the 2019 National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (NATSICD) theme with a focus on celebrating the early years and importance of early childhood education and care for young children.

With NCNS having 2 Aboriginal Supported playgroups we know that these 3 elements, playing, learning and belonging, are essential for young children to develop so that they can have the best start to life.

This year, NCNS Aboriginal Early Childhood Worker, Amy Lear, explained that she ‘wanted to go back to basics for this year’s celebration of children’s day, with an emphasis on connecting children with culture using natural resources from the land, native plants and looking at animals who live on the land, in the sky and the sea.’

The NCNS Early Childhood team did this by creating a range of hands-on, textural experiences inspired by that strong connection to country.

Ocean themed play so young children could feel the cool, wet touch of the sea.

Sand and shells

A Nature tent was created with natural items from wattle trees, bottle brushes, large pieces of bark and gum-nuts.

As children got to look and touch all of these native pieces from the land, NCNS Early Childhood Worker, Zoe Harris, talked about where each item was from and what they could be used for.

Beautiful red sand to explore featuring toy animals from the land.

Kids played with pine cones and ochre coloured play dough

We had a canvas so that the kids could create a picture of the sun and the mountains using different colours of tissue paper.

Not only is play important for children to learn, storytelling is also a huge part of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander culture, and a crucial way that Aboriginal children learn about the world they live in.

We created a space for storytelling inside the centre, where we had dreamtime story books that could be read, as well as real life stories that were shared and shown to the young children as they sat in a yarning circle with beautiful Aboriginal design cushions.

Children gazed at the miniature set up of a camp site created with all-natural materials, while stories were told about fishing and how to cook fish on the campfire.

After all of the exploring, we sat down with the community to enjoy a great feast of chicken stew and beef stew with damper, fruit, sandwiches and cakes.

The day was a celebration of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children, who were immersed in culture, a day to feel proud, to play, to learn and to belong.

If you would like to get in contact with the NCNS Early Childhood Team, please call 02 4729 0442 or send an email to info@nepeancommunity.org.au

Skate Park transformed by local youth

At the beginning of this year, the NCNS Youth team found out that they were successful in their proposal for a Magnetic Places grant from the Penrith City Council, aiming to update the existing Skate Park in Cranebrook to make it livelier and give local youth ownership of the space.

This project began in March with a Skate Park Mural workshop where local youth were invited to come along to brainstorm ideas for the design of the artwork that would feature in the Skate Park. After the first workshop, NCNS Youth Workers, Sami & Joe, decided to make this project a part of their Monday after school program and since then, have been working with a number of young people from Cranebrook to bring these ideas to life.

During this time, we have seen young people take pride in their area, their work and themselves. We are so proud of all of the youth who contributed their time to help design, create and install the Cranebrook Skate Park Mural. They have done an incredible job transforming the park, certainly leaving their mark for the years to come.

NCNS Youth Worker, Sami Thoms, enthused about the completion of the project, “I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped out painting the Cranebrook Skate Park. It was a massive job, but it looks absolutely amazing! We would like to give a massive shout out to artist Diamando Koutsellis, we could not have done this without all your help. We would also like to thank Penrith City Council for the financial support that has allowed us to complete this massive project.”

Check out the amazing Skate Park transformation below:

The below photos were taken by Photo: Jordan Wheatley (courtesy of Penrith City Council)

FREE school holiday workshops for all the family

On Monday 8 July we will be holding free meditation, music and relaxation workshops (large meeting room) for adults at the South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre. While you learn to find your inner peace and unwind, you can leave the kids in their own art and relaxation workshop (small meeting room) where they will have fun learning to be creative.

Sahaja Yoga is a community based group that holds free classes for all ages. These classes teach people how to relax and de-stress through meditation and music. With Sahaja Yoga Meditation we normally sit on chairs to achieve yoga, effortlessly & spontaneously. So there’s no need for mats or special clothing.

On Monday 8 July choose from one of the FREE following workshops or come to all of them!

10am-11:30am  Balancing and Clearing Workshop –  mental, emotional and spiritual detox to give you the tools to de-stress your life

1:15pm-2:45pm  Music and Meditation Workshop – relax and learn to meditation through music. After a short introduction and guided meditation, be treated to the transforming effects of music by music therapist and vocalist Lene Jeffrey RMT. Continue to enhance your inner peace by listening to the sublime sounds of world class violinist Asmira Woodwood-Page and world music that touches the spirit within.

3:00pm-4:30pm  Diagnose Your Own Chakras –  understanding and cleansing our inner being

Text 0412 643 035 to register with your name, workshop number (1, 2, or 3) and number & age of children to be dropped at the children’s  art class.

We will also be holding regular follow up Sahaja Yoga meditation programs at the South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre on a Monday evening from 7.30 to 9pm. No need to book, just pop along to our free Sahaja Yoga meditation weekly meeting and learn to unwind, distress and tap into your own source of inner peace and well being.

Kingswood Park Pop Up: Strengthening community

Over the last 12 months, NCNS have been holding pop-up events each term in Kingswood Park as a result of acquiring a Penrith City Council, Community Assistance Program (CAP) grant.

CAP Grants are for local non-profit community groups to use towards projects that work with residents and other community groups in order to strengthen the community, address community needs and improve opportunities for participation in Penrith City.

On Monday 3rd June, NCNS Community Development Worker, Justine Reynolds, held a pop-up event at Illawong Reserve in Kingswood Park.  On the day we had the opportunity to engage with residents, find out their current needs or the services required and offer support. We used the community space so residents can feel comfortable having these conversations, sharing their hopes and thoughts with us.

Justine (NCNS) worked alongside NCNS Early Childhood worker, Zoe Harris, who had created a fantastic messy play space for children to come and explore.

Julia from Penrith City Council’s Werrianda Children’s Centre created a musical space, as she played the ukulele while the children had a ball playing with percussion instruments.

Justine (NCNS) and Lila (Penrith City Council) enjoyed coffee and morning tea with the residents, while talking with them about the various spaces in the Kingswood Park and what they would like to see happen in this area.

Staff from Uniting and Australian Unity also attended, providing residents with information and answering any questions they may have had.

With over 40 people attending on the day, we would love to continue holding these intimate pop-up events, as they provide social connection, support and help to identify the needs of those living there and what they would like to see happen in Kingswood Park.

Showing courage, sharing truths

This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week was ‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage,’ but what does this really mean?

Reconciliation to us, means bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and non-Indigenous Australians together.

The State of Reconciliation in Australia report 2016 identifies 5 essential components to measure reconciliation and these are:

Historical acceptance; acceptance of past wrong doings, the impact of these wrong doings, making amends and ensuring these wrongs are never repeated.

Race Relations; all Australians understand and value Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people’s cultures, rights and experiences and an Australia free from racism.

Equality & Equity; ensuring that all Australians have the same opportunities in life and recognising the unique rights of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Institutional Integrity; Reconciliation is supported in political, business and community structures.

Unity; All Australians value and recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s cultures and heritage as a proud part of our shared national identity.

This year’s theme focuses on the race relations component of Reconciliation. For Reconciliation Week we celebrated with a morning tea at our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre, where we invited local service providers and community to come together to listen, share and learn from each other.

The day started with a Welcome to Country from Aunty Carol who challenged others to speak up, connect and learn about Aboriginal culture.

On the day, we saw courage displayed in many forms, whether sharing a story or experience, listening to one another’s stories, willingness to understanding each other and being open to learn more about Aboriginal culture.

High school student, Reece Nuttall, spoke honestly and openly about his experiences as an Aboriginal young man. He talked about how this affects him, how he has an effect on others and his journey so far, being brave and speaking truths with his peers and community. Reece explained how he felt positive about all that was happening in the way of change however reminded us that there is so much more that needs to be done.

NCNS Managing Director, Joy Impiombato spoke about government changes, inequities in services provided for Aboriginal communities and how we can all do more. Joy emphasised the importance of our connections, partnerships and the success that can come from working together.

When people gather around food, it creates an opportunity to start conversations. An incredible grazing table was put together by NCNS Community Development Workers, Cathy & Lisa. Community were able to gather around, enjoy delicious food and begin to share their stories. The grazing table also had beautiful native flowers brought in by NCNS Early Childhood Worker, Zoe Harris.

We had a number of interactive activities that encouraged participation and offered community new experiences. NCNS Workers, Nada & Morissa facilitated a Raffia Weaving Workshop. While community sat around the mat learning how to weave, it gave them another opportunity to share their stories and experiences with each other.

NCNS Aboriginal Early Childhood Worker, Amy Lear ran a workshop where community got to make traditional Johnny Cakes. Amy talked about the history of Johnny cakes and once they were made, community got to taste them with native condiments such as bush tucker jams and chutneys.

Dave Gillett, NCNS Aboriginal Community Worker provided a table of Aboriginal Artefacts where community could get up close, touch and feel the different pieces. Dave shared knowledge and stories throughout the morning creating a safe space for participants to ask questions and share their own knowledge.

Thank you to Uniting who came along to support our event and ran a painting workshop with community.

We loved that the boys from the Clontarf Aboriginal Boys Program came to show their support on the day.

NCNS Community Development Worker, Justine Reynolds, who organised the Reconciliation Week Morning Tea shared her thoughts, “The highlight for me, was watching community connect with each other, share, embrace and participate. It was a warm and safe space that allowed for growth, listening, challenging truths, sharing knowledge and experiences. “

Providing opportunities for our community to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultures, rights and experiences is an important step in working towards Reconciliation. When we understand and value Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people’s history, culture, rights and experiences, we can form strong relationships built on trust and respect, and free from racism, creating a better future for all Australians.




Reconciliation Australia. 2019. National Reconciliation Week 2019 Guide. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ra-nrw-2019-guide_v8.pdf. [Accessed 18 June 2019].

Women’s Group Winter Warmer Cruise

Last week, NCNS Community Development Worker, Nada Mohammed took the ladies from the Make Time Women’s Group on a 2 ½ hour Winter Warmer Cruise on the Nepean Belle. For many of the women, it was the first time they had the opportunity to take part in such an experience and we were thrilled to be able to treat these very deserving ladies, who have done so much for their local community.

The morning was freezing cold and windy however this did not discourage the ladies as they eagerly boarded the Belle. The waves from the Nepean River crashed against the sides of the Belle, rocking the ship but not the ladies’ spirits, whose laughs echoed throughout the Nepean Belle as they all shared stories with each other. There was a real sense of sisterhood within the group. It was a peaceful and relaxing experience where the ladies were able to spend time with each other while taking in the spectacular views and enjoying the sounds of birds singing from high up in the tree tops.

When the scrumptious, shared platter arrived at the table filled with succulent roast chicken, tender pork, honey roasted vine tomatoes creamy sautéed potatoes and Greek salad, we could not wait to dig in! After this mouth-watering main, we then got to indulge in a choice of two desserts; Sticky Date Pudding with house made caramel sauce or House Made Vanilla Panna Cotta with white chocolate and raspberry coulis. Both did not disappoint!

During the cruise, we were also lucky enough to have the chance to chat with the captain who shared his experience sailing the Sydney to Hobart.

NCNS Community Development Worker, Nada Mohammed really enjoyed spending time with the ladies from Make Time Women’s Group and shared, “Thank you to all of the ladies who came out and braved the cold. It really was one of the best mornings!”

The Make Time Women’s Group in Cranebrook is open to all women in the local area. We encourage unity, shared experiences and a strong bond of friendship. Many of the women who attend this group were not previously acquainted and now embrace and laugh with each other as if they have been friends for years.

For more information about this group, please contact Nada on 02 4729 0442.

Bringing people together

In 2018, The Australian Psychological Society & Swinburne University of Technology conducted an online survey to explore the loneliness and physical and mental health of Australian adults. The Australian Loneliness Report determined that 1 in 4 Australian adults are lonely, 1 in 4 Australians experience high levels of social interaction anxiety and that lonely Australians have worse physical and mental health compared with Australians who are not lonely.  50% of people who were surveyed sometimes or always feel alone.

Compared with non-lonely people, lonely people:

  • Experience more social anxiety
  • Feel more depressed
  • Are less connected with family, friends and neighbours
  • Worse physical and mental health
  • Poorer overall quality of life

In light of this study, this year’s Neighbourhood Centre’s Week theme was what neighbourhood centres do best, “Bringing People Together.”

Neighbourhood centres play an important role in strengthening communities, generating social well-being and connection.

From our neighbourhood centres located in the Penrith LGA, we work together with our local community to provide quality programs that enable strength, inclusion and respect, while reducing social and financial disadvantage and distress.

For this year’s Neighbourhood Centre’s week, we held a pop-up event at the Cranebrook Village Shops grassed area where community members got to participate in fun and free interactive activities.

We had over 75 community members come through our pop-up event visiting NCNS Community Development Worker, Justine Reynolds, and NCNS Youth Worker, Sami Thoms, at our information table, where they were provided with information about all of our programs and were able to take-home flyers for activities that interested them. We had NCNS Early Childhood Worker, Zoe Harris entertaining parents and children with her speciality, messy play! Families got to enjoy play dough, painting and interactive games with their little ones. If you loved this activity,  we have more! Check out our Messy Play Bootcamps happening this term.

NCNS Work Placement Students, Jo & Fadzai, had a huge role in planning this event with guidance from NCNS Community Development Worker, Nada Mohammed. Jo & Fadzai had so much fun during the cupcake decorating workshop and really enjoyed having the opportunity to engage with the community. We also enjoyed a drumbeats workshop facilitated by NCNS Youth Worker, Joe Benchoam that was full of fun, laughter and energy, uniting people through rhythm.

When planning this event, we knew It was important to create inclusive activities that would encourage community participation and that would ‘bring people together.’

The day was about celebrating the role that Neighbourhood Centres play in the community as well as letting the community know how we can help.

If you are feeling lonely, don’t forget about your local neighbourhood centre, a place where you can connect with others in your local community through a range of programs and activities or just enjoy having a cuppa with us at the centre.Find out what’s on at our neighbourhood centres this term:

South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre

Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre

Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre

North Penrith Community Centre (Kingswood Park)



Have you heard about the Clontarf Aboriginal Boys Program

NCNS Community Development Worker, Justine Reynolds, had the privilege of spending time with Cranebrook High School Students participating in the Clontarf Aboriginal boys program who allowed her to join them on their morning exercise program this morning.

The Clontarf foundation (2013) website states that they are, ‘a charitable not for profit organisation that was created to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.  Their program is delivered through a network of football academies established in partnership with local schools providing an important school-engagement mechanism for many at-risk students who would otherwise not attend or have low school attendance.  Clontarf staff mentor and counsel students on a range of behavioural and lifestyle issues while the school caters for their educational needs. To remain in the program students must continue to work at school.  Graduates are helped to find employment and are supported to stay employed.’

Clontarf Mentor, Tyson picked Justine from Cranebrook High School, bright and early at 5:30am this morning. Over the next 90 minutes they travelled to Windsor, Cranebrook and Kingswood Park to pick up the rest of the crew. All of the boys were ready and waiting despite the freezing cold morning at  just 6°C. Another Clontarf Mentor, Todd then arrived with the second crew. The boys started their strength and aerobic exercises; running, jumping, push ups, and sit ups.  Soon enough they had warmed up from the cold.

Once they completed their exercises, the young men and Justine began to sand the park benches in Illawong Reserve in Kingswood Park. This park is about to undergo a face lift with artwork created by members of the community and some new equipment through a grant received by NCNS from Penrith City Council Magnetic Places grant program. We really appreciate the boys helping to get the park ready for the artwork painting and installation. Clontarf Mentor, Todd talked with the group about sanding techniques and woodwork skills. We were so impressed watching the crew pitch in and help get the job done.

NCNS Community Development worker, Justine expressed her gratitude towards the group, “I can’t thank the Clontarf Crew enough, they stepped up immediately when they had to change plans. A huge thank you will never seem enough”

After they had finished sanding the park benches, they drove to Jordan Springs where they completed a walk, some more exercises and enjoyed breakfast.

NCNS Community Development Worker, Justine Reynolds is looking forward to planning more activities with the Cranebrook High School boys participating in The Clontarf Foundations program. Watch this space!

For more information about the Clontarf Foundation check out their website: http://www.clontarf.org.au/


The Clontarf Foundation. 2013. Our Story. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.clontarf.org.au/about/. [Accessed 8 May 2019].

How we are making dental health a priority

In a previous blog post, we talked about the importance of early childhood dental visits and what we were doing to help make dental hygiene a priority in our local community.

Dental Clinic

During the school holidays NCNS Team Leader – Early Childhood, Carolyn Gilbert worked together with The School Dentist, a mobile dental service, to run an Outreach Dental Clinic for Aboriginal children between 2-17 years at our Culturally safe space, Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre. On Thursday 18th April, 28 Aboriginal children accessed the Dental Clinic.

Dental Clinic

Out of the 28 kids, 4 were referred on for serious dental work as we discovered dental health issues that could mean that they would need to have teeth removed and/or would have implications to their overall health.

2 of these 4 children were found with tooth abscesses. A dental abscess occurs when the dental pulp, the soft inner part of the tooth made up of blood vessels, nerves and tissues, becomes infected due to exposure to bacteria and fills with pus. This can be caused by tooth decay or injury to the teeth that lets bacteria into the tooth. A dental abscess can be treated with antibiotics, draining the abscess, root canal or tooth removal. If left untreated, the infection could spread to your jaw bone, ear and neck on the effected side and in some cases the infection can spread to the brain.  Both children are looking at a possible tooth extraction.

Another child was found with a fractured tooth with nerve exposure. An exposed nerve can cause an abscess and severe dental pain. This child was sent to have x-rays completed to determine the level of damage and it is possible they will require root canal.

A 3-year-old was found to have dental trauma on their baby tooth and dental trauma on baby teeth can cause complications to the permanent tooth developing underneath.

The families of these 4 children were provided with a referral letter for dental work that needed immediate attention as the dental team were not able to perform these procedures on the day.

Dental Clinic

We would like to thank the dental team from The School Dentist who were so professional and approachable, making our families feel so at ease.

We also would like to thank the families who brought their children along for their dental check-up making sure any issues could be identified early and treated before causing serious & costly health problems.

Dental Clinic

Our next Aboriginal Outreach Dental Clinic will be on Thursday 11th July at our Kooly centre.

Download Aboriginal Outreach Dental Flyer July

For more information please contact Carolyn on 02 4729 0442.


Multicultural feast celebrates diverse community of Cranebrook

In celebration of Harmony Day’s 20th Anniversary this year, the day was renamed “Harmony Week” and celebrations took place over the entire week including 21st March which is the United Nations Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Harmony week is about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

Last year NCNS had its first Harmony Day event which was such a success that our community indicated that they would love to celebrate together every year. This year we celebrated Harmony Day with a Multicultural feast at our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre.

The aim was to bring the community together through food, cultural activities, music and performances. We asked the community to bring along a dish that represented their culture so that everyone could get a taste of food from the many different cultures in our local community.

The table was packed with food from all over the world and the smell of each delicious dish filled the space leaving the community eager to begin the feast. The crowd was full of life, laughter and friendship.

Aunty Carol opened the event with a Welcome to Country. The moment she began to speak the energy lifted as her words echoed themes of love, acceptance, unity and welcoming difference into our lives.

The day saw a variety of cultural performances starting with Bollywood Community dancers who enthused the crowd with their vibrant colours, music and movement while making it look effortless. It was a wonderful insight into Indian culture. We had Maltese Line dancers who were fun, upbeat and full of life. Pilipino Kayumanggi Dancers entertained the crowd with a Subli Dance, a cultural and ceremonial folk dance that is usually performed during times of worship.

As well as enjoying the cultural performances, the community also had the opportunity to experience different cultural activities. Henna Tattooing was a massive hit, with many community members thrilled with the beautiful henna designs they had painted onto their hands.

NCNS Worker, Morissa Hita ran a Poi stall where community had the opportunity to make their own Poi, a traditional New Zealand dancing instrument. As people made their own Poi, they found out how it was used and the meaning behind it. As well as Morissa, this stall was run by a member of our local community who was open in sharing the history or her people and her culture.

NCNS Youth Worker, Joe Benchoam ran a drum beats workshop, where participants had a go at beating on tall drums using their hands.

The day was a beautiful display of multiculturalism and a real celebration of our communities’ diversity. NCNS Community Development Worker, Nada Mohammed commented that “This event was an absolute success because of our community’s participation. We would like to thank everyone who came down to support this event, all of those who provided food, performances or activities and were proud to share their culture.”

Once again, this year we were overwhelmed by the way our community united and by their willingness to learn about cultures different to their own. We would like to encourage our community to continue to be open to learning and understanding the many cultures that make up our community so that everyone can feel included, respected and that they belong, so that we can live together harmony!

How we can help your child become school ready

The first five years of your child’s life are so important; they are the foundation for learning, health and well being.

Starting primary school is a huge milestone for children and parents and can be especially overwhelming if children are not school ready. When children are not school ready, it can impact their ability to understand literacy and numeracy concepts expected when they begin kindergarten as well as the behavioural and social demands of the classroom and playground.

Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services Early Childhood team will be running an 8-week program aimed at getting Aboriginal children School ready beginning in May 2019. NCNS Early Childhood Workers aim to prepare children for a smooth transition to school using tools and educational experiences designed to help them flourish in a school environment and continue throughout their school years. This program is an important step to develop holistic skills prior to starting school.

We focus on language and numeracy development and social emotional skills. During the 2 hours each week children will engage in routines in structured environments such as art and craft, mathematical games and gross motor development, encourage self-help skills, for example, children opening their own packaging during morning tea as well as the social aspects of engaging with others.

Parents are a child’s first teacher and we believe engaging families during the program is an important step so that children can learn reciprocal and respectful relationships with an educator.

Building Strong Foundation Blue Book developmental checks and NCNS Early Childhood workers can help to assess any learning developmental needs and provide families with referrals if required.

Children equipped with social and developmental skills find it easier to make friends, listen to the teacher and adapt to the new routine of going to primary school.

We would love to help your child get the best start so they can succeed at school.

This 8-week program is for Aboriginal Children going to School in 2020 who are not accessing any early childhood services.

For more information about this program or to enrol your child, please contact our Early Childhood Team on 02 4729 0442.

Download the Aboriginal School Readiness Program flyer







Cranebrook community collects items for animals in need

During February, NCNS held a valentine’s day morning tea and 2 mystery bus tours in celebration of Seniors Week. On the way back from our second Mystery bus tour, our seniors stopped off at Greencross Vets where they enjoyed a tour of the cattery. During the tour they were touched by the sad stories of the cats who were now staying at the cattery and became eager to help. Following the bus tour, the seniors, the ladies from Make Time Women’s Group and Taste of Everything Workshops for Women as well as the Cranebrook Community rallied together with NCNS Community Development Worker, Justine Reynolds and NCNS Aboriginal Community Worker, Dave Gillett to collect and make much needed items for the vet surgery and for the animals in the flood affected areas of Queensland.

JD, a student from Henry Fulton Public School and her mum have made countless trips to the Cranebrook Community Centre with bundles of old towels and sheets that they have collected for this cause. We have also been lucky enough to have a community member donate dog food and biscuits that will be passed on to the animals who need it.

Kellie, Manager of Greencross Vets at Coreen Avenue expressed that she has been “humbled by the collective community response.”

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved and for their generous donations.

Queen Sheeba the cat has given the donated goods her seal of approval.

We are excited about this wonderful partnership and future donations are in the pipeline.

If you would like to get involved, please contact Justine on 02 4729 0442 or Justine@nepeancommunity.org.au


Helpful links

Greencross Vet at Coreen Avenue

Make Time Women’s Group flyer

Taste of Everything Workshops for Women flyer


Kingswood Park residents work with artist to improve local park

Over the past few weeks, children and residents of Kingswood Park have been working hard to design and share their interpretations and thoughts for improvement of the local park.

Several consultations have taken place at the park with artist Angela Pasqua, who will be working together with the children and residents to make their designs come to life in the park area.

Angela has been sharing her expertise of the art world teaching us all about texture, colour and the richness of the environment.

There has been much discussion around the local fauna and flora. The children and Angela even spotted some flying pelicans.

We are so excited to see how all the designs come together as a collective.

Don’t forget to watch out for the upcoming design implementation dates and come and join us!

To speak with NCNS Community Development worker, Justine Reynolds please contact 02 4729 0442 or Justine@nepeancommunity.org.au

This is a Magnetic Places project supported by Penrith City Council.

How we celebrated this Seniors Festival

NSW Seniors Festival is an opportunity to make new friends or get together with old ones at an array of local community events, many which are free or heavily discounted.

This year, NCNS Community development worker, Justine Reynolds, coordinated 2 Mystery bus tours and a Valentine’s Day morning tea in celebration of Seniors Festival this year. The events were a hit, bringing many seniors together, making new friends and enjoying new experiences.

NCNS Community Development Workers Justine and Nada, along with 14 seniors set off on the first Mystery Bus Tour in Celebration of Seniors Festival. The ride was a laugh, with the group attempting to guess the mystery location the whole way.

At last, we arrived to “The Secret Garden,”  a not-for-profit community garden and nursery in Richmond facilitated by North West Disability Services. They provide training and educational programs in horticulture, permaculture, animal husbandry, vegetable and fruit production as well as specialised engagement and training for children and people with a disability. Their “Food for Thought” program, is a safe supportive and educational environment where people with mental illness and disabilities can learn horticultural skills.

On arrival we were treated to some delicious cake and coffee followed by a tour of “The Secret Garden” with Rick. We were in awe of the mud brick shelters and children’s play area and were also impressed with their focus on sustainability and inclusion.

If you are after a free, relaxing day out, we would definitely recommend a trip out to “The Secret Garden.”

Most of the seniors who came along to our first Mystery Bus Tour had not met each other previously, with people coming from a range of areas from Blackheath to Blacktown. You would not have guessed that they had only met that morning, as they chatted and enthused about their purchases of local fresh free-range eggs, honey and even native bee homes on the trip home.

The next NCNS Seniors Festival event was our morning tea on Valentine’s day with a guest speaker who talked about volunteering and the benefits of volunteering. Out of the 20 Seniors who attended the event, many had experience as volunteers and were able to share their stories with the group.

There were mystery door prizes and each senior going home with a care pack from West Care and a resource pack with information about volunteering.

On our second Mystery Bus tour, the group interrogated the bus driver seeking information about the secret location. It was a hot day so we were glad that this was shorter trip. We soon arrived at Lewers Art Gallery where we enjoyed morning tea while chatting. We had people who came along from a range of areas from Schofields to Campbelltown. One of our seniors was turning 90, an incredible woman whose energy left us in her wake.

During the tour of the art gallery we were told the history of the artwork and were also informed of the volunteering opportunities available, with many seniors keen and taking home information on how to get involved.

On the way back, we stopped in at the Greencross Vets, where we were lucky enough to have a back-shop tour of the cattery. Our group loved seeing all the animals, especially the baby rabbits. As we were shown the cats accommodation, staff shared the sad stories behind some of the cats who were staying there. The group was touched by the stories and were eager to help. They are planning to make cat hammocks and blankets, as well as collecting supplies to send to Queensland for the lost or orphaned pets from the recent floods.

Over the 3 events, we were thrilled to see so many seniors forming new friendships, exchanging numbers and having a great time, this is what Senior’s Festival is all about.

Women’s Group wrap up 2018 with a High Tea

What a year it has been for the Make Time Women’s Group!

With the ladies participating in many volunteering opportunities this year,  they have become an influential force within the local Penrith area.

They have made and donated 40 library bags to local schools, 20 long term medication bags to nursing homes, 50 homemade grocery bags for Mama Lana’s Community Foundation, reducing the amount of plastic bags when providing food to the homeless.

They have helped us at the NCNS Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre with events and Brekky Club food preparation, served food at our annual NAIDOC Cup event as well as donated toys for children in the outback in NCNS Aboriginal Community Worker, Dave Gillet’s Toy run.

This year has been a fabulous journey. The women have learnt new skills, shared ideas and created close friendships where they can support each other in day to day life.

It was lovely to celebrate the end of the year with a High Tea at the Teapot Museum at Leura, where they enjoyed tasty treats and explored the area.

Some of the women are environmental warriors, who have been cleaning up the local area as they walk with our Ploggers Group.  This High tea was partly funded by the collection of cans and bottles in the last half of this year.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all the women who make up the Make Time Women’s Group and congratulate them on the massive contribution to their local community in 2018.

We are looking forward to 2019 and the adventures it will bring!

Would you like fries with that?

“Would you like fries with that?” is a Youth employment project consisting of a series of 5 workshops for young people aged 14-18.

The workshops aimed to provide access to free local workshops focused on developing skills and knowledge, addressing barriers and roadblocks to young people gaining employment, developed in partnership with future employers of local young people in a variety of sectors. 8 of our local young people attended the project with a view to gain casual or part-time work.

Workshops included-

  • An Introduction and What Paper work do I need? – For this workshop we looked at getting a Tax File Number, Superannuation and getting an Opal Card for transport.
  • Creating a Resume / What do I have to offer? – This workshop was facilitated by Schools as Industry Partnerships looking at what skills we have and what young people can put in a resume and how to put one together
  • What are Employers looking for? – This workshop was a great opportunity for young people to hear directly from local employers on what they look for in workers and how to apply and the interview process.
  • Getting ready for interviews– This workshop covered the interview process, how to prepare for interview, practice questions and some mock interviews
  • How do I look? – The final workshop covered getting ready for interview and what clothing would be appropriate to wear. The young people had the opportunity to do some on line shopping to purchase interview clothes

NCNS would like to thank all our partners and employers that supported the project and took time from their busy days to come and talk to our young people to offer them insight into a range of industries and opportunities for work.

  • Schools as Industry Partnerships
  • Leaf Café
  • Woolworths
  • McDonalds
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Green Cross Vet
  • Nepean Aquatic Centre
  • Fitness
  • Productivity Boot Camp

NCNS Staff Xmas Party

NCNS delivers a number of services across the greater Western Sydney, Nepean, Blue Mountains and Lithgow areas and therefore we have a number of teams. This includes our Early Childhood, Aboriginal Services, Aboriginal Dual Diagnosis, Closing the Gap, Youth Hope – Casework, Community Development, Youth, Parenting, Admin/Finance, casual staff and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare teams.

We work collaboratively however being located in various centres means that we are not always together. Each year we really look forward to our end of year Christmas celebration with all of our staff, where we come together as one big team and it’s almost as if we were never apart. There is such a sense of comradery, support and what feels just like a big family.

NCNS is incredibly proud of the team that we have; the way they work and the strong, long lasting connections that they have created with our local community.

We will take this time over the Christmas break to rest and recharge and we look forward to working together with our community in the new year!

Pictured above:  NCNS Staff Christmas Party on Thursday 13th December 2018.

Make Time Women’s Group learn line dancing

We all know that exercise can have a positive impact on our physical, mental and social health but many of us struggle to find a type of exercise that we actually enjoy.

Last Tuesday, Emma from our Make Time Women’ Group courageously put herself out there and shared her passion for dance by showing the group how to line dance. For some of the group, this was a new challenging skill to learn. Emma was very patient with us all while we attempted to keep to the beat, stay in time and work together as a group. She also showed us some creative ways of remembering the different steps.

The morning was filled with fun and laughter, all cares taken away while making exercise an enjoyable experience for everyone that participated.

The ladies were surprised at how much of a work out they got while line dancing, and the level of fitness required to keep going.

Since this was such a hit, the Make Time Women’s Group are planning to incorporate dance at least once a term in 2019 where anyone will be welcome to join.

Check out the ladies, having a go below:

If you would like to find out more about the Make Time Women’s Group, please contact Justine on 02 4729 0442.

Creating connections at KP Community BBQ

In this day and age, we seem to be more disconnected from our neighbours. From working long hours, working weekends, so many scheduled activities for kids, and most of us engaged with technology, TV, Internet, or computer games as well as a lot of our interactions now moving to online or with machines, we are less likely to make links with the people who live around us.

With this in mind, the NCNS Community Development team,with the Youth Team, decided to host a Community BBQ with Kingswood Park residents, an opportunity for the community to connect with others who live in the neighbourhood.

On a hot, sticky and humid afternoon, we came down to the Park across from Kingswood Park School, to set up for our community BBQ. Uniting and Penrith City Council’s Middle years program staff also joined us. Thank you to you guys for supporting this day.  Community bonded over a delicious sausage sizzle and spent the afternoon involved in chalk art, bubbles, ball games, skipping and an Aboriginal craft activity.

Community were also treated to some homemade cookies freshly baked by our Women’s Group that morning. Thank you, ladies!

A huge hit was double dutch skipping; this is where two long jump ropes turn in opposite directions and are jumped by one or more players simultaneously, with one mum in particular demonstrating exceptional talent!

The afternoon was so much fun, with over 80 children and carers coming along to relax and chat to others in the neighbourhood making what we hope will be long lasting friendships. It was lovely to see!

Community better informed through Chronic Disease Workshops

During October the NCNS Closing the Gap team, together with Trudy, NCNS Aboriginal Community Coordinator and Dave, NCNS Aboriginal Community Worker ran a series of information workshops on 5 chronic diseases that affect life expectancy, for Aboriginal community members and their families who may have or are at risk of developing these chronic diseases.

Each workshop was designed for open and interactive discussions between community and facilitators and also allowed space for private one on one questions or concerns. Transport, morning tea and lunch was provided.

The first workshop led by Andrew Woodrup, Diabetes Educator at Nepean Hospital focused on Diabetes; what it is, treatment, exercise, diet control and allied services.

The 9 clients that attended the workshop mentioned that it was informative, useful and clear as well as finding Andrew extremely helpful. Through this workshop we were able to book 3 follow up appointments for clients to return to the Diabetes centre.

One client let us know that she was on a very relaxed high for days after the session with Andrew and was very thankful.’

The next workshop was a Respiratory Education day presented by Shirley Brown, an Aboriginal Chronic Care Nurse from the CACC Nursing Team at Mt Druitt & Blacktown Community Health Centres.

8 community members were provided information on; Oxygen/Carbon Dioxide, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Emphysema, Asthma, Asthma Care plans, puffers, treatment and medication as well as smoking, exercise. Attendants were also able to get referrals to the CALM clinic at Nepean Hospital.

Besides providing information, the social aspect of this workshop was a highlight with one client expressing that she was so excited about getting dressed up and being able to socialise, others being referred to our programs such as Koori Cuppa Women’s Group and reuniting 2 friends that had not seen each other for 40 years! This made us so happy as we know that suffering from chronic disease can be especially isolating.

Our third workshop was a Cardiovascular Education Day with Susan Tewhaiti, registered nurse and Karen McNulty, Senior Aboriginal Health Worker from the Cardiac Rehabilitation unit at Mt Druitt Hospital who presented to 21 community members. We also had Mootang Tarami Van Screeners, Patricia Tetau, registered nurse and Donna Jury, Aboriginal Health Worker (NBMLHD) who provided screening, health checks and health information.

There was show and tell with Pacemakers, Defibrillator and stents as well as talking about heart conditions from the signs and symptoms of heart attacks to medications and health checks. We now have clients that are more likely to attend cardiac rehab.

The next week we held a Renal Education Day and were lucky to have 4 presenters, Mr Lindsay Hardy – ARDAC Study Manager Westmead, Ms Marianne Kerr – ARDAC Research Officer, Mrs Victoria Sinka – ARDAC Research Assistant, Mrs Noella Sheerin (SCHN) ARDAC Research Assistant.

We also had another visit from Patricia and Donna from the Mootang Tarimi Van who provided free renal assessments to 9 community members and 7 NCNS staff.

The presenters went through how the kidney functions, its importance, kidney transplants, the donor register, dialysis and smoking. Clients were then able to take their renal screening results to their GP for follow up.

The last workshop concentrated on Cancer, Alex Foster, a volunteer at the Nepean Cancer Care Information Centre gave a presentation to 17 community members about the different types of cancer including lung, prostate, skin, cervical and breast cancer as well as family history, exercise, the importance of screenings with your GP and support groups around the area.

Through this series of workshops, we are left with better-informed and supported community through new information, referrals, making connections with others who are dealing with the same health concerns and or/diseases.  We would like to thank all of the presenters who gave their time and provided us with vital information as well as the community who came along to each workshop.

To find out more about the Closing the Gap team please contact 02 4706 0291 or ctg@nepeancommunity.org.au


October School Holiday Program

As a parent, time can pass us by so quickly especially when we are all busy juggling the different parts of life; working, preparing lunches, making sure kids get to school, have clean clothes, homework, provided a healthy dinner each night, all while trying to maintain your own sanity. We know the struggle is real! One moment you are caught up in the daily grind and the next minute you realise that its that time again, the school holidays! ‘Mum, I am bored!’ they say, ‘Dad but there is nothing to do at home!’ you hear. You need to find something to keep those teenagers at bay. We understand! We know that youth need a safe, familiar space to have fun and keep them entertained during the school holidays. This is why we run the School Holiday program each term for youth aged 12-17 in Cranebrook & Kingswood Park. Many of the youth that attend have already made a connection with our youth workers through after school activities and events, so parents can rest assured that their kids are with adults that they know and trust.

This FREE program gives young people the opportunity to experience things that they may not have had the chance to experience yet without having to worry about the cost. During October’s School Holiday Program, we had a mixture of activities over the two weeks, a balance of active and relaxed days to suit all types of youth including the following:

Penrith Pools
The day at the pools was a chill day, with youth hanging by the pool with their friends, swimming (thankfully in the heated pool) and munching on sandwiches.

Ice Skating
Youth enjoyed getting out on the ice and were determined to learn the art of ice skating, with some spills along the way. The young people pushed youth worker, Joe out of his comfort zone by encouraging him to skate out into the open and away from the edges. As you can imagine he did this gracefully and was extremely amusing for our young people! You are such a good sport, Joe!

FIFA Competition
This was such a great day hanging at our Kooly centre. As well as the competitive FIFA competition, youth enjoyed tacos and board games. We would like to commend the youth for their great sportsmanship shown on the day and congratulations to Nico, the winner of the FIFA comp, and to Jarrah who was the runner up.

Ninja Warrior Course
One of the favourite activities this School Holiday Program was the Ninja Warrior Course at Vision Gym Sports. It was a great challenge for all, a hands-on experience leaving our youth exhausted and sore by the end of the day. The staff at Vision commended our young people for being so respectful, so congratulations to our youth, you should be really proud of yourselves.

Blaxland Riverside Park
A much-needed rest day after the previous day at the Ninja Warrior Course. We relaxed at the park, playing board games and enjoying a BBQ.

Tree Tops
Due to rain, Tree tops was deemed unsafe so unfortunately, we were unable to do this activity and had to think on our feet. Instead, we took the youth to the movies, very appropriate for such a rainy day. Youth had the choice of two movies, Venom or The House with a Clock in Its Walls. We would like to thank the youth who attended for their adaptability and understanding of the situation and being able to make the most of the day regardless of the weather changing our plans.

Movie Night
We had 18 young people come along to our Kooly Centre in Cranebrook for a movie night. While watching Avengers Infinity wars, we enjoyed popcorn, pizza and the youth enjoyed educating Joe about the story line and the characters (He had no idea!)

The next School Holiday program will be running in January 2019.

Due to the popularity of this program, places book out quick so watch out for our next School Holiday Program on our website or Facebook page and speak to our Youth Team about enrolment.

Free vaccinations & health checks for pets

On Saturday the 13th of October North Penrith Community Centre in Kingswood Park opened its doors to the animals of Penrith. This was possible through partnerships with Greencross Coreen Ave Vets and the RSPCA who provide vets, vet nurses and students who volunteer their time to ensure we can achieve a healthy community for our pets. They also cooked up a sausage sizzle which was much appreciated. The objective of the day was to vaccinate and conduct health checks on our furry friends making sure they are as healthy and happy as they can be. This was an opportunity for community to have educational conversations with the vets from RSPCA and Greencross Vets regarding any concerns they had for their pets. We had over 20 cats and 35 dogs come through the doors to get their yearly vaccinations which was a fantastic outcome.

On Saturday 27 October Cranebrook Pet Day saw another great day working towards a Parvo Free Penrith, with 85 free health checks and 74 vaccinations for the pets of Cranebrook.  A united team effort by NCNS, Greencross Coreen Ave Vets, RSPCA and Bayer Animal Health ensured all pets were vaccinated, microchipped, given a health check as well as worming and flea control were provided by Bayer. We were glad to welcome Bayer to our Pet Days. It was a day full of puppies and kittens and great partnerships.

Kooly Community BBQ

Come join us for our monthly community BBQ’s.

On the last Tuesday of each month, Koolyangarra host community BBQ’s for the Aboriginal Community.

We invite you and your friends to come along, meet our staff at Koolyangarra, find out about the services and programs we run across Penrith, meet some of the services in the area and have a yarn and a feed. There will also will be games and giveaways at each community BBQ.

Our community BBQ days are fun and relaxed. Come and meet new friends or catch up with old ones. There are always plenty of laughs.

W hope to see you at our next BBQ day.

If you would like more information, please contact Trudy on 4729 3907.

Aboriginal Men’s Group

Aboriginal Men’s group was established, in partnership over 12 months ago in response to the lack of space for Aboriginal men to meet in the local area.

Our first gathering saw over 20 Aboriginal men come together to discuss the direction of the group and the importance of having space for men to meet and discuss ‘men’s business’ in a safe place.

Over 12 months on, the Aboriginal Men’s Group has been involved in many community events, including creating a Bush Tucker Garden, had guest speakers from targeted services to discuss issues affecting men, been out on fishing trips to Yarramundi and laid back yarns at the centre, finished with a group lunch each fortnight.

This group continues to grow and if you would like to be involved, please contact David on 4729 3907.

Aboriginal Men’s Group meet at Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre Wednesday’s fortnightly from 10:30am-1pm.