Aboriginal School Readiness Program prepares children to start school in 2024

Our Aboriginal School Readiness Program was run at Braddock Public School in Cranebrook during Term 3 on Thursday mornings for eight weeks to support families and children prepare for starting Kindergarten in 2024.

A part of the school readiness program is connecting families with schools and their procedures, staff meeting children and their parents. We also visit environments around the school, so children learn their way around. We teach them phonological awareness, the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of sentences and words, numeracy skills, playing games to teach children how to take turns, and follow rules. They get the opportunity to express their creativity through art and develop language skills.

We take the children to sit in a classroom to get a glimpse of what happens there. We focus on skills to help during recess and lunch such as opening packets of snacks, giving parents ideas on healthy easy lunch options, how to make an order at the school canteen, what apps to download or look at, at whatever school you may attend.

For more information about our Aboriginal School Readiness Programs or early childhood programs feel free to contact our Aboriginal Child and Family Workers, Amy or Zoe on 02 4729 0442.

Sassy Sista’s take a trip to the three sisters and learn about artefacts, wildlife and bush tucker

On Thursday 24th August, NCNS Aboriginal workers Leonie Haines and Bronwyn Nuttall along with teachers Nicole Wallington and Sarah Stonestreet, from Cranebrook High School, had the privilege to take 25 young females from Cranebrook High School on a trip to The Three Sisters. The 25 students had been learning the different stories that have been told about the three sisters.

We had the opportunity to meet Uncle Lester who was our tour guide, and he explained the different artefacts, wildlife and bush tucker founded in the Blue Mountains and how it is significant to the area. Leonie was asked to help Uncle Lester out with some of his artefacts. Whilst Leonie stood there, she was given a dilly bag which she placed around her forehead and the bag sat on her back. This is used to collect foods and place them inside, for example berries. She was then given a coolamon to place on top of her head. This is used to carry water or foods and to place a newborn baby in.

Next was a digging stick to be able to find different foods in the ground. Aboriginal women were also Hunters and Collectors.

Uncle Lester then took us on a bushwalk to show us the different medicinal bushes for certain injuries and sores that you can use if you get injured in the bush. He also spoke about the lyrebird and how important his role is in the mountains.

The last leg of our walk, we saw a Bower Bird’s nest. It is coming into mating season for the Bower Bird, and he has his little nest looking pretty, waiting for his mate to show. You can see the blue materials he has collected to put into his nest.

We all had an amazing day and learnt many new things!

Kooly Culture Day sees young children connect with culture through engaging sensory activities!

On Friday 15th September our Early Childhood Team held an entertaining Culture Day at our Aboriginal Child & Family Centre at Cranebrook.

We had the pleasure of having Erin Wilkinson from Yanmala Cultural Education who provided an interactive experience for the children who attended the day. Yanmala Cultural Education works in the Western Sydney region educating and promoting Aboriginal Culture. They have ‘programs designed to engage children in a culturally safe learning environment using sensory and tactile resources and activities to develop cognitive, fine, and gross motor skills.’

Erin introduced herself, explained who she was, and the mums & children created a circle and introduced themselves and what tribe they are from which was a great moment for connection.

Erin read a dreaming story ‘Kootear The Echidna’ by Cindy & Adam Laws engaging the children in the story, talking about all the animals.

After the story, the children moved onto making their own echidnas from clay. They collected their own sticks and used match sticks for the spikes.

The children learnt how to dance like the animals.

After the parade of echidnas were completed, Erin asked the kids ‘Why do Aboriginal people wear ochre?’ Some replied, for dance. Erin explained why Aboriginal people wore ochre including for ceremonies, Sorry Business and dance.

The children painted their hands with ochre and placed their handprints on a Kooly Kids poster.

After the day, NCNS Aboriginal Child & Family Worker, Zoe Simpson, received a call from one of the mums who attended with her son. She told Zoe that her son came home from the day and spoke to his Dad and all of his relatives about the day non-stop! We love hearing this!

“The highlight for me was seeing the children’s face light up, listening and taking it all in. Hearing the children laugh and be so engaged was a wonderful thing to experience.” Zoe Simpson, NCNS Aboriginal Child & Family Worker

For more information about Yanmala Cultural Education please click here.  To find out more about NCNS Aboriginal programs please click here.

Click here to view Kooly Culture Day Gallery.

Introducing our new parenting facilitator Sussan Omar!

Tell me a bit about your new role?

My new role will involve running group parenting programs and providing some individual support to parents. I am trained in Circle Of Security and Bringing Up Great Kids so they will be the programs I focus on initially.

Group programs are a great way for parents and carers to share their experiences and knowledge as well as learn evidence-based strategies to support their parenting. Most groups will run for 6-8 weeks.

I have been working with parenting in some way or another for over 15 years. Early on my focus was working with young people who were at risk of homelessness, I then went on to support refugee and asylum seekers to settle into Australia.

But the last 5 or so years I have supported women and children who have been impacted by Family and Domestic Violence, its really in these roles that I was able to work one on one with mums to help them understand the impact of trauma on their parenting, their children and support to repair the child/parent relationship.

As a specialist Family and Domestic Violence caseworker and Service Lead for an after-hours service I was able to provide practical supports to women to either leave a violent relationship and start anew life or to stay in their homes safely without the perpetrator. Being child focussed helped to support an better understanding between the mother, child and other services.

My last role before NCNS was a departure from the community space, working as a Community and Stakeholder Engagement officer for a new program that aimed to grow the Home Care Workforce. It involved meeting numerous services and community members to inform them of the opportunities in Home Care for older Australians.

Parenting courses are a safe space to learn effective parenting strategies and to reflect on your own parenting. Parenting programs are not just for when things go wrong, in fact by attending groups you can help identify what is happening for a child and meet their needs before issues arise. Ideally if both parents or caregivers can attend it really helps with parenting of a child.

We have all learnt things from the way we were parented, friends and family some good and some that are outdated or just not in the best interest of the child.

By working on your own parenting practice, you are creating a stronger connection between yourself and child. In turn this creates safety for the child who will not only thrive but also come to you when they are in need.

The more we can do as a parent, especially in the first 3 years, the better the outcome for the child.

What would your best advice to parents be?

There is no such thing as perfect parenting, get the information and support you need and don’t beat yourself up about the past. There is always time to work on your relationship with children. And don’t forget to give yourself a break when you need it. Parenting is a full time job, you can’t give if you don’t take care of yourself.

What is something that you find challenging about your work?

Just the technology, I’m not a fan of computers and the online world yet its part of the world we live in.

What motivates you at work?

Meeting new people.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Love nothing more then a walk along the beach, listening to the waves, reading a good book or catching up with family and friends.

Tell me something interesting about yourself?

I’m really interested in natural health and healing with essential oils.

What are your favourite parenting courses to teach?

Circle of Security – Parenting™ because you get great feedback from participants.

We have a Circle of Security – Parenting™ Program starting in Term 4, why would you recommend Circle of Security – Parenting™ and who is this for?

Circle of Security – Parenting™ is a great program to do in the early years, I would recommend it particularly for parents and caregivers of babies to toddlers.

I would recommend this to start the journey of parenting as it helps you reflect of your parenting and helps you to recognise and respond to your child’s need early on. This leads to secure attachment which helps your child grow and navigate life’s challenges.

To get in touch with Sussan:
0437 699 019

Keep up to date with all our FREE parenting, family and children’s activities:


Web: www.nepeancommunity.org.au

To find out more about Circle of Security – Parenting™ course please see our flyer.

Children staying at brekky club longer, giving them a chance to really connect & develop long lasting friendships

Brekky Club in Term 3 has been great fun with a variety of things going on. We have been doing lots of artwork with the guidance of Uncle Dennis, activities to identify safe people during Child Protection Week, teaching each other card games and board games.

The children have been enjoying the great weather and getting outside for some cricket and tag, table tennis competitions and of course eating a whole bunch of toasties.

Brekky Club Worker, Kim Sutcliffe explained,I have seen great growth within brekky club, with a large portion of attendee’s being highschoolers whom we see each day throughout the week and who stay for the entirety of the time Brekky Club operates which is great to see. The Braddock kids are forming some great relationships with the teens and really looking up to them, and I think this will help form future safe people for the kids as they enter high school.

Seeing the children express themselves throughout the artwork has been amazing! Their connection to culture and sense of belonging is so strongly expressed and seen through this.

Children of all ages staying at Brekky Club for longer periods of time, instead of grabbing a toasty and leaving. This has been a huge win and allows us to really connect with the children and form relationships with them, which keeps them coming back.

We are sad to see some of our highschoolers leave as year 12 wraps up this week, but we wish them all the best and have been encouraging them to drop in and visit us!”

For more information about our Brekky Club please click here!

Online Safety for Kids

As parents and caregivers, our concern for children’s online safety is paramount. To protect them effectively, we must actively engage with and understand their digital world. Open communication from early years through adolescence can reduce online risks.

Common Online Risks

Depending on your child’s age and internet usage, risks may include:

Excessive Screen Time
One of the primary concerns for caregivers is the amount of time children spend online. Current guidelines recommend specific limits based on age.

• For children under 2 years old, it’s recommended to avoid any screen time other than video chat.
• Between the ages of 2 and 5, limit screen time to no more than 1 hour per day.
• For children and adolescents aged 5 to 17, the recommended limit is no more than 2 hours a day, excluding school-related work.

Online Gaming
Online gaming can become addictive and impact other areas of a child’s life if not monitored.

Cyberbullying, comprising hurtful messages, posts, and images, that are sent directly to the young person or shared online. This can impact young victims mentally and physically.

Child Grooming
Child grooming involves adults posing as peers, establishing trust with minors, and leading to potential sexual abuse. According to e-safety research, 38% of young people chat to strangers online, and while most interactions are harmless, caregivers need to be aware of the risk

Sexting, common among youth, can turn problematic when coerced, shared without consent, or used for control. Both males and females are equally at risk of being victims here. It’s important to note that once an image is sent, it can be lost forever in cyberspace.

Exposure to Online Pornography
Children may inadvertently come across explicit content, affecting their development.

Practical Steps for Caregivers

Open Communication
Engage in online activities with young children and maintain conversations about their online experiences and safety.

Set Boundaries
Establish clear rules on where and when kids can access the internet, favouring communal spaces.

Agree on Rules
Discuss age-appropriate time limits and consequences for device usage. Create agreements together when possible.

Provide Support
Foster a safe environment where children can seek help when facing online threats or issues.

Use Parental Controls
Utilise built-in controls in devices and apps to monitor and restrict online access.

Today, children enjoy the digital world for fun, education, and connection. While it can be enjoyable, parents must remain vigilant, set boundaries, and support their children.

For more resources, visit:

Article written by Sussan Omar, Parenting Facilitator

NCNS supports this event and would love to see the community coming along to have the opportunity to hear a range of speakers and find out more about why the referendum and the Voice is so important in our journey towards reconciliation and a shared future.

Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, share their feedback and learn about ways to engage in their local communities.

It is an opportunity for Australians across the country to come together, learn, and engage in a constructive conversation about the Voice Referendum and its potential impact.

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁: Understanding the Voice at Western Sydney University
𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻: Tuesday 26 September, 6:30pm
𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲: Multipurpose Space in Building O, Western Sydney University, Kingswood Campus (KW-O.1.20)

Register your attendance here:

Banner image for Understanding the Voice - Penrith Town Hall

We Listen to Little Voices in Order to Create Loud Futures this National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

Did you know that the date 4th August was originally used the celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken away from their families when they were young so they who did not know when their birthday’s were? These children were known as The Stolen Generations.

According to The Family Matters Report 2019, Indigenous children are 2.5 times more likely to be vulnerable to developmental disadvantages than non-Indigenous children and only half as likely to access early childcare services.

This is why NCNS focuses on creating culturally safe spaces for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children and their families. We do this at our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre in Cranebrook and run programs such as Aboriginal Supported Playgroups, Transition to school programs for Aboriginal children, Developmental Outreach Days and more. To see our Aboriginal programs, click here.

This year’s theme for NATSI Childrens Day was ‘Little Voices, Loud Futures’ focusing on the bright futures of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children and their voices to be empowered by their culture, speak their truth and create a brighter future for all Australians.

Each year NCNS, holds a National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day event at our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre with a variety of entertaining and engaging activities for Aboriginal children.

We spray painted hands big and super small.

We had chipboard cut outs of Australia which the children got to colour. We had Australian Animals colour scratch activity.

Children big and small enjoyed a range of sensory play.

Our Aboriginal Community Worker, Carolyn Gilbert, cooked a delicious chicken soup and beef stew that melted in your mouth for everyone to enjoy as well as some healthy fruit for dessert.

We loved seeing some new families come and enjoy activities, link up with other families and show interest in attending NCNS groups in the future.

It was an amazing day celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their cultures. It is important to continue to do this every day so that these children have the best shot at a bright future and to create a better future for all Australians.

View our gallery from the day here:

3 Aboriginal Community Members Found with Hearing difficulties and 15 Provided Free Glasses through Mootang Tarima Bus Visit

The Mootang Tarima Bus comes out to Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre on the first Wednesday of each month between 10am – 12pm.

Donna Jory is part of the Aboriginal Chronic Care Outreach Program alongside Rae Campbell who is a registered Nurse. The Chronic Care Outreach program brings out specialised services each month based on the health needs observed through consultation with community.

Our last two outreach specialised visits were from the Brien Holden Foundation (vision) and Hearing Australia.

Hearing Australia screen 12 Aboriginal community members for hearing. 3 members did not pass their screening and follow up appointments were arranged to address any issues that were picked up.

Brien Holden Foundation screened 20 Aboriginal community members vision and 15 out of 20 found that they required glasses and were provided glasses for free.

The next visit will be on Wednesday 6th September. For more information please contact Carolyn on 0437 083 839 or Kooly on 02 4706 0280.

Less Stress and Tears: Tips for Shopping with Young Kids

Most parents have endured the sheer panic and embarrassment of having a child cry and scream in the middle of the supermarket. The good news is that shopping centre meltdowns can be prevented with a little pre-planning. Follow these tips for a more peaceful shopping experience.

Tip #1: Choose the time of day wisely

Consistent routines support young children to adapt to the rhythm of the day. Hungry or tired children are more likely to struggle with simple tasks. Avoid going to the shops during your child’s regular meal or rest times. If necessary, bring a packed snack to satisfy hungry tummies.

Tip #2: Enrichment, enrichment, enrichment!

Young children are little learning machines always curious to explore. Keep children busy at the shops by giving your child a simple shopping list, having your child pick and count items and/or pack bags at the counter.

Tip #3: Have simple ground rules

Before leaving for the day, give your child 1-3 simple ground rules phrased in the positive. For example, “we’re going to the shops this morning. You need to stay next to Mum/Dad the whole time and walk, not run.” Have your child repeat the rules back to you to check understanding. Afterwards, review the rules together to discuss what went well and what could improve future shopping trips.

Tip #4: Effectively use rewards

Parents fall into three traps when it comes to rewards: Too expensive, too far in the future and too vague. Young children live in the moment and will only connect behaviour to a reward when its immediate. Rewards don’t always cost money; often the best reward we can offer children is our time and attention. In explaining rewards to children, avoid vagaries like “be good”. You must outline which specific behaviours that will attract rewards. For example, “if you stay next to Mum/Dad for the whole shop, we will play at the park afterwards.”

Any young child can turn from a hindrance to a helper when given guidance, age-appropriate responsibilities, and effective rewards for cooperation.

Kooly Deadly Kids Dance Group Perform for Quakers Hill Junior Rugby League Club

On 15th July 2023, our Kooly Dance Kids were asked to perform for Quakers Hill Junior Rugby League Club.

Each week, Quakers Hill has different performances from different cultures attend and this particular week, it was our week which was extremely exciting for our dance kids.

Jessy McKinless, Nulungu Dreaming, along with Kooly Deadly Kids, met at Waite Reserve one beautiful sunny morning where the boys began to paint themselves and get ready for the performance.

Once our kids had finished with their formalities, they asked for the boys who were playing rugby league that morning, to join in with them and learn some of the dances.

The rugby league boys loved the idea of this and enthusiastically joined in with our dancers. Kooly Deadly Kids enjoyed dancing together and told the boys when they are ready, they are more than welcome to come to Kooly to learn with them.

If you would like to know more about our Kooly Deadly Dance Kids Group facilitated by Jessy from Nulungu Dreaming. please feel welcome to call Carolyn (02) 4706 0280 (Kooly) or 0437 083 839.

To download our flyer, please click here.

We Watch Didge Class Attendance Soar from 3 at Inception to 20 Aboriginal Boys Weekly

Every Monday we have Didgeridoo classes with Jessy McKinless from Nulungu Dreaming. Jessy is also our dance facilitator. Jessy started didgeridoo classes at a local footy field and had around 3 boys at the time who wanted to learn. They would meet at this field each week. When NCNS had heard of this happening, we called Jessy to ask him if he wanted a space at our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre and he said yes please, as there were more boys becoming interested and it was soon becoming winter.

Jessy started with 3 boys and now we have 15-20 boys coming to Kooly on a Monday to learn how to play the didgeridoo. The boys have come such a long way and Jessy did say, some of them are becoming better than he was when he was at their age. This gives the boys a boost and they are always practicing, seeing if they could out do Jessy.

Hearing the creative sounds coming out of the didge is always a beautiful sound to hear and relaxing and we enjoy listening to the boys practicing their didge.

Keep going strong boys! To download our Didge Class flyer, please click here.

Shout out to Joan who generously volunteers her own time to enrich the lives of seniors in our community

We would like to give a special shout-out to Joan (left) from Golden Oldies, who has done a phenomenal job arranging activities and leading the group for many years. Her dedication and commitment are truly appreciated by the group and NCNS. Joan generously volunteers her own time to enrich the lives of seniors in our community.

We recently had the pleasure of celebrating Christmas in July together. The event featured raffles, a delightful meal with and homemade soups creating a joyful atmosphere where we all shared in the holiday spirit.

For those who are interested, Golden Oldies meets every Thursday from 9:30 am to 11:30 am at the South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre. It’s a wonderful opportunity to join our vibrant group and enjoy engaging activities and the companionship of fellow seniors.

Once again, let’s extend our gratitude to Joan for her exceptional work and the positive impact she has made on our lives. Her commitment to serving the community is truly inspiring. We look forward to many more enriching experiences together.

Kids and Pets: Tips for building a Safe and Respectful Relationship

Parents Corner

Around 63% of Australian households host a furry member of the family. Children reap many benefits from having pets; the research suggests that that beyond companionship, caring for animals may support the development children’s non-verbal communication skills and empathy.

Looking after pets can be a positive learning experience for kids, but the care of an animal should not be left to a child alone. Parents must play an active and thoughtful role in teaching children how to care for animals responsibly and safely.

Pets should never be bought or adopted on a whim (even if your child begs and begs). A cat or dog is a long-term commitment for the whole family. When calculating the forecasted costs of your new furry companion, do not under-estimate veterinary costs over a pet’s lifetime.

Always supervise your child with the family pet. Be in eye and ear shot of toddlers and babies around animals and stay close in case you need to intervene. Keep animals securely contained and away from infants when you are not in the room and establish separate spaces in the house for pets and young children.

Help your child recognise your pet’s cues of stress or fear. Together, you and child need to look out for the both the obvious signs of distress (e.g. cats hissing, dogs growling) as well as the more subtle signs (e.g. a cat swishing its tail). Children should be encouraged to give animals space when appropriate, including at sleeping and eating times.

It is essential that you model respect for animals so that your child can learn by example. Children learn more from observing us than listening to what we say. Show your child how to speak calmly and quietly with animals and handle them with gentleness. Praise your child when they do the right thing, for example “great job giving soft pats”.

NCNS in partnership with RSPCA hosts regular Pet Days at Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre to offer subsidised de-sexing and micro-chipping. Check out our Facebook page to learn more: https://www.facebook.com/NepeanCommunity.

Follow these tips and you can create a healthy and happy home for both kids and pets.

Empowering Youth: NCNS’ School Holiday Program Fuels Adventure and Friendship

Nepean Community and Neighbourhood Services (NCNS) recently concluded an amazing School Holiday Program that left teenagers buzzing with excitement. Packed with thrilling activities like Oz tag, laser tag, and rock climbing, this action-filled program created unforgettable memories and provided valuable experiences for all participants.

The program’s sporting activities weren’t just about having fun—they offered a range of benefits for the teens. Engaging in team sports like Oz tag not only improved their physical fitness and coordination but also fostered collaboration, discipline, and good sportsmanship.

A unique highlight of the program was promoting independence by encouraging participants to prepare their own sandwiches and snacks for some of the days. This hands-on experience empowered teens to take control of their nutrition and develop essential life skills like meal planning. It was a practical and valuable lesson in self-sufficiency.

One of the program’s standout aspects was the emphasis on social connection. Engaging in group activities and sharing meals created opportunities for teens to form new friendships and strengthen existing bonds. Beyond the fun and socialising, the School Holiday Program offered valuable personal growth opportunities, allowing participants to discover their strengths, build resilience, and develop a greater sense of self.

NCNS’ School Holiday Program provides an outstanding adventure for teenagers. From the thrilling activities that improved physical fitness to the promotion of independence and social connections, the program offered a well-rounded experience. With a focus on personal growth and the development of life skills, participants walked away with more than just amazing memories. NCNS remains committed to providing transformative experiences that empower and enrich the lives of young individuals in the community.

We celebrate the strength & resilience of our Elders & immerse ourselves in Aboriginal culture at NAIDOC Jamo

For the first time in over 3 years the Penrith community came together to celebrate NAIDOC Week at the annual Penrith City Council NAIDOC Week event at Jamison Park.

NCNS has been a part of NAIDOC Jamo since its inception, and we have loved watching the event grow over the years, seeing so many people coming out to support and immerse themselves in Aboriginal culture, connection, resilience and achievement.

Our popular NCNS Cultural tent had a program of diverse and interactive workshops.

Jessy playing the Didge created a huge buzz and drew a large crowed to watch our talented Kooly Deadly Kids – Nulungu Dreaming dance group perform.

NCNS Managing Director, Joy Impiombato enthused, “It’s always a massive highlight to hear songs being sung in language, and watch the kids dance the ancient stories of the Lyre Bird, and Sea Eagle, and proudly sharing their culture.”

After Jessy’s corrobboree, we moved on to Uncle Les’s Firestick workshop, a great interactive session that the kids loved learning especially making actual fire with a special fire stick and some grass.

Aunty Erin created a warm, inviting space for her workshop on River Stories – an intimate and informative deep dive into the life of Darug people living on the Hawkesbury.

Aunty Tracey had so many join her to make Aboriginal bracelets or necklaces using her beautiful beads and charms.

The introduction of a marketplace for Aboriginal creators to sell their wares was a wonderful addition this year. NCNS purchased some beautifully crafted puzzles and games which we will be using in our Aboriginal Supported Playgroups.

The main stage had an interesting line up of speakers – a highlight being the Elders in Dialogue – an extended conversation with some of our local Aunties and Uncles who shared their stories, looking at the past but also to the future, expressing their hope for future generations.

What is always great about NAIDOC Jamo, is catching up with everyone, making those connections, reconnecting and to see community members enjoy the day catching up with mob.

NCNS Managing Director, Joy Impiombato commented, “This year’s theme ‘For Our Elders’ resonated with so many of us, knowing of their strength, resilience and gave us an opportunity to thank them for everything they have done for their families and communities. Congratulations to the organising committee and to everyone who was there to make the day a huge success!”






The Refugee Week theme for this year is ‘Finding Freedom’ raising awareness of the issues affecting refugees.

On the 21st of June at St Marys Memorial Hall the Penrith Multicultural Interagency celebrated Refugee Week. This is an interagency that NCNS proudly supports and works alongside.

The Refugee Week theme for this year is – Finding Freedom, this has a number of important functions: It raises awareness of the issues affecting refugees. The theme aims to highlight aspects of the refugee experience and help the broader community to understand what it is like to be a refugee. It helps to make Refugee Week a national celebration. The theme provides a focal point for events across Australia, uniting separate activities into a single nationwide celebration. It promotes harmony and togetherness. The theme unites individuals, communities and organisations from many different backgrounds behind a common cause.

The common theme is a reminder that, regardless of our differences, we all share a common humanity. It broadens the impact of Refugee Week. The theme provides a common, cohesive message which can be promoted across the country, helping to maximise the effectiveness of awareness-raising activities.

With a turn out of 170 people from all different cultural backgrounds, the event was an amazing success and display of multiculturalism.

JK Williams are making a great contribution to the success of Brekky Club with volunteers coming on Friday mornings

JK Williams are making a great contribution to the success of Brekky Club with volunteers coming on Friday mornings to make hundreds of toasties, play footy and walk with the kids to school. They have also donated a table tennis table which is proving to be a great success. It means the high school kids are coming in and hanging around rather than just grabbing a toastie and leaving which gives us the opportunity to get to know some of them and make those valuable connections.

The primary kids are also enjoying having them around and it means there will be some familiar faces when they make that big transition to high school.

It’s such a valuable program and wouldn’t happen without our faithful NCNS staff who get up early to come and help.

Getting Creative in Cranebrook during magnetic places project

The art works for our Magnetic Places Project, called Pathway to Connection, have now been completed.

We had children from Tamara and young people from Kooly Youth Drop-in making and decorating the ceramic masks. They will be installed on the fence in the Neighbourhood Centre backyard. The designs to go on the figures were created by Braddock Public OOSH, Kooly Youth Drop-in and the Kooly Art Group.

We were lucky to have Uncle Bryan come and help some playgroup families and Women’s Group participants to paint the designs onto the figures which are now ready to be installed on the Neighbourhood Centre fences. It’s been a great project and we saw a lot of happy faces and artistic talent at the workshops facilitated by Diamando Koutsellis.

When the works are installed, we’ll have a launch event to celebrate. Watch this space!

One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience chronic otitis media

The Developmental Outreach Day was a great flowing day, we had many families come through and gain access to these services within the comfort of their community. We have received positive feedback from families, as well as the organisations who joined us on the day.

We had HAPEE Ears for Early Years program, who saw 8 children, each appointment takes 30 minutes for bubba a little less. All the children did so well with Tiffany, who coordinated the check ups. One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience chronic otitis media (HHSC 2019) and associated hearing loss that can make it hard for them to listen, learn and talk to others. Evidence shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience up to thirty-two months of conductive hearing loss in their first five years of life, compared to just three months among non-Indigenous children (Coates et al 2020; and Kong & Coates 2009).

We had Michelle and Sue from the Building Strong Foundations for Aboriginal Children, Families and Communities services come out and provide culturally safe child and family health services for Aboriginal children from birth to school age.

We had 1 child come through for their regular child health checks and it was documented on their Blue Book.

Bounce Mobile Dentistry is a mobile dental van who are focused on promoting healthy oral hygiene, leading to improved oral health within our community. It is a fully equipped van, with dental worker Meriam and Benita on board for check-up and cleans. We had 9 children get their teeth checked and some fillings were done, and they were also provided with a free mini dental kit to kickstart their oral hygiene practices at home.

All in all it was a highly successful Outreach Day, with many families joining us on the day having gained access to these services to further improve their children’s health and wellbeing. There were many refreshments supplied to families, and parents were forwarded onto other services run by NCNS as per their individual requirements.

The next Outreach Day is planned for Friday the 20th September 2023, please keep an eye out on the NCNS website for our flyers and more information.

Reconciliation week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, achievements, and contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia

On the 30th May we celebrate Reconciliation Week at Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre with the local community and service providers. The morning started with a smoking ceremony to open the event, invite participants to the space and pay our respects to the traditional custodians of this land. Jai Pitman, opened the event with important words and reminders to walk this country with respect, honor and remembrance of the people past, present and our future generations that are emerging.

Joy, NCNS, general manager also addressed the audience, sharing with us the importance of reconciliation. This years theme is ‘be a voice for generations’, encouraging all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we work, live and socialise.

Reconciliation is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The date remains the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds, and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Community and Service providers had the opportunity to walk through the smoke from the ceremony, reflecting on what was, what is and what always will be Aboriginal land. We all enjoyed a lunch together which gave us a further chance to have a chat, share stories and our own experiences in our journey for Reconciliation.

2000 Aboriginal kids & their families from over 30 schools celebrate 12th annual NAIDOC Cup

On Tuesday 20th June at the Hunter Fields in Emu Plains over 2000 Aboriginal kids and their families from more than 30 schools attended the 12th Annual NAIDOC Cup, a celebration gala day combining sports, culture, and connection to country. Students attended from schools from the lower mountains to Mt Druitt. In addition, we had 200 high school students from a number of local high schools, who have been participating in NAIDOC Cup since they were in primary school, come back every year and help us to run the event. They help with umpiring and refereeing the Oztag and Netball competitions, delivering food to the students and a part of the logistics of running such a huge event!

On the day we had a huge sand circle which we drop onto the Hunter Fields to create a major focus of the day where we hold an important welcome opening ceremony that involves Aboriginal Elders and Cultural leaders. The children get to watch and participate in dances from various Aboriginal tribal nations. The NICE circle with Evans High School and Eastern Creek High School hosted Jessy’s Nulungu Dreaming and Kooly Deadly Kids Dance crew alongside of Doondoch South Coast dancers. NCNS Team Leader Aboriginal & Youth Projects, Bronwyn Nuttall, exclaimed, “Watching the different corroborees from different nations was so powerful!”

After the welcome and opening ceremony, we all break off. The joeys go to have lunch and the Oz-tag and Netball competition commences. After lunch the 900 joeys, who are the younger children who are not participating in the sports competitions begin a round robin of traditional Indigenous games, cultural workshops including firestick practice, didge, artifacts and art, lots of dance as well as cultural art and craft. The traditional Indigenous games is always a hugr hit as the kids get to burn off some of that excited energy by playing some incredibly fun games!

The day is not possible without our partners JK Williams, Westfield, Platform and the Emu Plains Lions Club. Thank you so much to our partners. The support of the schools has made this event one of the most important dates on the calendar for Aboriginal kids across the Nepean area. The day is so important as it is one of the few times that Aboriginal kids can get together and celebrate their culture, connection to country, each other and to kin and spend time with Aboriginal Elders and cultural leaders in a relaxed and informal setting. This is such an important day for our community.

Congratulations to the winners of the Netball competition Whalan Public School and to the winners of the Oz-tag Competition Cambridge Gardens Public School!

We look forward to seeing you all next year!

In 12 months, up to 50 Aboriginal families positively impacted by outreach days

NCNS is one of many organisations in Penrith that focus on the importance of reaching all ages and groups within our local community. One way that we aim to achieve this is through our Aboriginal Developmental Outreach Days. These days are run quarterly to offer regular opportunities to Aboriginal families with babies and toddlers, so they have free and easy access to medical care.

Running these days at our well known Kooly centre, eliminates the sometimes-intimidating, clinical setting, aiming to offer safe space for parents and carers who may otherwise be reluctant to seek assistance. We welcome the community to come along without the fear of judgement and hope they leave feeling informed and encouraged to attend in the future.

On the day we all work together to creative a positive experience, from arrival to activities, assessment, and a smiley-wave goodbye. Our team and other professionals are passionate about making a positive impact on the Aboriginal community in our area.

The Penrith Aboriginal community makes up 4.9% of the Local Government Area (LGA), and more than a third (34.4%) of this demographic is aged 0-14 years old. You may think that 4.9% is a small number, but it equates to 10,578 people and 3,500 of that is youth and children’s < 14 years (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021). When you break it down and look deeper, the numbers represent real people and families in your community.

Just in the past 12 months, we’ve seen up to 50 Aboriginal families positively impacted by the program, which means 50 families are now more prepared when sending their children to school. By addressing a child’s health and developmental status early on we hope to give parents the opportunity to have strong and healthy family units and enjoy life rather than worrying about health concerns. For most adults, physical health exams are an invasive thought, having someone poke and prod you to check your body for any concerns. Let’s step back for a moment and think about how daunting this can be for children to experience. We aim to take away this fear and make the process as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Having professionals in the one place, can reduce any distress children can feel from the screening experience, and rather than having appointments spread out over weeks or months across multiple medical centres we address concerns all at once. We’re also helping kids to process and see that healthcare is valuable and not so scary after all. Sometimes it’s a simple as a distraction, activity, or friendly face there to guide them through what could be an otherwise stressful experience.

For example, HAPEE Ears for Early Years program, examine hearing over a 30-minute appointment which is a long time for little kids. HAPEE Ears will spent time looking for any markers of concern and provide information to parents for further check-ups. They will look for common health issues among Aboriginals, like Chronic Otitis Media (HHSC 2019) which is associated with hearing loss that can make it hard for children growing up to listen, learn and talk to others.

We had Building Strong Foundations for Aboriginal Children, Families and Communities services come out and provide culturally safe child and family health services for Aboriginal children from birth to school age. We had 2 children come through for their regular child health checks and it was documented on their Blue Book.

Totally Smiles Mobile Dentistry is a mobile dental van who are focused on promoting healthy oral hygiene, leading to improved oral health within our community. It is a fully equipped van, with dental workers on board for check-up and cleans. We had 14 children get their teeth checked, and they were also provided with a free mini dental kit to kickstart their oral hygiene practices at home.

It is our hope by running programs like the Outreach Day, we can help address shared concerns within the Aboriginal community and look for a way to advocate the needs of the next generation of Darug people.

The next Early Childhood Developmental Outreach Day is Wednesday 31st May 2023 from 9am – 4pm. There will be fun activities for the family and the following services will be there on the day:

  • Bounce Mobile Dentistry 0-6yrs (Dental Checks)
  • Building Strong Foundations 0-5yrs (Health Checks)
  • HAPEE Ears For Early Years, Hearing Australia 0-5yrs (Hearing Checks)

Bookings are essential for all above services.

To book appointments please contact Amy on 0477 004 773 or Zoe on 0409 986 121 or Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre on 02 4729 0442

Early Childhood Developmental Outreach Day Flyer



Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2021, August 10). Penrith – 2021 Census Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people QuickStats. Retrieved February 24, 2023, from Australian Bureau of Statistics: https://abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data/quickstats/2021/IQSLGA16350

Chat with Monica about all things Parenting

What is your role?
My role is to support parents to understand the science of child development and equip them with skills and tools to more effectively meet their children’s needs.

I support parents in two ways: by delivering parenting group programs and providing specialist individual support as required.

I am a qualified Social Worker with about 6 years’ experience working with children, young people and families. I have worked in a variety of roles including caseworker and school counsellor over different parts of Sydney.

What parenting services does NCNS provide for the community?
Our group programs have largely been developed and field tested by experts in the field of child development and mental health. The first purpose of parent groups is to provide specific information and skills training, and the second (but equally important) is to connect parents with each other. Group participants often breathe a big sigh of relief when they learn they’re not the only ones struggling with this whole parenting thing!

My individual work can look like a one-off session or several sessions over time with focus on a single parenting goal. An example goal might be to support a child to return to school after an extended absence.

How often do programs run?
Each term we have at least three programs on offer.

Since the pandemic, there has been increased demand for online delivery for our time-poor parents, so we offer groups either online via Zoom and in person at a NCNS or partner venue.

Every program runs over a series of weekly sessions. Duration and length of programs varies, our longest is 8 weeks and our shortest is 4 weeks. Sessions can run from 90 minutes to 3 hours.

Programs run during school terms and between school drop off and pick-up times to make it easier for parents to attend.

What are the needs of parents in Penrith?
Chronic stress is the most common denominator for all parents that I work with. Family units are far smaller in current times than ever before in human history, with two to one parent households being the norm now. Parents are expected to take on the lion’s share of work caring for their children as well as somehow surviving in a difficult economy with very little affordable housing and a rising cost of living. The pandemic and recent natural disasters have added yet more stress, pushing many families to crisis point.

NCNS helps parents by providing space, time, individualised support and accurate information to help them on their journey. Honestly, I am happy if parents just come to programs to take advantage of the free child minding (although, this might be the initial selling point, they often leave programs having gained more than a break)!

What can parents expect to get out of the program/s?
So, starting with what NOT to expect: Lectures. Even though I have to talk A LOT about neurobiology, attachment and stuffy topics like that, I always aim to make the content accessible to everyone. Learning happens when it’s fun, tangible, practical and relevant to your life right now.

What parents can expect: A warm welcome, a break, plenty of lightbulb moments, a laugh or two, accurate information, a cup of tea and a bite to eat (if in person), and understanding (and not just from NCNS staff, but from fellow parents as well).

Do you have any advice for struggling parents?
You are not alone. Please avoid “Mumstagram” – social media is never an accurate reflection of other people’s lives! Parenting really is the hardest job, and it has its low points. You are doing your best and we are here for you.

Can you recommend any resources for parents?
Of course, #ParentingInPenrith is totally worth a follow for inspiration, information and updates on local activities and programs!

Parent Line NSW is a free telephone counselling and support service for parents and carers with children aged 0 to 18 who live in NSW. It is staffed by trained, professionals counsellors who are available 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 4pm to 9pm on weekends. Call 1300 1300 52.

Raising Children Network is a website that provides free, reliable, up-to-date and independent information for parents. Visit raisingchildren.net.au.

What’s programs will you be running during Term 2 2023?

Non-Accredited First Aid for Children & Babies
Learn how to confidently help your child in an emergency. Facilitated by an ICU Nurse. Topics include Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Anaphylaxis, Asthma & Choking.

Tuning In To Teens
An emotion-focused program for parents of tweens and teens who want to learn about how to stay connected to their young person during the turbulence of adolescence.1

Circle of Security-Parenting (Online)
Relationship-based early intervention program designed to enhance attachment security between parents and children. 7 Weeks Online course! (Open to NSW Residents only)

Parenting After Family Violence  
A nurturing, kind program for mothers/ female caregivers who wish to heal relationships with their children and teens after family violence. Address to be sent via SMS to participants one week before the first session.

Parenting Programs Term 2 2023 Flyer

Free talk… tell us anything you’d like to add in the comments below. 

Getting creative in Cranebrook, working with Community Artist Diamando Koutsellis

We’re being creative in Cranebrook, working with Community Artist Diamando Koutsellis to create some life size figures to decorate the fences beside the walkway between the Cranebrook shopping centre and Hosking St. The figures represent the locals of Cranebrook, including humans, birds and animals. We’ve also been creating some clay masks and kids from the early childhood centre and young people form the Kooly Youth Hub have been working on these. They will also be on display.

Next term we’ll start painting the designs onto the plywood figures and we invite you to come along and help.

Supported by Penrith City Council through Magnetic Places.