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.

????: Understanding the Voice at Western Sydney University
????: Tuesday 26 September, 6:30pm
?????: 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

Parents Corner: Infant Mental Health Awareness Week: Can You Spoil a Baby?

Parents Corner

The short answer is “no”! Even though this has long been a worry for new parents, the current science reassures us that there is no way to spoil baby. Babies who receive warm, sensitive, and responsive care from their parents get a much better start in life.

You may have been told it’s wrong to give “too much attention” to a crying baby. You are not the first parent to receive this advice! In 1894, a popular guide to parenting instructed its readers that “Babies under six months should never be played with: and the less of it at anytime the better for the infant.” But, as the science of attachment and child development has advanced, this myth has been totally de-bunked.

To the contrary, the more a child can rely on the emotional and physical availability of caregivers, the more independent they become in the long run. A child who knows their parent ‘has their back’ is unburdened to explore their world with full curiosity, tenacity and zeal. Exploration and play support children’s emotional, physical, social, and cognitive development.

On a physiological level, separation from a primary caregiver triggers a stress response in the baby’s nervous system.

This stress response occurs not only in situations of physical separation. When a caregiver is close by physically, but their attention is elsewhere (e.g. staring at a screen), a baby’s stress hormones will naturally spike. Babies can withstand some separation, but pro-longed exposure to stress without recovery is toxic to a growing body and brain.

When distressed or uncomfortable, crying is a baby’s way of reconnecting with a safe adult who can attend to their needs. These needs may be physical (e.g. hunger, tiredness) or emotional (e.g. the need for safety, security, comfort).

Beyond having immediate needs met, a baby needs consistency in knowing their needs will be met in the future.

That’s why the current advice is to respond to your crying baby as much and as often as you can.
Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs every June to highlight the importance of babies’ emotional wellbeing and development. Find out more at

Parent’s Corner: How to Tell the Difference between Bullying and Fighting

Parents Corner

Do you know the difference between bullying and fighting? Researchers have found that many parents struggle to know when it’s bullying or just everyday quarrels between friends, classmates, or siblings. This article will help you learn more.

Children learn important social and emotional skills when they navigate differences with others. Depending on a child’s level of skill and their emotional state, these clashes can often be resolved with minimal to no adult intervention. Bullying, in contrast, is not a ‘rite of passage’ or part of an ordinary childhood. Enduring experiences of being bullied or bullying eithers can severely compromise a child or young person’s social, emotional, and physical development, therefore serious and proactive adult intervention is always required.

Not all mean behaviours are bullying. Pushing, kicking, name calling, starting rumours, or excluding can be extremely distressing, but none are bullying in isolation. Bullying is not a single incident, but rather a pattern of behaviours repeated over time. Bullies often progressively use a combination of verbal, physical, social, and/or online strategies to hurt a victim.

As children learn emotional and behavioural control, they can struggle to disagree respectfully with other children.

Losing control and lashing out in the heat of the moment is not bullying. On the other hand, bullying is intentional; bullies make a conscious choice to harm a specific child.

Bullying is an abuse of power. Power can be physical (i.e., size, strength), psychological (i.e., intelligence, age/maturity), or social (i.e., popularity). Certainly, two children fighting can escalate to serious harm, but if both kids are on a reasonably equal footing this is not bullying. In those cases, both children may need to be separated and supported to develop emotion regulation or social skills.

So, next time you feel concerned about bullying – ask yourself three questions:
1. Is this a pattern? Is the behaviour repeated over time?
2. Does the bully intend to harm this specific victim?
3. Is there a power imbalance (physical, psychological, social) between the two children?

If you answer “yes” to all three, then you need to act. You can get further help and support from the BULLY Project by visiting

Parents Corner: Responding to Children’s Good Behaviour

Parents Corner

Many parenting articles talk about dealing with difficult behaviour and yet, the ways we respond to children’s positive behaviour is just as important.

Due to an inbuilt negativity bias, we pay more attention to the bad than the good. The human species has survived for over 200,000 years in part because of our capacity to be alerted early to potential threats. While a focus on the negative would be useful for survival in the Savannah, it can greatly harm a parent’s relationship with their child when left unchecked.

For children with behavioural difficulties and their parents, a vicious cycle can develop over time. When a child behaves in a manner which elicits a punitive, angry, or hostile response from the parent, this often provokes the child to behave in an even more disruptive manner, and then the conflict escalates and continues.

Conversely, we build more positive relationships with children when we notice and remark on behaviour we appreciate. It helps children learn social and other life skills, it builds children’s confidence and sense of self, and it re-connects us to our love for our children.

The first step is to notice when you feel good (e.g., relief, comfort, pride, delight) in response to something your child has said or done. For specific behaviour concerns, look out for the exceptions. For example, if you are concerned about your child swearing, look out for times when your child speaks politely.

Focus on conveying genuine feelings, rather than providing an evaluation of the child’s behaviour. Avoid vague platitudes like “good boy/good girl”. Praise that feels mechanical or disingenuous can feel manipulative for the child.

Talk about how your child’s action positively affected you. Impacts might be concrete (e.g., in time, energy, money) or relate to your values (e.g., honesty, integrity, respect). Specifically describe the behaviour that you appreciated and why. For example, “I appreciate it when you wash up your cup, because now I have less dishes to do later.”

Sharing appreciation is one of the most powerful ways of building your bond with your child, so it is worth taking the time and effort to do it well and often.

Western Sydney Grand Carers

Western Sydney Grand Carers

Grand Carers met at SPNC for more than 15 years and supported Grand Parents who had primary care of their grandchild on their second family journey.

This was an amazing group that has supported a generation of kids to grow up safe with family. Being a grand-carer can be a lonely and isolating role and this group made a huge difference to the live of carers and children.

We’d like to shout out Lyndon & Cheryl, & Glenys for coordinating the group for so many years as they have recently wound up the group and as parting gesture in line with how they’ve operated over the years donated their fundraising dollars to The Mirabel Foundation. Thank you for your generosity and paying it forward for other kids in care. As Mirabel approaches its 25th birthday, this year is not only about celebrating the achievements of countless children but also our gratitude to donors. It is their generosity and belief in our work that has ensured we have never, nor will ever, turn a child away.

Penrith’s Woman of the Year

Penrith Woman of the Year 2023

Congratulations to our remarkable and courageous leader, Joy Impiombato, who has been named Penrith Woman of the Year in the NSW Women’s Week Awards. What an achievement.

“It was an honor to have been awarded 2023 Penrith Woman of the Year today. As just one of the thousands of incredible women working for a better Penrith community – whether that’s running a business, a family, and working across every sector imaginable – this award represents the enormous resilience and strength of women. We strive as one for a caring, equitable community for all of us.
Stuart Ayres has been an active supporter of Penrith women and their families, and the issues they face. He is an especially strong advocate for women’s economic equality. Thank you to Stuart for this award which I was humbled to receive”

Parents Corner

How to Support a Very, Very Upset Child

Oct 26, 2022

With Summer holidays fast approaching and families gathering at local beaches and swimming pools, it is a timely reminder to keep watch whenever children are near water. Unfortunately, around 22 children lose their lives to drowning in Australia each year. These deaths are preventable with active adult supervision.

Toddlers aged 1-4 years are most at risk because they are fast moving, adventurous and do not understand water safety. Parents think that children will splash and yell when they are struggling but drowning occurs quickly and silently. A child’s airway can fill with water in less than 20 seconds, preventing capacity to call out.

Active supervision requires you to have your full attention on your child when they are near, around or in water. Avoid distractions like smart phones. Always ensure you are within an arm’s length of toddlers, so you can intervene quickly.

Flotation devices or leaving small children in the care of older children does not replace adult supervision. Older children also require your full attention when near, in or around water.

Other steps you can take to ensure your children’s safety around water:
1. Restrict children’s access to water. Ensure gates to pools or spas are securely closed and meet NSW Standards (visit for more information). Make sure there are no chairs or pot plants nearby for children to climb and gain entry. Empty all buckets, containers, and wading pools immediately after use as young children can drown in as little as 5cm depth.
2. Learn and regularly refresh your cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills. You can access a free online course at You can also download, print, and display resuscitation posters to keep as a reminder around pools and spas.
3. Enrol your children in water familiarisation or swimming lessons so they can start to develop their understanding of water safety from an early age.

For more information on water safety, visit or Keep safe this Summer. Keep watch.


Parental burnout is real, and we need to take it seriously

Parental burnout is real, and we need to take it seriously

To feel ‘burnt out’ is to feel over-extended, exhausted, and that you nothing left to give. The feeling of ‘burnout’ is often accompanied by negative thoughts about yourself and people around you. Burning out can look different for different people. It may look loud and aggressive for some, and quiet and withdrawn for others. Regardless of how it presents, burnout is a serious problem for modern parents.

The term ‘burnout’ was first coined to describe an occupational hazard for certain professionals such as social workers, nurses and therapists. It was thought that the stress of constantly attending to others in need can lead to a state of fatigue and cynicism. In recent years, researchers have examined how burnout can happen in other contexts. Parenting is broadly considered one of the hardest jobs there is! And, unfortunately, parents around the world are reporting increasing symptoms of burnout.

Parents who are burning out often feel they are ineffective or poor in their parenting role. This can relate to unrealistic expectations of parenting. Social media can be a source of distress for some parents when they perceive that everyone else seems to raise their children with no trouble at all. Parental burnout can also make it difficult to see your child in a positive light. There can be resentment or a feeling of emotional distancing that threatens the quality of the parent-child relationship if not addressed.

It is important know that if you are struggling in your parenting duties, you are not alone. Burnout is most often reported by parents of newborns, and at other points of significant change or transition in the parenting journey. It helps to ask other family members or friends to give you some practical or emotional relief during these times. You can also call the NSW Parent Line on 1300 1300 52 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for a chat, advice, and referrals. Support is here and available. Burnout is not permanent. You can thrive again, with a team behind you.

For more information and support with your parenting, contact our Parenting Facilitator Monica on 0437 699 019 or email We offer free parenting programs including Triple P (Level 4), Tuning In To Kids, Parent Effectiveness Training, Bringing Up Great Kids and Peaceful parents.

Originally published in the Glenmore Gazette.

Parents Corner: Creating Family Rules: Do’s and Don’ts

Family Rules helps everyone get along better. They help set the standard for behaviour in the home and contribute to a more positive emotional climate. So, why not get started on creating your own Family Rules? Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts to kick things off.


  • Include an aspirational vision statement capturing what your family values, for example “we always treat each other with kindness and respect.”
  • Get everyone involved. Kids and teens are far more likely to ‘buy in’ to family rules if they have contributed to them. Kids as young as four or five years old can be a part of the process.
  • Keep rules consistent across both kids and grown-ups in the house. Kids and teens will respect this, and importantly they will learn from seeing grown-ups take responsibility for their actions.
  • Focus on what behaviour you want to see more of, not less of. For example, instead of making a rule such as, “we will not leave our dirty dishes on the table”, re-frame as “we will put our dishes in the dish washer after dinner.”
  • As a family, discuss consequences of breaking the rules. Make sure consequences are proportionate and logically relate to the broken rule. For example, when someone neglects to clear the table of dirty dishes, they will have additional kitchen cleaning duties that night.


  • Shove your Family Rules in a drawer somewhere. Consider displaying them in a communal space, such as the kitchen or living area, to keep everyone on track.
  • Let your Family Rules gather dust. It’s important to review them, especially as your children grow and develop and behavioural expectations change.
  • Neglect to address breaches of Family Rules. If there are no consequences for breaking them, the rules are not worth the paper they are written on.
  • Forget to celebrate wins. If you notice your kid or teen making a real effort to respect the rules, let them know. Consider organising a fun family movie night or picnic to reward group effort.

For more information and support with your parenting, contact our Parenting Facilitator Monica on 0437 699 019 or email We offer free parenting programs including Triple P (Level 4), Tuning In To Kids, Parent Effectiveness Training, Bringing Up Great Kids and Peaceful parents.

Originally published in the Glenmore Gazette.

National Child Protection Week: Talking to Children About Safety

National Child Protection Week: Talking to Children About Safety

29th August, 2022

Children are safest when they are listened to, respected, and believed by the adults around them. There are ways you can create a safe space for your child to share their concerns and worries with you.

The first thing to know is that open communication is more about how you are with your child than the words you use.

It’s important that you remain calm during even the most difficult conversations. Big adult emotions can overwhelm children and cause them to ‘shut down’.

In addition to staying calm, approach your child with curiosity and non-judgment. You may feel temptation to lecture but check this urge at the door. During a hard time, would you confide in someone who only points out your faults?

Probably not! If children feel judged, they are less likely to come to you with their struggles again.

Choose the time and place carefully. A neutral space such as the living room can be ideal. Pick a time when you are not too busy to listen. For some children, they feel more comfortable talking about their emotions during parallel activities like a taking a drive in the car or going for a walk.

Focus on listening, rather than responding. Being listened to helps children explore their feelings, put ideas into words, brainstorm solutions to their own problems and develop self-confidence. Your full focus makes them feel respected and helps them know that their thoughts and feelings matter.

Be open to talking about all feelings – joy, sadness, fear, anger, worry. Separate behaviour from emotion. Remember: “all feelings are OK, but not all behaviours are OK”. Children build their emotion vocabulary from the adults around them.

Talk to your child about safety, where they feel safe, with whom they feel safe and what it feels like to be safe.

Discuss ‘early warning signs’ (how their body feels) and encourage them to trust their feelings and instincts.

National Child Protection Week (4-10 September) is all about the ways that we can all work together to build communities that support children and families. Visit to find out more.

Article Written + Submitted by

Monica Purcell | Family Facilitator

Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services

NCNS Parenting Programs

Parents Corner: How to Say “No” to Your Child

Parents Corner: How to Say “No” to Your Child  27th July 2022

Limits and rules keep children safe and help them grow into responsible, moral, and thoughtful adults. They also help children develop behavioural and impulse control. There are absolutely times when you have to say “no” to your child, but as every parent knows, this is not always simple or pleasant.

Every child needs to work out who they are as a unique individual. This is called ‘autonomy’ and it’s about deciding what you want and don’t want, like and don’t like, and making choices accordingly. Children aged between 18 months and 3 years especially need to flex their ‘autonomy’ muscles and that’s why we often hear a whole lot of “NO” from toddlers!

At the same time, everything in a child’s life is largely decided for them – when and what they eat, what activities they do, who they see, when they sleep, and so on. As adults, we can sometimes forget this. This is not to say that children should be left to their own devices, there’s a good reason why responsible adults are in charge. But what we can do is support children to make choices where appropriate and safe.

Consider your child’s age and stage of development when offering choices. For younger children, open-ended choices can be overwhelming, so start with offering 2 or 3 options. For example, we can offer a 2-year-old girl the option to wear her hair out or in a ponytail. For older children and young people, you will need to offer some ‘brain storming’ to support their decision-making process. Sit down together, identify all options, discuss the pros and cons of each, and then allow your child or teen to pick the best solution.

Balance out your “no”s with “yes”s. Imagine if all you heard was “no”, you would feel pretty fed up too! We can get in a habit of automatically dismissing a child’s requests. Instead, try using a ‘yes with conditions’, for example, “yes, we can read a story after you’ve brushed your teeth”.

When children are given plenty of developmentally appropriate opportunities to make decisions about the things that affect them, they don’t need to fight us on every “no”.

Article Written + Submitted by

Monica Purcell | Family Facilitator

Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services

NCNS Parenting Programs

Parents Corner: How To Give Instructions Your Child Will Follow

Parents Corner

How To Give Instructions Your Child Will Follow

30th June 2022

Every day, well intentioned parents communicate important messages to their children. The problem is that not all messages are received in ways we anticipate. Communication is a complex process and a skill we often need to work at no matter how old we are.

These tips will help you get your message across and enjoy a more stress-free family life.

• Gather your child’s full attention: Make sure you are no further than an arm’s distance and address your child by name first. Make sure that they are not doing anything else like playing with a toy or watching TV.

• Give instructions about what you want your child to do, rather than what not to do: Think about moving from ‘STOP’ to ‘START’ instructions. For example, instead of saying, “don’t play with the ball inside”, try “please take the ball into the backyard and play outside”.

• Be specific about what you expect: Spell out exactly what needs to happen next and avoid judgmental and vague language. For example, instead of saying, “don’t be so lazy”, try “please put your dishes in the sink after you’ve finished eating”.

• Always consider age and stage of development: For an instruction to be followed, it must be appropriate to that child’s age and stage. Consider the type and number of words you use.

• Break larger tasks into smaller steps: This is especially true of younger children. “Get ready for bed” refers to following a sequence of several steps: pack away your toys, change into your pyjamas, brush your teeth and so on.

Think about prompting children by giving one to two steps at a time.

• If your child follows an instruction, praise them: When you show children appreciation for what they do right, this reinforces good habits.

When instructions are unclear, children (and parents) can easily become overwhelmed and frustrated. When parents use calm, clear and developmentally appropriate instructions, this supports children’s growth and development.

Article Written + Submitted by
Monica Purcell | Family Facilitator
Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services


Western Weekender – NAIDOC CUP 2022

Sport meets culture at NAIDOC Cup event in Emu Plains By Nathan Taylor


Photo: Melinda Jane.


1300 Aboriginal kids from primary schools all over the local area descended on Hunter Fields in Emu Plains on Tuesday for the 12th annual NAIDOC Cup.

Run by Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services, the event has been a popular fixture in the Penrith community for more than a decade.

Read More…

Parents Corner: Let the Kids Play: Value of Play for Children’s Development

“Play is the work of the child,” according to physician and educator Maria Montessori. As our understanding of child development deepens, the value of play has only become more apparent.

‘Free play’ describes play that is unplanned, spontaneous, and led by the child’s curiosity, interest, or imagination. For example, a child starts to draw and decides to create their own board game on the page or to create their own map of the house. Free play is crucial for optimal physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Physical play involves moving the body and can look like kicking a ball around the yard or learning a new dance. This helps to build children’s muscles and bones.

Constructive play is all about creating something, examples include building a block tower, painting a picture, and playing a song on a musical instrument. This supports children’s capacity to solve problems, connect new ideas and follow their curiosity.

Social play happens when your child plays with other children. This gives children opportunities to develop important social skills such as cooperation, communication, and language.

Fantasy play is when children use their imagination to create worlds and characters, for example playing dress up or pretending to be a mum and baby. These activities support social and cognitive skills.

At Nepean Community and Neighbourhood Services, we offer free supported playgroups. Supported playgroups provide a fun and safe place for children to explore and engage with developmentally enriching activities such as sing-a-longs, story time, arts, craft, and free play.

Playgroups are a great place to connect with other families in your area. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to answer any burning parenting questions you may have, and to offer ideas for maximising play at home.

To find out more, visit our website at or follow us on Facebook by liking @ParentingInPenrith and @NepeanCommunity.


Humility, a lost key to leadership

There are 3 things that struck me when talking with Reece: he’s polite; he’s articulate; he loves his community of Cranebrook and he’s humble.

Okay that’s four, but it was his humility that struck me most.

Reece Nuttall of Cranebrook High School has just been awarded 2016 Local Aboriginal Student of the Year.

Stuart Ayres, MP (left), Reece Nuttall and Craig Dunne, Acting Principal of Cranebrook High School.

Yes he’s happy and yes he feels that this is a real honour but he is also genuinely surprised. “I had no idea I was being put forward for this award and was completely shocked, I’m not even 100% sure why I’ve got it. The stuff I do at school and in the community is just to make sure everyone is happy and participating. I feel so blessed and honoured to be awarded Aboriginal student of the year but I’m really surprised”.

Ms Jo Ford, Cranebrook High School, Head Teacher Welfare, nominated Reece for the award, I asked her why? “I’ve known Reece since year 7 and have watched him grow into a leader amongst his class members and to demonstrate leadership within the school and local community. Everything Reece does he does without seeking or wanting accolades. He just does it”.

For me humility is the heart of leadership, partly because it is such a compelling character trait and more than fear or authority can inspire others to contribute their best. I can’t help feeling that Reece will continue to grow and flourish in leadership roles because there is real strength, dignity and humility in the way he approaches life.

Congratulations Reece.

Reece will be a guest speaker at the ‘Cranebrook Connects’ Community Workshop on Wednesday 22nd June, 9am at Braddock Public School.

If you would like to know more about ‘Cranebrook Connects’ – the Cranebrook Collective Impact Project, please click here .

6th Anniversary of National Apology Day

NCNS worked together with Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre and Family Worker Training to mark National Apology Day, with an event full of workshops, ceremonies, community information and stalls. Read all about it in the attached article published in the Penrith Press.

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Maths Deadlies – making maths fun for Koori kids as we “Close the Gap” in numeracy!

Once again, NCNS have partnered with Cranebrook High School, to make maths fun. In an exciting competition between local primary schools, NCNS helped run a number of activities, from problem solving to fast money! While all the schools were very close in results, the ultimate winning team was Samuel Terry Public School’s Didgeridoo Team, with Cambridge Park Public School winning overall.

Maths Deadles supported by NCNS

The Launch of the Bobby Williams Boxing Academy at Koolyangarra

The Bobby Williams Boxing Academy was launched in style, with Anthony Mundine attending to officially open the Academy. The Bobby Williams Boxing Academy is held at Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child & Family Centre in Cranebrook, running three afternoons per week for kids aged 12-25.  See Bobby and some of the kids he’s working with  talk about this academy in this video.  Or to read the article featuring Anthony Mundine, click here.Bobby Williams Boxing launch_August 2013_1200

Park Kings project at Kingswood Park

NCNS have partnered with ICE to run the Park Kings project at North Penrith Community Centre. Nine students learned to use multimedia tools over 9 weeks. They combined digital images with music to display a digital representation of their lives, with the resulting artworks being launched at the monthly Kingswood Park Family Fun Day. Find out more in the article below…

Kingswood Park_Park Kings_June 2013 copy 200

NCNS and Braddock Public School put on Reconciliation Event

NCNS have collaborated with Braddock Public School, putting on a day of traditional activities, dance, food and art, to learn about Sorry Day, in honour and respect of Australia’s indigenous community. Find out more in the article below.

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