Making Women’s Health a priority!

In 2013 Jean Hailes, a national not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to improving women’s health ran the first national Women’s Health Week with an aim to make good health a priority.

Why is there Women’s Health Week you may ask, well women are known for being great at caring for those around them but can often forget to take care of themselves having detrimental effects on their physical and mental health.  So, during the first week of September each year, the Women’s Health Week encourages women to put themselves first for a week!

Each day of the week, they covered a different topic with Monday focusing on ‘Silent topics’ such as period pain, heavy periods, endometriosis and itchy vulvas. Tuesday was about happier hormones, Wednesday concentrated on Mental Health, Thursday centred on Pelvic Power and the final day, Friday talked about being “Wired & Tired.” The Women’s Health Week website has some amazing resources about Women’s Health, as does the Jean Hailes website, I would absolutely recommend taking the time to check them out! As I browsed the pages of the website, I found myself picking up different pieces of information that I had never knew or even thought about before.
Scroll to the bottom of this blog for some links that we thought may be useful!

This year, Jean Hailes conducted their fourth annual Women’s Health Survey with over 15,000 women 18 and over, living in Australia responding to the survey.

Some highlighted results of the Women’s Health survey that stood out for me where that:

  • 8% of women surveyed described themselves as overweight or obese
  • 1% of women who responded had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety by a doctor or psychologist
  • 3% reported not getting time to themselves on a weekly basis
  • 9% of women surveyed could not afford to see a health professional when they need one
  • 9% of women surveyed first seek information by searching the internet when they have a health concern
  • Fact sheets and face to face education were the most popular ways to receive health information
  • The top 5 health topics women wanted to know more about included; weight management, healthy eating/nutrition/ mental and emotional health, anxiety and menopause.

For the full report please click here.

With NCNS having 3 women’s groups, we felt that it would be beneficial to hold a Women’s Health Day open to all women in the local area, giving them an opportunity to have face to face education about women’s health in a familiar setting.

So, on Tuesday 4th September at our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre, we had guest speakers from local services come out and speak to the women of our local community. We would like to thank the folks from Uniting, Terry White Chemist, Penrith Women’s Health Centre and Barnardos for the wealth of knowledge and information that you offered on the day and providing an opportunity to link those who attended to services that they may have never otherwise known were available to them. The purpose of the day was not only to provide information but to help the ladies feel comfortable approaching local services when they need some help.

With cost being a barrier for many women when seeking help from a professional, it was fantastic to find many services available that were either free of charge or with minimal cost. We hope that these women, now armed with valuable information can spread their newly acquired knowledge to their family, friends and other members of the community making sure that good health is priority for everyone!


Useful links:


Understanding Endometriosis
Period Pain Symptom Diary
Booklet: The Vulva


Monday: Silent Topics
Tuesday: Happier Hormones
Wednesday: The ‘Me’ in mental health
Thursday: Pelvic Power
Friday: Wired & Tired



































Handmade bags for the homeless

At the end of last year, with Christmas quickly approaching, we couldn’t help but think of the many community members who may be alone or have nowhere to go to enjoy a Christmas meal. While looking for local services that served meals during the holiday period we came across Mama Lana’s Community Foundation (MLCF) who serve Christmas lunch and dinner to homeless or disadvantaged community members in the Penrith area. They were after donations, so we decided to ask all our staff to donate anything they could and bring them along to our own staff Christmas Party. Once collected we were able to drop off a whole bunch of nonperishable goods, drinks and snacks to contribute to this Christmas feast for those less fortunate than ourselves.

This is when we first found out about MLCF. Little did we know, how much they really do for the homeless in our area; not just during holiday periods but every week of the year. MLCF is a not for profit, run by Roger and Lana Borg, created when they both realised the great need in our area to help feed the homeless and underprivileged. They serve hot meals, SIX nights a week to the homeless and/or disadvantaged. Not only do they supply food, but they supply toiletry packs, clothing, sleeping bags, swags and blankets! What an amazing foundation!!!

This year Mama Lana’s have opened their own little white house located at 56 Woodriff St in Penrith where they serve free hot meals, sandwiches, dessert, tea, coffee and hot Milo Mon – Saturday from 7:30pm.  The new place is also open on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s 10am till 4pm for breakfast, tea, coffee, hot showers, change of clothes and clothes washing facilities.

Last month Justine, NCNS Community Development Worker came across a post on the Mama Lana’s Facebook page asking for anyone who might be able to donate a sewing machine to make reusable/ washable bags that they could use to transport produce.

Our Make Time Women’s Group, who have previously sewn Chemo bags for cancer patients, jumped at the opportunity and were keen to start sewing handmade bags.

Amy from MLCF came over to our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre just as we were ending our daily Brekky Club; a program that provides meals to children who may otherwise go without. Families also come along to our Brekky Club. It has become a place for community to come to, where they can feel safe and valued and we can really connect while sharing a meal.

On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people are homeless; over 28,000 Australians in New South Wales are experiencing homelessness due to financial difficulties, accommodation issues, domestic violence and relationship issues, mental health issues and substance abuse issues so we feel that it is so important that organisations like MLCF and programs like our Brekky Club continue to be supported.

As a grassroots organisation it really warms our heart to see the ladies come together to contribute to a much-needed cause in their community. When Amy greeted the women’s group, the ladies were already in action with a production line of ladies ironing handles, cutting patterns, sewing all the pieces together as well as baking cupcakes in the kitchen to donate along with the reusable bags.

After letting the ladies know more about what MLCF does and why they do it, Amy collected 10 bags that they had already completed and took them to the MLCF meal service that night where each bag found a new home and those who received the bags admired the workmanship.

The handmade bags are also used to pack personal items for crisis hampers that are given to women who have fled their homes from domestic violence. They have also been used as library bags.

This month the women’s group also took a bus trip to Mama Lana’s new premises to bring donations of bags and baked goods. Tracey from MLCF gave an informative tour that was certainly an eye-opening experience.

If you are interested getting involved or donating to Mama Lana’s, you can check out their Donation Request list here, contact them directly on 0407 909 447 or check out the Mama Lana’s Community Foundation website.

If you would like to get involved in our Women’s Group, please contact Justine on 02 4729 0442 or

Do you need help completing your tax return?

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

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

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

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

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

We have appointments available with our Tax Help Volunteer on selected Fridays between 9am – 12:30pm  at South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre.

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

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

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


Information from

We’ve got the class you’ve been waiting for!

Are you tired of mundane exercise routines? Are you looking for a class that is gentle, fun and exciting?

Well, we have great news, we have a belly dancing class just for you!

Belly dancing can not only improve your physical health and promote self-confidence, it can help to relieve stress in a supportive, friendly and safe environment. A different way to burn calories, belly dancing can be great for toning the upper arms, exercising abdominal muscles, strengthening ankles, sculpting legs and is an activity accepting of all body types! Not your ordinary exercise class, the ladies belly dancing class is modest, yet the ladies are able to get glam with beautiful, jingling hip scarfs and veils.

We interviewed Catherine O’Brien, Ghawazi Caravan troupe member, who facilitates the ladies belly dancing class at South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre.

What is your belly dancing background?
I am a long-time member of performance troupe Ghawazi Caravan from the Blue Mountains and I dance with them regularly.

How long have you been belly dancing?
Just over 20 years now (gee, time flies, doesn’t it?)

What type of belly dancing do you teach?
I teach a combination of traditional oriental style belly dance and tribal style belly dance, which is an eclectic mix of Oriental, Folkloric, Flamenco and Classical Indian styles.

How long have you been teaching the class at South Penrith Neighbourhood Centre?
Since October 2016

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m actually very shy 🙂

 What made you want to run a belly dancing class in a community setting?
I was asked to do a “taster” class for a Seniors Week event and the weekly class evolved from there.  I really enjoy providing a worthwhile activity for women from the local community that is beneficial in so many ways, i.e. generally low impact, gentle physical exercise which stimulates the mind at the same time, and of course creating a safe, friendly place for like-minded women to meet and make new friends. I believe this is in keeping with the philosophy of the Neighbourhood Centre, which also provides an easily accessible space for the class.

How would you describe this class?
It is a fun relaxed class of lovely women who are happy to be themselves and enjoy having fun! We do a gentle warm up, followed by learning some fundamental belly dance movements, then we often learn a sequence of movements or a choreography, then end with a gentle cool down. We always have a bit of a laugh along the way!

What do you love about the class that you have currently?
Mostly the lovely ladies who come along!  They make the experience so wonderful and worthwhile! The continuous support of the lovely staff from the Neighbourhood Centre is also very much appreciated.

What do the ladies who attend enjoy most about this class?
I think the ladies enjoy the comradery and the relaxed fun nature of the class – we all love to have a laugh and connect with one another.

Who would you recommend this class to?
All women who are looking for something a little different to get a bit of exercise, be active in both mind and body and make new friends at the same time!

If you are interested in joining this class,  you are more than welcome to come along to get a taste on Mondays 12:30 – 1:30pm  or contact Catherine on 0416 199 842.


Women’s Group Make Time to Get Pampered!

On Tuesday 7th August our Make Time Women’s Group took a well deserved break from sewing and indulged in a pamper day.

Some visitors from Uniting came along to talk about their service in the area and also brought a wonderful morning tea and some lucky door prizes. The ladies enjoyed a lovely massage from Cameo Skin Fitness.

Make Time Women’s Group is

Check out the ladies enjoying the pamper day below:



NATSICD: Our future and carriers of our stories!

Due to our local area having a large Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community, as well as NCNS being a bicultural organisation with many Aboriginal workers, National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (NATSICD) is a significant day for us to celebrate. Each year we make sure to honour our future leaders in connection to their culture and community, and to highlight their strengths with an event at our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre.

The day was an opportunity for the community to come together, connect with each other, share and learn about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Culture. With over 90 community members coming along on the day to show their support, it was a great display of the proud Aboriginal community that we have.

NCNS runs an Aboriginal girls and boys dance group, Walan Mahlee, each Friday at our Kooly centre, that gives young people an opportunity to embrace their culture and to learn traditional Aboriginal dance. For NATSICD, Walan Mahlee showcased traditional Aboriginal dance for the audience, who enjoyed their performance so much that some even joined them on the dance floor. We loved seeing everyone get involved and having a great time with our amazing and talented Aboriginal young people.

Children engaged in cultural activities such as storytelling, drawing symbols in the sand, as well as using natural items and native materials during play. The face painters were a massive hit with the kids, we loved seeing their magically painted faces in every direction that we looked. The children had a ball taking photos in our photobooth showcasing their beautifully painted faces with their family and friends. Their eyes lit up as they saw the photos print out of the photobooth and they got to take away a memento of the day, a wonderful reminder that they are cherished and celebrated!

Tracie Harris shared her favourite cultural items with the group which included a beautiful Turtle shell.

A highlight of the day was hearing songs in Wiradjuri language, by Sharon Williams who is a proud Koori women and member of the NCNS Board. To hear her beautiful voice in language, was such a treat for us and we would like to give a massive shout out to her for being so courageous and giving us her time on the day.

We would also like to thank all of the community who came along on the day and helped us to celebrate Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children who are our future and carriers of our stories.

Although the day is over, NCNS will continue to celebrate our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children through our many cultural programs. To find out more about our Aboriginal programs click here.

Q & A with Narelle Smith plus her top tips for parents!

On a chilly Wednesday morning, we sat down with NCNS parenting facilitator Narelle Smith, to find out more about her role at NCNS, Triple P Parenting and of course a bit more about herself while she warmed her toes by the heater.

What is your role at NCNS?
Family Worker (22 hours per week) and Student Well being worker (5 hours per week at a school).

How long have you been practising in the community?
22 years!

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The alarm and having to do the kids lunch boxes.

How would you describe your day job to a child?
I work with lots of parents talking to them about what their kids need.

What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?- Raising 3 beautiful boys
– Delivering Triple P parenting for 9 years

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?
I do some individual parenting work, I do some Triple P parenting groups and I teach Second Step (social emotional learning program) at school.

What three words would you use to describe your role?
Interesting, interesting and interesting!

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
I read widely; people who are leaders in the field of psychology, neuroscience, child development; anyone that does the research and is evidence based.
My clinical supervisor keeps me sane.

What do you like most about your job?
Seeing parents take on the strategies, apply them in their family life and reap the rewards for their hard work. I love changing the trajectory of children’s lives and creating hope.

What is your motto or personal mantra?
“Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
Credit Rudyard Kipling

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Crochet. I am hopeless at it!

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?
BREATHE and yoga!

What three traits define you?
Persistent, resourceful and honest.

What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
Landscape gardener or environmentalist.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I am a beekeeper! 

What did you want to be when growing up?
When I was at school, I wanted to be a school teacher, but my parents wouldn’t support me to go onto year 12 so I did try to do a teaching degree as an adult. I was bad at the curriculum stuff but good at the social and emotional stuff, so I did not continue with my teaching degree. I have done other degrees.

What phobias do you have?
I hate rats, mice and enclosed spaces.

What has been your favourite project at NCNS?
I have very fond memories of working in Kingswood Park, running playgroup, running an expressive arts group after school and several other community projects like Hearts for Healthy Relationships, Grandparent’s day, Father’s Day breakfast, When We Were Kids project and DrumBeat!

And the ADHD work, working with parents and children, creating the posters with Rachel and creating more awareness of ADHD and debunking the myths!

What is the best thing about Triple P Parenting?
It works if you use it!

Why would you recommend it to parents?
It has a strong focus on building relationships and encouraging new skills and behaviours.

How is it different to other parenting programs?
It is holistic.

Who would you recommend Triple P to?
The whole world!

Can you give an example of how Triple P can change someone’s life?
Triple P gives parents a toolbox of tools that they can use every day with their kids.

Describe the impact that Triple P has on families?
It makes family life and parenting more positive and more enjoyable.

What tips would you give to parents who are struggling with their children?
– Change your focus to pay attention to your child’s desirable behaviour
– Use descriptive praise
– Stop calling your children ‘naughty’ and ‘bad.
– If the behaviour is predictable, its preventable.

Narelle has an amazing blog with heaps of useful information for parents. Click here

For out latest parenting programs click here.

School Holiday Program July

This July our School Holiday Program was a success with around 13 young people attending each day of the program. Youth had their pick of an exciting array of activities including an outing to Hoyts see Incredibles 2 , roller blading, visiting the reptile park, a Horror Movie Night at our Kooly centre, a trip to Fagan Park, Code Red and Aerialize where they learnt new skills such as aerial, trapeze and Lyra, with Aerialize and Hoyts being the stand out this term.

The Horror Movie night, featuring “Don’t Knock Twice,” that took place on the spooky ‘Friday the 13th’ was also a hit, where youth and Youth workers got dressed up to suit the horror theme. The youth enjoyed the night so much that they would love to do another movie night soon. On the same night, they all celebrated one of the youth’s birthday’s which added to the excitement of the night.

Sami & Joe, NCNS Youth workers would like to commend all the youth that attended the July School Holiday Program  for their respect for the staff, community and each other. Joe commented that “it was truly and enjoyable program.”

Check out photos of the program below or click here to go to the NCNS Youth Facebook Page.


Roller Blading

Roller Blading School Holiday Program Roller Blading School Holiday Program Roller Blading School Holiday Program

Reptile Park

Reptile Park School Holiday Program Reptile Park School Holiday Program Reptile Park School Holiday Program Reptile Park School Holiday Program

Horror Movie Night “Don’t Knock Twice”

Horror Movie Night School Holiday Program

Fagan Park

Fagan Park School Holiday Program Fagan Park School Holiday Program Fagan Park School Holiday Program Fagan Park School Holiday Program


Aerialize School Holiday Program Aerialize School Holiday Program Aerialize School Holiday Program Aerialize School Holiday Program Aerialize School Holiday Program Aerialize School Holiday Program Aerialize School Holiday Program

NAIDOC Jamison Park – Because of Her, We Can!

Every year, our cultural tent at the NAIDOC Jamison Park event is an amazing cultural experience for all of those who attend the day and this year was no different. We created a spectacular display of photographs of our Aboriginal staff with the important women in their life honouring this year’s theme, “Because of her, we can!”

Tracie Harris educated the audience about Aboriginal Artefacts each painted with beautiful Aboriginal designs including:

  • the Woomera – a spear thrower used to launch a spear at a greater speed and force than using the human arm – traditionally used by men
  • the Coolamon – traditionally used by Aboriginal women to carry water, fruit, nuts and babies
  • the Bullroarer – what Tracie describes as a ‘bush telephone’, used to communicate over great distances
  • Clap sticks – as the name suggests, the sticks are used by striking one stick on another and used as a musical instrument traditionally accompanied by the didgeridoo

Children and community got to create their own necklaces using faux leather cord by threading it with assorted pieces of wood cuttings.

Larry Brandy amused the room with his storytelling, children gazing in wonder, enthused by his tales. Possum & Wallaby skins went around the room, so everyone got to feel the warmth they provided and giving children an insight into how Aboriginal Australians lived in the past.

Larry explained to the crowd that Aboriginal boys used to remain with their mother until they were 13 and then would join their fathers hunting. The men would use spears to kill animals but the boys, because of their agility and speed would chase the animals and club them in the head. Larry then rounded up the children; the girls put on masks becoming emus while the boys were given clubs and became hunters in a re-enactment of the story.

Larry then described how boomerangs were used to catch ducks. The men would throw boomerangs at the ducks on the water to make them think that it was a predator bird trying to attack, and as they scattered they would use their hand made nets to capture them. Again, Larry got the kids more involved by getting them up and acting it out.

Koomurri provided a cultural experience with a didgeridoo show, storytelling, artefacts, weaponry, Aboriginal song and dance, and Aboriginal face painting with white clay.

To end the day, we ran a “Because of her, we can!” Pamper session as a token of our appreciation and celebration of the significant role that Aboriginal women have played and continue to play in their communities.

We would like to thank Tracie Harris, Larry Brandy, Koomurri, the ladies who provided the pamper session, as well as all our our staff for their hard work and support in this year’s cultural tent. Thank you to all of the community that came along, participated,  shared and celebrated Aboriginal culture with us. Lastly a massive shout out to Trudy Grant, our Aboriginal Community Coordinator who always organises and puts together all the pieces that make up our Cultural tent, it’s “Because of her, we can!”

Aboriginal School Readiness Program

The first 5 years of a child’s life are critical to their lifelong development. Giving your child the opportunity to form vital skills prior to starting school is crucial to their education. When a child does not have access to preschool it can be detrimental to their success at school. Preschool can facilitate growth in a child’s:

  • Physical, motor development and health
  • Social and emotional development
  • Cognitive development
  • Language development

Not only does preschool assist children with learning fundamental skills, preschool can also help to identify any delays with developmental milestones, recognise any learning difficulties and connect children with the appropriate services, making sure that they are not on the back foot when they begin school.

Parents can sometimes be unaware of the important role that preschool or early childhood centres play in a child’s development. This term, Carolyn & Amy from our early childhood team, ran an 8-week Aboriginal School Readiness Program at our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child & Family Centre, aimed at introducing children and parents to school readiness in a culturally safe setting.

During the school readiness program, they focused on growing children’s basic skills such as; listening & language with stories, cognitive & fine motor skills, healthy eating with healthy lunch boxes, making healthy pizza, unwrapping cling wrap, opening packets by themselves, turn taking and sharing with other children.


At the end of the 8 weeks, the children graduated with hats, robes and certificates. Aren’t they totally adorable?

With this program we aim to help close the gap in Aboriginal children accessing preschool or early learning centres and ensuring they have the best chance to excel when they finally begin school.

To speak with our Early Childhood team, contact 02 4729 0442 or

End of girls group makes way for Big Sister Program

In Term 2, girls from Braddock Public School came to the Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre after school to enjoy afternoon tea, engage in games as well as art and craft. The girls completed portraits of themselves, developed their own story books, meditated and made their own bath salts. The group was a safe and enjoyable space for the young girls to work together and develop lasting friendships outside of school.

This term saw the end of our Girls Group however brings new and exciting projects.  NCNS Community Development Worker, Nada said “I have facilitated Girls Group for a year now and it has been an absolute pleasure. I have enjoyed becoming friends with all the young girls, yet I am very eager to see how they respond to the new Big Sister program that will run in Term 3. This is not goodbye to the girls rather I’ll see you at school.”

Nada will be facilitating the Big Sister program in term 3 on Wednesdays during school to support the girls through a life skills program. This program will incorporate concerns that were raised at our Keeping Children Safe workshops, where it was determined that girls in the year before high school faced challenges surrounding their identity, where they fit, and how to navigate changing friendships and relationships. We identified that some of the girls that may benefit from this program may have difficulty accessing activities after school, and so with the support of Braddock Public School, we will run the program at the school during school hours, when we can reach more students.

The Big Sister program aims to develop the girl’s life skills such as exploring relationships/friendships, understanding their feelings and position in families, developing communication skills, understanding who you can trust, and support systems.

This program will be focused on year 6 students, with a more hands on approach, giving girls support, building their resilience and independence.

Trauma Program

Last September, child protection counsellors from Integrated Violence Prevention & Response Services (IVPRS) came out to our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre to run a Talking about Trauma Workshop.

This workshop revealed that we had barely scraped the surface when talking about trauma. We had such a positive response to this workshop from the local community that we then developed a pilot project with IVPRS and started an 8 Week “Talking About Trauma Program” with Aboriginal families, with an extra week in the middle of the program for a pamper day!

The program allowed individuals to explore complex trauma, understand their triggers, promote self-awareness and be supported during this process.

By having this program run at the culturally safe space that is Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre, it allowed participants to be completely open, honest and comfortable sharing their own personal experiences.

We would like to thank Jem Maddox & Jenny Deighton Shapcott (Child Protection Counsellors) from IVPRS for being such amazing facilitators. You were highly skilled, professional, engaging, non-judgemental, and showed genuine empathy during the entire program and have made an impact on those dealing and living with the aftermath of complex trauma.

The ladies were each given a Native Kangaroo Paw Plant as a gift for completing the program. The plant represents their personal growth and progress.

This program is a pathway for us as NCNS workers to link families we are already connected with to long term specialised services.  This is such an important partnership that will continue with plans to run another 9-week Trauma Program in Term 4.

The women who participated have continued supporting each other after completion of the program by sharing contact details to develop their own support group.

If you would like more information about this program please contact us on


Trauma Program Pamper Day

Community create an edible garden

Last Thursday we invited community to help us create an edible garden at our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre, after graciously being donated a garden bed and plants from Bunnings.

Edible Garden

Edible Garden

There were approximately four families who came along and helped build the garden. NCNS Staff were delighted to see families get involved in this project. Families and staff worked well together and enjoyed the day outside in the fresh air. Young children loved being able to get amongst the soil and place the various plants. Young people did an amazing job moving all the soil and installing the irrigation system.

It was so great to see children & young people, along with their families learning about and getting excited about gardening, as well as the different herbs and vegetables that they put into the garden.

Edible Garden Edible Garden

We would like to especially thank Melody from Bunnings who worked alongside us, while educating community and staff about the different vegetables and herbs that were being planted. Our garden now contains broad beans, lettuce, rosemary and blueberry. We look forward to watching our edible garden flourish.

Edible Garden

We have also had interest in our edible garden from people attending our Brekky Club which is exciting.

Thank you to the families who came along and participated in creating the garden. We really enjoyed spending the afternoon doing this together.

Come along to our Cranebrook Community Centre to check it out for yourself!

Cans for breakfast

Would it surprise you to know that 1 in 4 children in Australia skip breakfast?

Some of the impacts of children going to school hungry can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating in the classroom
  • Lethargy
  • Learning difficulties
  • Behavioural problems
  • Student can lose 2 hours a day of learning
  • Impede student’s ability to reach full potential

This year community members, Doris & Renee, have been collecting cans to raise money and are donating the proceeds to our Breakfast Club.

Brekky Club

Over 400 – 500 children attend our Brekky Club each week and with numbers constantly increasing, we are only just keeping up with demand.

Students are provided with cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, ham & cheese toasties and poppers.

Brekky Club

The donation money that Doris & Renee have raised so far has been put towards extra supplies allowing us to provide recess and poppers to children who may otherwise go without.

Brekky Club

Community as well as our own NCNS staff have also been donating goods for kid’s recess. This is amazing and we would like to thank you all for your generous contributions. We always welcome donations, every bit helps feed children in the local area.

One single mum expressed gratitude for her children being able to attend Brekky Club. Struggling with a limited budget, this mum has been able to save $100 week due to not having to buy breakfast foods for her family. That money can now go towards clothes or other school supplies for her children.

We sat down with Doris & Renee to find out what inspired them to collect cans and donate the proceeds to our Brekky Club.

What made you think of collecting cans and donating the profits?

While speaking with a neighbour about the 10¢ cash back on cans, I recalled a conversation I had with Cathy about Brekky Club and recess for the kids.

Why did you choose to donate this money to our Brekky Club?

We have both always wanted to volunteer and were looking for the right organisation to help. As Cathy is a family member, we hear about all the work that she does at Brekky Club as well as the impact that it has on the children and felt that we wanted to help even more

How much money have you raised so far by collecting cans?

So far, since February 2018, we have raised $625

What is your process? Where/who do you get your cans from? Where do you take the cans?

We collect the cans/bottles from family members, friends and work colleagues then we take them to a collection centre near home. We do this twice a week.

How does donating money to help feed kids breakfast impact you on a personal level?

We feel that it is great to be able to help kids in need. Doris was a youth club dance and trampoline instructor and fundraising was a great part of this. It also involved many members of our family who took part as well.

Word of mouth has made our collection bigger and it just keeps growing.

NCNS would like to thank Doris and Renee for all their hard work and generous donations!

Brekky Club is a safe space for children to hang out and fuel their brains for the day ahead.

Brekky Club

Students Caleb, Nicolas, Riley & Blake who regularly attend our Brekky Club wrote this beautiful note and left it on Cathy’s desk.

Brekky Club


This is why we do what we do!

For more information about our Brekky Club or if you would like to donate please contact 02 4729 0442 or email









NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Department of Education, Office of Sport and the Heart Foundation. 2018. Importance of Breakfast. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2018].

Foodbank Australia. 2015. Foodbank finds Aussie school kids missing most important meal. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 May 2018].


NAIDOC Cup Brings School Communities Together

For the 8th year, Nepean Community and Neighbourhood Services (NCNS) will host the NAIDOC Cup for over 1,000 primary school children at Hunter Fields in Emu Plains on Friday, 22 June 2018 from 10.00am to 3.00pm.

The annual NAIDOC Cup event brings together over 1,000 primary school students from more than 20 schools in the Nepean region. 70% of the participants are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Back in 2010, Luke Roseworne attended the first NAIDOC Cup when he was just 11 years old. “It set me on my path. It was a great experience for kids who sometimes get overlooked,” says Luke. “The NAIDOC Cup gives kids an opportunity to express themselves on Darug lands and the whole community gets right behind it.”

Luke is now a full-time Program Manager with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) at Western Sydney University at Kingswood where he mentors Indigenous young people to cross the bridge from high school to university. Luke remains involved with NAIDOC Cup and served as a referee for last year’s games. “A lot of people in our community make this event happen and so do the local primary schools, like Braddock and Kingswood. People have been involved in it for years.”

“If it wasn’t for the women in the community, this event would have never happened,” Luke said.  “The women made sure all the young Indigenous kid’s stories could be heard and expressed through sport.” Luke has also been inspired by Nelson Mandela who said:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

Hunter Fields bustles with activity at the NAIDOC Cup. The school children vie for the Oz-Tag and netball shields in the junior and senior competitions when they are not playing, eating and celebrating and affirming culture and identity. The event is attended and opened by Aboriginal elders and smoking ceremony is held before the sports competitions beginning at 10.30am.

This year’s NAIDOC Cup coincides with NCNS’s 20th year of Aboriginal Service Delivery in the Penrith area. NCNS is a bicultural organisation with strong Aboriginal representation and staffing at all levels of the organisation. NCNS’s provides a range of services, including child and family health, mental health, youth services, health and community services. The organisation is well-known and respected for its innovative, best practice approach.

For more information about the NAIDOC Cup or NCNS services, contact Trudy Grant on mobile 0407 782 766.

Women’s group sew literacy and care bags

Our Make Time Women’s Group are putting their time to great use! So far this year, the group have sewn over 40 bags that have been donated to local schools for literacy bags as well as care bags for women who have fled their home due to domestic violence.

The group consists of local women from Cranebrook who meet once a week to catch up, share stories, skills and it has become an important space for networking.

The bags have been made from donated materials, often from the women’s own homes with very little materials purchased.

The next project for our Women’s group is making chemotherapy bags for patients who have long term medication attached to themselves. Once completed the women will deliver the chemo bags to the oncology unit at Nepean Hospital.

The women always make sure to take time out for a walk, a coffee, and morning tea.  New members and donations are always welcome!

Check under our community development tab for the most current flyer HERE.

Celebrating Neighbourhood Centre’s Week

After a recent foyer upgrade, Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre held an event to celebrate Neighbourhood Centre’s Week.  Neighbourhood Centre’s Week is a nationwide initiative that celebrates the roles of Neighbourhood Centres in the community and this year’s theme was Belonging.

Community members started by meeting our community development workers Monica & Nada at the Cranebrook shopping centre where they were each given a passport.

They were then taken to our Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre, following their passports and collecting stamps at each station of the tour discovering the new and exciting additions to the centre including a new community library, sewing machine and internet access that is available daily for the community to utilise.

On the day, the community had the opportunity to create their own scent bath salts, glitter tattoos, balloons, FREE plants to take away home with them and got to munch on some delicious toasties and muffins.

We even had a  basketball game emerge in our yard with local youth and our youth worker Joe.

The day was a great opportunity to talk and network with our community as well as showcase the new additions to our foyer.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to our centre’s and we encourage you to come along to see what activities and facilities we have available.

Check out our What’s on for all of our centre’s calendars.

Check out our gallery for the day below:

School Holiday Program April 2018

Our school holiday program booked out in no time and was at capacity of 16 young people attending each day, with some new faces joining the crew which was great to see!

The first leg of our school holiday program was at our Youth Week Colour Run & Movie night at Sherringham Oval in Cranebrook, a fantastic day for all involved. The kids had a blast going through the different obstacles while getting covered in colourful dust and listening to music provided by a DJ on the day.

Over the next few days the kids got to attend Flip Out, Laser Tag, Don Bosco Foot Golf, Ryde Pools and finally Luna Park!

A highlight for our youth workers was seeing youth working so well as a team whilst trying to figure out the complex rules of Foot Golf. It was amazing to see our young people so united and focused on a common goal to figure out the rules of a game that they had never done before.

Check out photos below:


Messy Play Day

On Wednesday 18th April we had our Messy Play day which was a hit with all the kids! They got MESSY and had a lot of fun.

We are thrilled that we had 100 plus parents/carers & children/babies turn up for this event!

Parents comment on how involved the children are, and they would never have thought of doing this, and they will try it at home.  Some examples of things parents have said they will go home and try are; making homemade play dough, using bi-carb of soda and vinegar to do simple science experiments, sensory play with flour, coloured rice play and the list goes on.

The great thing about this event is that the benefits become long-term, as ideas are taken into the home environment and used.

We had a parent come to our Messy Play day who stated that she came to some of our other events and was inspired and ran her own messy play birthday party day!

Check out the kids getting messy below:

Youth Week Colour Run & Movie Night

This Tuesday 17th April we had our Youth Week Colour Run and Outdoor Movie night at Sherringham Oval in Cranebrook.

The activities, food, music and all the of the community members, young and old, made for a vibrant, fun day that everyone enjoyed. It was such an awesome day for our community as well as for all our staff.

Some young people did the Colour Run 5 and 6 times! The smiles and laughter were great to see and hear.

It was so awesome to see so many families spending time together

We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from you all and would like to thank you all for coming along and enjoying the day with us.

To all our volunteers and partners, it was great to have you there to support the event. Thank you to Lendlease – Jordan Springs, Barnardos, Platform Youth Services, Break Thru and Penrith City Council for their efforts.
The event would not have been possible with with-out DJ Matt, Airy Fairy Floss, Family Planning, Penrith Tyre Power and L & J Donner

We would also like to thank and acknowledge Cambridge Park Netball, Penrith District Netball Association, Cranebrook Football Club and AFL giants, who all volunteered their time and equipment to provide our kids the opportunity to try some sports.

Gallery below:

Seniors Circuit Training

For Seniors Week Penrith City Council and the Thornton Community Development Program (NCNS & Landcom) invited seniors to try out Thornton’s fitness circuit equipment and do an outdoor gym workout with Denver, an amazing qualified personal trainer from Looking Good & Feeling Great.

After the workout seniors enjoyed a scrumptious morning tea provided by Southern Cross Care followed with an information health and exercise talk, “Healthy Eating for Lifestyle,” presented by nutritionist Rosemary from Fernwood Fitness in Penrith.

We had a great turn out with 17 seniors coming along to try out the equipment, learn about what they can do with it and how they can create delicious healthy food.

Check out the photos below! (Taken by Graham Collins & Monique Desmarchelier)

Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton Seniors Circuit Training Thornton

Aboriginal Early Childhood Developmental Outreach Day

Early intervention screening is a vital service for young children that can help to identify any health, developmental or other problems that may affect their growth, learning and development.

It can be difficult for parents and/or carers to detect when a child may be struggling with hearing, vision, dental or other developmental areas. Children may not be able to communicate their troubles or may not realise that there is a problem.

Once a problem has been detected, children can be linked to specialised services and receive the support they need before they go to school.

With a gap in affordable, easily accessible services that are culturally sensitive for Aboriginal families and children, our experienced Early Childhood team partnered with a number of services to deliver an Aboriginal Early Childhood Developmental Outreach Day providing a dental clinic, as well as hearing, vision and developmental screening last Thursday 22nd March. These developmental outreach days are run twice a year, with the next day to be held Thursday 4th Oct 2018.

With a significant turnout on the day, 15 children accessed the dental clinic and 7 children accessed hearing and/or vision screening. Families had the opportunity to engage with other service providers such as Lifestart and Northcott, as well as being provided with information on immunisation.

There was over 60 parents, carers, educators and children in attendance. Not only did the children access important screening services, the day was also filled with many fun activities including Tumbletown and arts & crafts to keep them busy while they waited for their appointments.

Early Intervention Screening is so important to make sure that our children get the best start possible.

Our Early Childhood team will also be running an 8-week, School Readiness Program for Aboriginal Children going to school in 2019 starting Thursday 10th May.

For more information click here.

Check out photos from the day below:



Links to Partners

The School Dentist 

Ability Links Early Linkers 

StEPS (Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening)



International Women’s Day Event 2018

We celebrated International Women’s day with over 200 exceptional women at an event held at St Marys Memorial Hall on Wednesday 7th March.

The day was an opportunity to get together to celebrate the achievement and recognise the outstanding contribution that women offer in the community and all around the world. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #Press for Progress, outlining the need for recognition of women’s rights and to honour our fight for equality.

The hall was filled with laughter, women chatting and forming friendships. Walan Mahlee, our Aboriginal girls dance group, performed traditional Aboriginal dance for the audience.

Our after-school girls group presented a video to the room that they had created talking about what they would like to be when they grow up. Check out what these awesome girls had to say below!

2018: NCNS celebrates 20 years of Aboriginal Service Delivery

This year NCNS celebrates 20 years of providing Aboriginal Services in the Penrith area. This is a significant milestone and a real celebration of the communities’ courage and advocacy all those year ago.

In the 90’s a number of Aboriginal Organisations closed down resulting in a lack of services and funding for the community. With the loss of these services and with no other Aboriginal organisations that stood out at that time for the community to approach, the community worked together with former NCNS Manager Maree McDermott, to determine the needs of the area, building relationships and trust. In 1998, NCNS got its first funding for two Aboriginal Workers, an Aboriginal family worker and an Aboriginal Youth Worker.

Since that beginning NCNS has built upon our commitment and our reputation, working with the Aboriginal Community to attract further Aboriginal projects to our organisation. 20 years on, this has resulted in a very unique organisation. There are very few organisations with a similar footprint to NCNS.

NCNS is a bicultural organisation with around 40% of our staff and projects being Aboriginal. We have worked very hard to ensure that there is Aboriginal representation at all levels of our organisation and are always working towards improvement in this area.

Over the years we have had so many outstanding Aboriginal workers, many of whom have stayed with NCNS for years and have done exceptional, innovative and best practice work in their communities, particularly in the area of Child & Family Services, Community Development, Casework, Health Services, Mental Health and Youth Services.

As an organisation, we are very proud of the quality and calibre of our workers and that especially includes our Aboriginal staff. We want to acknowledge the many Aboriginal workers who have created that record of great community service and reputation, who have since moved on to further their career in other areas. We also definitely acknowledge those key people who forged the links with the community and developed strong practices and culture within the organisation of mutual and 2-way learning between our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff and teams.

This 20-year anniversary is something we want to celebrate with the community. The community took a great leap of faith in trusting NCNS to provide service delivery and we hope that we have been able to back that up with great quality service over the years.

We are very proud of our record of Closing the Gap in the preparation of Aboriginal children for school. We have significant numbers of children who are now school ready through the interventions of our early childhood and family services. We see ourselves being very effective in that area and we also see ourselves being very effective in the area of Closing the Gap in chronic disease and mortality through the work of the Closing the Gap team and the Community Development team.

We hope to commemorate this 20 year milestone with a series of events that celebrate the community, with stories from children, young people, families and communities who have been NCNS service uses during this time, and the difference that those Aboriginal workers and services providers have been able to make in the lives of those people through providing secure housing, support in the home, early intervention screening, school readiness programs, supported playgroups and Aboriginal cultural and social inclusion programs.

So this year we’ll celebrate the work that has been done by all of the Aboriginal staff over the years and the achievements we’ve made together.

Chinese New Year Celebration: Thornton

Our Chinese New Year celebration was a fantastic festival. We had some amazing food cooked by Hao Chen as well as sharing delicious food brought in by the local community.  Chinese dancers and lion dancers provided spectacular entertainment. A big shout out to our wonderful volunteers Tahura, Riri, Angela, Hathita, Robyn, Bimla, Uttam, Johnny and Planning Committee members – Sophie, Vicky and Phoebe both from Algila RE. Thank you to our Sponsors for provided amazing lucky door prizes – Ha, Yeung & Co, JM Aussie, Raccine, Share, UNIKC Group, HoneyLife, PowerRoll, GlimLife, SolarMan Australia & Algila RE.


10th Anniversary of National Apology Event at Kooly

Today is the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generation and Indigenous people of Australia.

Today we got together with our community at Kooly to reflect on the significance of this apology.

Thank you to everyone who came along today to support one another and share your stories.

We would like to especially thank Uncle Greg for his Welcome to Country, Uncle Wes for performing a smoking ceremony, Walan Mahlee for their performances and John for sharing his story about his experiences of the Stolen Generation.

Below you can find these highlights from the day:

Welcome to Country by Uncle Greg.


Uncle Wes performing a smoking ceremony


Walan Mahlee – Aboriginal boys and girls dance groups performance
Community joining in on the Emu Dance


Guest speaker, John sharing his experiences of being taken from his mother as a child and the impact of this on his life.



Staff and community sharing lunch together.



Read the 10 Year Anniversary of the National Apology blog.


Cultural Awareness Training with Flic Ryan

In 2017 NCNS experienced significant growth with the addition of many new programs including Closing the Gap, Aboriginal Dual Diagnosis and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare.

NCNS is a bi-cultural organisation, with a large number of Aboriginal staff and projects, working closely with Aboriginal communities is a significant part of our work. It is important that our staff are given learning opportunities to gain skills that help them to deliver culturally safe services to Aboriginal people in a respectful way.

Felicity Ryan, a Waddi Waddi woman, is an accredited trainer who specialises in the development and delivery of training around Cultural Competency, Aboriginal Health and Employment, Child Protection and Out of Home Care.

We are thrilled to have Felicity Ryan coming out next week to NCNS once again, to facilitate workshops on Cultural Awareness Training for our new staff, as well as providing a more advanced workshop to staff that have completed her training in the past.

Our staff are really looking forward to completing this training with Flic. This type of training is essential to give our staff the confidence to deliver the best quality services possible to our local community.

Playgroups are back!

St Marys Aboriginal Supported Playgroup

St Marys Playgroup went back on Monday 5th February. The day consisted of art and craft, and story time focusing on the story of the very hungry Caterpillar as well as concentrating on literacy and numeracy skills!

This playgroup runs Mondays 10:00am -12:00pm during school term.

DOWNLOAD the St Marys Aboriginal Supported Playgroup flyer.

Check out photos from their first week back below:

Braddock Playtime Playgroup

This year Braddock Playtime Playgroup has moved to Wednesdays during school term.

The children get to participate in a variety of activities promoting their growth and learning including games,  books, singing, craft, painting, sand play, block corner, home corner and lots more.

DOWNLOAD the Braddock Playtime Playgroup flyer.

Check out photos from their first week back below:


Koolyangarra Aboriginal Supported Playgroup

Kooly Playgroups first week back  was on Friday 9th February. We welcomed back our Kooly families and kicked off the year helping the kids make their own banana muffins.

This playgroup runs on Fridays 10:00am-12:00pm during school term.

DOWNLOAD the Koolyangarra Aboriginal Supported Playgroup Flyer.

Check out photos from their first week back below:


Message from the GM

It is at this time of year that we like to thank all the communities that we work with including services that partner with us, funders, other stakeholders and of course our neighbourhoods and families.

It has been a huge year for NCNS, with a number of new programs. These have included the Functional Family Therapy team working therapeutically with families in the child protection system. This gold standard, evidence based model is a new way of working and it is so exciting to be on the forefront of this work.

I would like to thank our funders and partners at Wentworth Healthcare, the providers of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, as well as our community, for putting their trust in us and supporting our tender for the Closing the Gap project. In May this year we transitioned the amazing Closing the Gap team over from Wentworth Healthcare over to NCNS. We have recruited a whole lot of workers and now have a full team of Clinical Care Coordinators, Aboriginal Health Outreach workers and Health Promotion Workers, working across the region with Aboriginal clients who have chronic and complex diseases. Together we are closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage, particularly aiming to increase life expectancy.

Another new program is Aboriginal Dual Diagnosis. The team are now taking referrals and working across the region from Hawkesbury to Lithgow.  We know many Aboriginal people have fallen through the gaps of the mainstream mental health and drug/alcohol system. This program aims to provide cultural and clinical support to re-engage clients, set realistic goals and achieve better outcomes for people with these complex conditions.

Meanwhile our other projects; Community Development, Child & Family Services, Parenting Programs, Brighter Futures & Youth Hope Casework, Neighbourhood Centres, Chaplaincy, Youth Workers and the rest of the NCNS team have been busier than ever, working with communities in new and different ways, as we evolve our programs.

We went to the next level of collaboration with our friends at Platform Youth Services, embarking on a shared management structure for our Caseworkers bringing together the strengths of both of our organisations. Watch this space for innovative practice development in 2018.

The work we do collectively is not possible without strong partnerships and we are very fortunate to have such amazing colleagues in so many organisations. Thank you to each and every one of you!

Best wishes to all you, we hope that you have a relaxing time with your loved ones over Christmas and New Year. We look forward to seeing you all again in 2018.