Successful multicultural festival caps “family matters” project

Susan Vogels of SydWest and Robert Dicker Lee President of Hills Community Aid (HCA)

Baulkham Hills, 7 December 2011 — SydWest Multicultural Services, Inc (SydWest) successfully hosted yesterday a multicultural festival as its end of year celebrations to mark its final “Family Matters” project. It was held at the Hillsong Convention Centre at Baulkham Hills in Sydney’s northwest.

It provided much-needed help to young mothers, families and other members of the community with some free time offering free child care services while they share valuable information and training on food and nutrition, healthy practices and exercises regimen, among others, for around 70 or more families in the Northwest local government area. SydWest partnered with the following: Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), New South Wales Education and Training, Rouse Hill families Connect/Wesley Mission, The Hills Holroyd Parramatta Migrant Resource Centre(THHPMRC) , The Hills Shire Council and the Hills Community Aid.


The latter’s President Robert Dicker Lee and SydWest Centre Manager Susan Vogels served as the judges for the multicultural exhibits where participants shared their culture and traditions through colourful displays and informative materials. The winning display was from the Korean group and runners up were those from those who represented India and Ukraine.

Apart from the welcome address by Ms. Vogels where she thanked all the organisers and staff of those agencies involved, the program of activities during the event included: laughter workshop, dance performances from the Koreans, Spanish/Peruvian group, physical activities which this writer participated in as well as it involved easy exercises that can be done especially at home to reduce stress and help promote a healthy lifestyle. There were also an Indian dance, a colourful fashion parade showcasing the various costumes of groups represented – those from Austria, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Peru/Spain, and Ukraine.

Aurelia Rahman, Capacity Biilding Coordinator

Participants and organisers at the SydWest Multicultural festival to mark end of "fanily matters" sessions

Some participants in their colourful costumes pose with AK

from THHPMRC was also on hand to assist event emcee Geodhini Sivaraj, in presenting each attendee a Certificate of Participation. Some gifts were also given to the kids and groups for their efforts the whole year round.

The most amazing finale was the lunch and food tastings which showcased a wonderful buffet spread of different dishes and foods brought in and prepared by the mothers and their families and by the organisers and their friends. There were round half a dozen noodle & rice dishes, smoked German sausages in little toothpicks (which this writer happily gobbled up), desserts like apple strudel, rice cakes/puto from the Philippines and many more foodstuffs were enjoyed by everyone, young and old alike. It was a challenge trying to taste some of the more spicy dishes but it was an event of discovery and learning for all, organisers and participants alike!

Day care for around 30 children was provided free of charge and the child care workers did a very good job keeping the little ones entertained.

In a short interview with this writer while doing some of the physical exercises, Andrew from West Pennant Hills, a 51 year old father of two year old Poppy said he baked the sour dough bread to show his Austrian heritage. Later during the tastings, I found out, it tasted really good, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. He said, “It is a good way to show community spirit as well as give my wife some time off for herself.

Navneet Kaue, a 28 year old young mum from Woodcroft said she came upon the insistence of her cousin Parminder who has been attending the mother sessions for about a year. She told us she “gained more confidence, got to know more people and became more independent as a result of her sessions.

Christian, an Australian shared some German sausages which were popular in the lunch and said he got them from a very good Butchery in Smithfield that specialises in German sausages.

It was a great conclusion to a year long informative sessions designed to assist families in the Northwest area of Sydney. A big thumbs up to the Sydwest organisers and their staff especially their partner agencies for a wonderful celebration of multiculturalism!

This writer and Ang Kalatas Publisher Millie Phillips covered the event upon the invitation of Ms Rose Leona, SydWest Project Officer for Families NSW Early Intervention. Only four people including the AK team represented the Philippines, among them, young mum of one Jiji Grosseibl who is also a co-worker of Ms. Leona at the Anglicare Nursing Home in Castle Hill. She cooked the Filipino noodles called “pancit” which were praised by many in the event.

“SydWest is a non-profit community association which provides practical assistance and services for the relief of poverty, distress and misfortune to disadvantaged and marginalized people in the Western Sydney Area” as described in its website.

It also assists and supports refugees, humanitarian entrants and migrants in their settlement in testing times as well as old people and those with disabilities, according to Ms. Leona.

You can contact them at :SydWest Multicultural Services Inc PO Box 869, Blacktown NSW 2148 Level 2,125 Main Street, Blacktown NSW 2148 Phone: (02) 9621 6633 Fax: (02) 9831 5625 E-mail: Web:


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