30 November 2017
Wow, what a week! I have just returned from Orlando, Florida, where I participated in the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Annual Conference. I joined over 1,300 participants for five days of powerful, evidence-based research workshops and seminars that focused on the theme of “Families as Catalysts: Shaping Neurons, Neighborhoods and Nations”. The hardest part was selecting which of the more than 50-per-day sessions to attend. Some of the sessions that I found particularly interesting were Strengths-based Leadership, Innovative Research & Intervention, Advancing Family Science, Changes in the Family System: Parent Absence and Blended Families, Home Visits and Home Visitors: An Effective Tool fro Family Support, Cutting Edge Topics in Family Therapy, Social Media is Changing Family Interactions and Toxic Stress in Contemporary Families: Getting from Adversity to Capacity.
The NCFR is the largest peak body for Family Science in the US. They produce three academic journals which feature the latest research and findings across a wide range of topics. I was in awe of the enthusiasm, qualification levels, expertise and commitment of the facilitators. Whilst the term “Family Science” is not widely used here, its tenets align with our Family Studies units.
I am inspired and excited about bringing some of the ideas and new knowledge that I acquired during this international event to inform LEAD Professional Development workshops, conferences and seminars. Stay tuned for more!
4 July, 2017
Yesterday I had the privilege, along with some of my Team, to participate in Blacktown City Council’s (BCC) NAIDOC Week Event. FWT+DP has a long history of proactively supporting NAIDOC Week. This year we partnered with BCC to assist with their large scale event, held at Blacktown Showground. We were able to secure some funding through the NSW Department of Education and Aboriginal Affairs which enabled us to provide morning and afternoon tea while we looked after visitors to the Elder’s Tent.
We were lucky to have perfect weather for a winter’s day; plenty of blue sky and sunshine. Our guests enjoyed being able to get a cuppa and some delicious goodies, including some made with natural bush ingredients, such as wattleseed, yam, lilly pilly and limes.
NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week provides a platform to promote awareness, recognition and an understanding of the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians.
The 2017 theme – Our Languages Matter – aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in both cultural identity, linking people to their land and water, and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song. We know that many place names for our suburbs, rivers, mountains and parks are Indigenous language words. Noticing and paying attention to these words will generate greater a generate greater appreciation and respect for the significance of language among all Australians.
National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair Anne Martin said that the “preservation and revitalisation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages – the original languages of this nation – is the preservation of priceless treasure, not just for Indigenous peoples, but for everyone.” It was fantastic to hear so many young (and deadly) voices on the stage yesterday singing with pride, in their traditional language.
FWT+DP is committed to incorporate strategies, including delivering on our RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) that address fairness, justice and equality. It is our aim that the perspectives and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will become an integral part of everyday business of our organisation and that of all family and community services across Western Sydney. In bringing this vision to life we are joining the growing number of Australians who seek to bring lasting positive change, equity and healing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this and future generations.
22 May, 2017
As the CEO of a small not-for-profit organisation I get to wear many hats; juggling marketing, governance, HR, strategic planning……and that’s just before lunch!
One of the perks of the role is getting to meet totally amazing and awesome people, like Vikki Reynolds. Vikki joined us last week and gave three hugely popular and insightful workshops in Parramatta and Katoomba. The feedback from participants of these workshops (Looking at the Darkness in our Work, Understanding Our Responses to Loss and Hardships from a Place of Dignity and Hope, Trauma and Resistance: Witnessing Social Injustice and Violence and Resistance: Working Together to Transform the Culture of Violence and Rape) has been overwhelmingly positive. Vikki’s unique lived life, combined with her academic background (she has a PhD and is an Adjunct Professor in her home county of Canada), topped off with her engaging personality ensures that all of her workshops resonant, inform, educate and challenge each participant.
On the weekend I got to be Vikki’s unofficial Tour Guide, as we went on a bush walk at Scenic World (Katoomba), then to Flat Rock (Wentworth Falls), followed by lunch in Glenbrook and finishing the day at Darling Harbour. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be in her company for the day, and to show off our spectacular Blue Mountains and our harbour-side capital.
If you are like me, and want MORE of Vikki’s workshops, then stay tuned. We have already started planning her next visit for 2018!
15 Mar, 2017
March 16 is “National Close The Gap Day”.
Last year, more than 150,000 people took part in 1596 separate National Close the Gap Day events across the country.
The aim? To bring people together, to share information — and most importantly — to take meaningful action in support of achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.
The inadequacy in infrastructure and service delivery to Indigenous people is now extreme; but the strong and sustained public support for action has put Indigenous health equality on the agenda of State and Federal Governments.
With help, we can keep it there. The movement to Close the Gap now needs to maintain, and grow, to ensure sustained and meaningful long-term change; and most importantly, an end to the Indigenous health crisis.
FWT+DP hosted a morning tea today as our way of supporting Indigenous health equality. Staff and guests enjoyed a range of food from Indigearth, who are award winning innovators of modern Australian native products. We enjoyed Lemon Myrtle tea, Outback Anzac Cookies, Lemon Myrtle and Wattleseed Cream Bikkies, Wild Rosella Jam, Rainforest Plum Sweet Chili Sauce and Saltbush Dukkah.
We signed the “Close The Gap Pledge” and donations were accepted and will be forwarded to the Oxfam Close The Gap Appeal. All donors received a Lucky Door Prize ticket for a chance to win an Indigearth Hamper. Congratulations to Rebecca from Easy-Go Connect who was the lucky winner.
More importantly, we had some great dialogue around Indigenous health inequality, using the paper ‘chatterbox quiz’ to prompt our thoughts.
Our “Close The Gap” morning tea is one of the many activities we facilitate to support our Reconciliation Action Plan.
For more information on other “Close The Gap” events visit:
12 Feb, 2017
How hot is it here?
Whew! Yesterday was the hottest day ever recorded out at Penrith, near where I live in the western suburbs of Sydney. The absolutely hottest day on record peaked at 46.9° Celsisus. (that’s 116° Fahrenheit).
Hit rewind to this time three years ago and I was working in Milwaukee during a ‘polar vortex’ (the opposite to our heat-wave), trying to make my way through thigh-high snow drifts and temperatures down to minus 26°C (a chilly – 15°F).
What struck me about these extreme temperatures that I experienced was the reminder that Mother Nature still has this amazing power over our lives. We may think that we live in this fast paced, digital, computerised, global world that we are in control of, but of course, the reality is far from that.
These days of extreme weather conditions – whether you believe in global warming or not – are reminders of how insignificant we humans are. Regardless of what was happening locally, nationally or globally, the number one topic being discussed everywhere in Sydney yesterday was the weather. Mother nature was reminding us of her power.
Of course, surviving extreme weather conditions like this comes down to planning and preparation, and taking heed of the warnings those with that expert knowledge shared with us. This is a lesson we can apply to our lives each and every day, regardless of the weather.
Make sure we are prepared and have done our planning. Take note of the experts. We can apply this to our financial affairs, our career plans, our relationships and our health.
Perhaps by applying these lessons from Mother Nature, we can ensure the year ahead will be our best ever.
Stay cool, or keep warm; wherever you are today, and have a great 2017!
Kerry Palejs –