Latest News

NSW Volunteer Team of the Year award for South Western Sydney/Macarthur

POSTED: 20th January 2022

Huge congratulations to FOCUS Connect Staff members Sana Al-Ahmar and Nafiza Buksh for being a part of the Camden Council Cohesive Communities Advisory Group that was recognized for their exceptional

Focus Connect staff members, Sana Al Ahmar and Nafiza Buksh are a part of Camden Council's Cohesive Communities Advisory Group, who was this week recognised for their exceptional work in the community, taking out the NSW Volunteer Team of the Year award for South Western Sydney/Macarthur. The group was formed as part of Council’s commitment to inclusive communities and includes a number of residents from diverse backgrounds, cultures and religions who work cohesively to deliver multi-layered initiatives to build positive and inclusive communities.


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Volunteer of the year certificate
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Annual Report 2021

POSTED: 27th January 2022

FOCUS Connect Annual Report 2021 is now available online


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Help to Live Your Best Life

POSTED: 13th May 2021 SOURCE: Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser 12th May 2021

After 35 years of supporting members of the Macarthur community, Focus Connect is now expanding to the rest of metropolitan Sydney.

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SBS Arabic Radio - Macarthur Multicultural & Aborginal Women’s Coffee Club

POSTED: 22nd April 2021 SOURCE: SBS Arabic Radio 22nd April 2021

Sana Al-Ahmar discussses the launch of a new program assisting women address domestic violence, and maintaining their security and safety outside the home.

(This content & audio is copyright to SBS)

Program: SBS Arabic Radio Interviewer: Manal Al-Ani & Iman Riman Interviewee: Sana Al-Ahmar Duration: 9:51


Macarthur Textile Network Exhibition: Looking Forward, Looking Back

POSTED: 29th March 2021

A collaborative textile exchange project undertaken with women from Focus Connect's Multicultural Women’s Art Group.

Saturday 27 March – Sunday 9 May 2021

Last year, the Macarthur Textile Network (MTN) celebrated their 10th anniversary. This year they present their fourth and largest biennial exhibition at Campbelltown Arts Centre.

Looking Back, Looking Forward features new contemporary textile works by MTN artists that consider how the past impacts them, how it informs their view of the future, and how it influences and informs their work.


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Sanas art work
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Brighter Future Ahead

POSTED: 10th August 2020 SOURCE: Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser 05th August 2020

Migrant women across Western Sydney are taking advantage of fee-free TAFE courses to help them settle into the community and learn some new skills.

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Good News Story: from Focus Connect HIPPY Program

POSTED: 12th February 2020

Ann Tibbles, Focus Connects HIPPY Program Coordinator, shares some beautiful and heartfelt feedback.

As told by Barunaya Shnan, HIPPY Tutor at Focus Connect, about one of her 2019 HIPPY graduates. 

Thomas was so excited about the graduation ceremony last night (09/12/2019). He recalled the magician and laughed when he remembered his silly mistakes.

He had all his HIPPY books on the floor and we found his favourites. He liked the experiments and making things he said.

When we reviewed Thomas's portfolio his Mum was crying. She said she was so emotional about the last day of the program. Mum talked about the great support she and her family got from the HIPPY program and staff.

This family has really benefited from doing HIPPY. They said they felt less isoloted, had improved their English skills and were confident that Thomas was now more than ready for school. Through the HIPPY program they learnt that all their children are different, learn at their own pace and in the their own unique manner - and this is to be celebrated. 

Feedback from Thomas's teacher is that he has settled into school very well and is a confident and keen learner.

Focus Connect’s HIPPY Program (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) is a two year home-based learning and parenting program for families with young children who live in the Campbelltown area . To find our more visit HIPPY Australia.


SBS Arabic Radio Interview - Empowering Women Program

POSTED: 11th February 2020 SOURCE: SBS Arabic Radio 05th February 2020

Sana Al-Ahmar discussses Focus Connects services and programs, including the Butterfly Program.

(This audio is copyright to SBS)

Program: SBS Arabic Radio Interviewer: Manal Al - Ani Interviewee: Sana Al-Ahmar Duration: 6:57

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Chinese Aged Social Support Group Celebrates Chinese New Year

POSTED: 29th January 2020

Saturday, 25 January 2020 - Year of the Rat.

Chinese New Year is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is based on a mythical beast, Nian. The people used the colour red and firecrackers to scare away the beast. Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. The festival was traditionally a time to honour deities as well as ancestors.

It is traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house. Deep cleaning your home before Chinese New Year is important for two reasons: relatives are coming, but also it’s believed to cleanse the home of all the previous year’s negative energy.

It is tradition to use red coloured paper-cuts outs on windows and doors that symbolize longevity, wealth, happiness, and good fortune. The most popular character is the word “fortune” [福].

Children, colleagues and family receive ornate envelopes with various amounts of money from parents, grandparents, and customers respectively, along with blessings and grand wishes of a prosperous and healthy New Year. The amount is traditionally an even number, not divisible by four since it symbolizes death.

It’s believed that all outstanding bills owed to friends and family should be paid before the Chinese New Year, so debt is not carried over into the New Year.

Chinese believe that crying on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year will result in sad times for the remainder of the year. It is also poor form to start the New Year by swearing, getting upset or losing your cool.

On the last day of Chinese New Year, called Lantern Day, everyone walks along the street carrying paper lanterns. This is supposed to light the way for the New Year. The highlight of the Lantern Festival is the Dragon Dance. Beautiful dragons made of paper, silk and bamboo are held overhead, and appear to dance as they make their way along the parade routes.

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner

Chinese families gather for the annual reunion dinner. Chinese New Year food is a key ingredient to the most important holiday of the year. The food is at the center of celebrations bringing family together to exchange gifts, reminisce and look forward to the New Year. Eating the right food could mean prosperity in the New Year, while the wrong food could misfortune. Most traditional Chinese New Year foods is served because their name sounds like another word meaning happiness, wealth or good fortune. Other foods are chosen because they resemble gold or money.

Whole Fish (abundance, prosperity)
The Chinese word for fish sounds like the Chinese word for “surplus.” Fish is typically served whole at the end of the meal as a sign of surplus at the end of the year. The surplus is seen as an important factor to making more next year.

Broccoli or Cauliflower (riches)
Broccoli or cauliflower dishes are served because of the stalks. Each stalk symbolizes a blossoming new year.

Noodles (longevity)
The length of noodles represent longevity, but don’t cut them or you will be cutting your life short.

Shrimp – Happiness
In Chinese, the word for “shrimp” is pronounced “ha.” Because it sounds like laughter, shrimp is served symbolizing a happy year ahead.

Jiaozi or Chinese dumplings – prosperity
Chinese dumplings are classic Chinese New Year food, typically enjoyed on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Oranges/tangerines – wealth
Oranges are a popular symbol of good luck because of the similarity of the words “orange” and “luck” in Chinese. They are also a great gift for the host if you are attending a Chinese New Year’s dinner.

Spring Rolls – wealth
Spring rolls’ are Chinese New Year food for wealth. Their cylindrical shape resembles gold bars.

Sweets – sweet life in the New Year
A popular Chinese New Year sweet is the Glutinous Rice Cake (“Nian gao” in Chinese). The sweetness of the cake symbolizes a sweet, rich life. The cake’s layers symbolize abundance in the New Year.

Submitted by Cecilia Vera, Aged Care Services Manager


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Helping to Make Connections

POSTED: 11th December 2019 SOURCE: Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser 04th December 2019

Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative may have changed it's name to FOCUS Connect but it is still the same organisation that has been supporting Macarthur's local community for more than 35 years.

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