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    Aboriginal project wins ZEST award

    2018 - 12.21

    NGALLU Wall’s efforts in building stronger Aboriginal families have paid off.

    The Doonside organisation recently won the ZEST outstanding project award for working with Aboriginal communities.

    The ZEST awards celebrate the importance of a diverse community sector to promote a positive image of western Sydney.

    Ngallu Wall is part of the Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage initiative which aims to halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for children, and ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four-year-olds.

    Ngallu Wall opened in February last year after three years of hard work.

    It is staffed predominantly by Aboriginal workers and run by a community advisory board.

    An elders group meets fortnightly to reads stories to children in the childcare centre.

    Centre manager Leonnie Herczeg stressed the importance of working in partnership and not competing with other services.

    Homelessness, domestic violence, drugs, rehabilitation and school attendance are some of the concerns she handles on a daily basis.

    “The best thing you can do is give someone your time,” she said.

    “Many people here have had a hard life, but they know what works. I want to empower every individual that comes to me by listening, acting and sometimes praying together,” she said.

    There are two consulting rooms available for use by doctors, community nurses, paediatricians and ante and post-natal services.

    Ngallu Wall works with allied services including Blacktown Hospital, Northcott Disability Services, Ability Options and local legal services.

    Also at the centre is the Youth Hope Initiative for ages 9-15 at risk of serious harm, a yarning circle, a Koori Dance Group and women’s collective.

    Day of firsts for new parents and baby

    2018 - 12.21

    Shayleen John with newborn son Isaiah, who was the first baby to be born in NSW on Mother’s Day. Picture: Gene RamirezTHE usual gifts for Mum on Mother’s Day might be a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates or a new set of winter pyjamas.

    But for first-time mum Shayleen John, her present was the best of all.

    Mrs John and her husband Vijay, of Blacktown, welcomed not only their first-born, but the state’s first Mother’s Day baby on Sunday (May 10).

    Mrs John, 27, said she was originally due to give birth on May 4, and had been in the hospital for six days before her son decided to enter the world.

    “He waited until Sunday which happened to fall on Mother’s Day,” Mrs John said.

    The happy new parents said they didn’t mind whether they had a boy or girl, they just wanted to raise a healthy child.

    “We weren’t fussed about the gender, all we wanted was a healthy baby and we were blessed with exactly that,” Mrs John said.

    Proud parents Vijay and Shayleen John with baby Isaiah. Picture: Gene Ramirez

    Mrs John said the couple were so happy and overwhelmed when she gave birth to their son, they hadn’t even realised it was Mother’s Day.

    “We were so caught up in the moment,” Mrs John said.

    “We didn’t take notice of the time and date when he was born until we were told his birth time was 12.05am,” she said.

    The Johns, who met in year 11, named their son Isaiah Aditya John.

    The couple had spoken about baby names long before Mrs John became pregnant.

    “I had discussed the name Aditya to Vijay when we were younger, then years later his grandmother mentioned that his grandfather wanted to name him Aditya,” Mrs John said.

    “We decided it was more than a coincidence so we had to incorporate it into our son’s name.”

    Isaiah is a biblical name meaning the salvation of the Lord.

    Mrs John said giving birth was the best gift she could ever have.

    “My son being brought into the world on Sunday was the best Mother’s Day gift I could ever receive,” she said.

    Isaiah measured 52 centimetres and weighed 3.8 kilograms.

    New MP Mark Taylor makes first speech in parliament

    2018 - 12.21

    Mark Taylor

    NEWLY-ELECTED Seven Hills MP Mark Taylor has told State Parliament he intends to see NSW become “the infrastructure government of our time”.

    Domestic violence, infrastructure and a commitment to community were among the topics closest to Mr Taylor’s heart when he gave his maiden speech in State Parliament on Thursday.

    Mr Taylor named the North West Rail Link and the road projects WestConnex and NorthConnex as highlights of the previous government’s time in office, a vision he says he means to carry on.

    “We have a chance, as a government, to leave an enormous legacy,” Mr Taylor said.

    “In 40, 50 years’ time, my children’s generations of this great state will look at the tenure of Premier Mike Baird’s state government and deem it the era of NSW politics where we expanded the economy and drove economic growth, an era where great things were achieved.”

    A former police prosecutor, Mr Taylor said domestic violence was one of the concerns on which he would take a strong stance during his term.

    “Our justice system must prioritise the victims of crime in a more strident manner,” he said.

    “Having seen first-hand the impact domestic violence has on victims I am extremely proud of the strong stance that the NSW government has taken on the matter.

    “It is often said that some [things] are above politics, and the specific issue of domestic violence, as well as how the justice system responds to victims of crimes, are eminently clear examples of such [matters].”

    Longer hours at shire libraries

    2018 - 12.21

    SUTHERLAND and Cronulla libraries will soon be open longer on weekends.

    Councillor Diedree Steinwall made the call last March to increase Sunday opening hours for Sutherland Library.

    But the council’s lifestyle committee went a step further and recommended longer Saturday opening hours at Cronulla Library.

    The longer hours were expected to be given final approval at the full council meeting on Monday.

    Sutherland Library, which had opened from noon to 4pm on Sundays, is expected to open two hours more, from 11am to 5pm.

    The committee also recommended increasing the 9am to noon opening hours of Cronulla Library by an extra four hours, from 9am to 4pm.

    The cost will be covered by increasing the volunteer overtime roster.

    The total hours of operation of the council’s library services are above the NSW average but there is a high demand for services, particularly for students.

    Cr Steinwall said the extension to library hours was a positive outcome and reflected the increasing needs of the community.

    “The library is increasingly called on to provide a space for quiet study for our tertiary and senior students, especially during those critical times of the year near the trials and the HSC exams,” she said.

    “Libraries are evolving but they still provide one of the most essential of services.

    “Every effort should be made to make sure they cater for all groups in our community.”

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    Easy to criticise

    2018 - 12.21

    Easy to criticise

    Re: the letter “Service fell flat” (Your View, April 30). I thought Michael was very harsh with his reference to the Anzac Day dawn service at Sutherland. I have been attending this dawn service for 20 years and want to commend Jimmy and his colleagues for their dedicated efforts and commitment to honour our fallen servicemen and women since 1949. It’s easy to be a critic these days!

    Steve L, Oyster Bay

    Dear Michael, have you ever: volunteered to play in the band at the dawn service, ever volunteered to sing, ever volunteered to join the St John Ambulance, ever helped the police with crowd control, ever spoken as a child or chaplain about our brave soldiers, ever helped cook or serve breakfast after the service, or most importantly volunteered like our amazing 90-plus hero to fight for his country?

    If not, should you be criticising Sutherland dawn service?

    Helen, Gymea Bay

    I agree with Michael of Loftus — the Sutherland dawn service was an embarrassing disaster.

    The antics of the presenter led to six occasions of crowd laughter; absolutely inappropriate for such a solemn event.

    Not only was it an affront to the memory of the sacrifice of the fallen, it was a terrible example to the many children and teenagers in the crowd. Hopefully, the presenter next year will have a more apt spirit of occasion.

    Robert, Sutherland

    My wife and I attended a dawn service with our son and grandsons to honour the fallen Australians and the families they left behind.

    We could not hear a great deal as we were at the back of a very large crowd, but unlike the critics, this did not impact upon our feelings or emotions.

    We don’t go to listen to speeches, we go to honour and remember those brave young men and women who fought so that we might live in our great country.

    We came away from the service proud of the young men and women while silently reflecting on their sacrifice.

    Michael, perhaps you should contact the Anzac Day committee at Sutherland and offer your assistance next year?

    Ian, Engadine

    Re: Bob Richard’s “Dawn disappointment” and Michael’s “Service fell flat”. What the Sutherland dawn service lacked in spit and polish it made up for with warmth and charm and a real country-town feel.

    Jim McIntyre was very endearing and did a sterling job as MC. All contributing speakers were good, and a special mention goes to the seniors from Jannali High.

    John Gunn, Jannali

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