Bee Cruse
Taste Tour of Lakemba
Sara Mansour - Bankstown Poetry Slam

Usman Iftikhar – Catalysr

Usman Iftikhar

Not that many years ago, Usman Iftikhar migrated to Australia, completed his Masters in Engineering Management, graduating with honours. Despite a double degree and plenty of experience in his field, he was unable to find meaningful work and his dream of a better life started to fade with every can he stacked on a supermarket shelf.

With nothing to lose other than a string of unfulfilling casual jobs, Usman decided he needed to change tactic and create his own employment. He signed on to take part in an social enterprise incubator that saw the birth of Catalysr; a business that supports migrants and refugees to start their own business and gives them the tools to get it done. Not only has it changed Usmans path, it has now changed the path for a group of Migrapreneurs who are going on to create change and contribute to society in ways they never even considered before beginning their migrant journey to Australia.  

Last month Usman was awarded Commonwealth Young Person of the Year presented to him by everyone’s favourite prince, Harry. Usman recently chatted with The Westies about how starting a business that helps others has helped himself the most.

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Maya Brasnovic – Made:Here

Made:Here Liverpool

Visiting Liverpool you could easily think the main parts of the city are Westfield and Liverpool Mall, however the locals know it’s the lively lanes that connect the city from North to South where real life is being lived. Each lane has its own personality from music schools, to wedding planners, barbers and seamstresses. If you want to truly experience Liverpool, ducking down a laneway is the way to do it.

Identifying an opportunity to encourage a creative retail hub at the south end of the CBD, Liverpool Council has recently launched The Liverpool Pop Up campaign offering vacant shop fronts in Northumberland Street Arcade to start-ups, social enterprises, community groups or artists to set up a temporary retail shop.

The Westies chatted with Maya Brasnovic who has set up her shop Made:Here selling art and design pieces created by local artists, designers, crafters and makers about her inspiration for opening the shop and where she hopes it will lead.  Continue Reading

Joyce Fu – People Just Like Us

People Just Like Us

I normally avoid people trying to talk to me on the street usually they are trying to sell something; or make me feel guilty enough about something that I sign up to a have an amount deducted from my bank account each month to make that guilt disappear.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in Parramatta’s Centenary Square with a little bit of time to kill, so thought I would have a chat with the woman standing in front of a sign reading Welcome Asylum Seekers, People Just Like Us. I steadied myself for the conversation which I was sure was going to end with me leaving my (accidentally misspelt) email address and making up an appointment that I really had to get to, however things went a little differently than I had expected. The woman I chatted to was Joyce Fu who was very inviting with a lovely smile. She didn’t have a well scripted story to tell me, just a warm invitation to learn more about her advocacy group People Just Like Us, who try to address the crisis of cruelty faced by people seeking asylum in Australia. The group, along with wanting the government to take action on its refugee policy, aims for Australians to see that asylum seekers and refugees are people. Just like us.  Continue Reading

Peter Curnovic – Beatdisc Records

Beatdisc

Surviving as a small business is tough. Surviving as an independent record store is close to impossible. Running that business for over twenty three years is nothing short of a miracle.

Peter Curnovic has been working at Beatdisc Records for over twenty three years and has just celebrated 10 years as owner. When you consider more than 60% of small businesses shut their doors within three years of opening and 80% in the first five, then add into the mix that Beatdisc Records is located in an area with no dedicated live music venues in an arcade that you are likely to never stumble across without some good directions, as far a statistics go you have a bit of a problem on your hands .

Chatting with Pete, it became clear that his passion for music and community are the well laid foundations that have kept him in a business that not only survives but thrives. Beatdisc is an institution that deserves to be celebrated at every turn. First, read the interview, then pay yourself a visit to the shop in Parramatta – directions are below. This is one well kept secret that we need to start shouting from the rooftops.  

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Africultures Festival 2018

March 10th 2018 marked the 10th year of Africultures Festival, a celebration of African culture in Australia. The festival was established to celebrate all things Africa, from sport (the Africultures cup was taken out by Ghana this year), to fashion, food and music. This huge one day event brings the best of Africa to Western Sydney, served up with a side of Australian flavour.  Continue Reading

Rachael Belle Myers and Matt Vella – The Western Sydney Filmmakers Hangout

Western Sydney Filmmakers

Rachael Belle Myers and Matt Vella have a few things in common, they are both award winning filmmakers, they both live in Western Sydney and their other commonality – loneliness and isolation in their chosen profession of filmmaking. After meeting at an awards ceremony they decided it was time to do something about it and so The Western Sydney Filmmakers Hangout was founded. We chatted about how it got started, their shared passion for storytelling and staying in Western Sydney.   Continue Reading

Steve Hodgson – The Dad’s Cooperative Project

Men. They get a bit of a bad wrap –  we expect the world from them, be tough, know it all and most importantly show as little emotion as possible. Thankfully times are changing and Dads are no longer seen as sidekicks in the parenting game, but equals.

Thankfully, most men are wonderful human beings who are trying to work out this world and want to be part of their kids lives in a meaningful way, navigating the role of being a Dad as best they can with very little resources, a lack of information and few places to turn to.

After becoming a Dad for the second time, Steve Hodgson decided to start The Dad’s Cooperative Project and create a place for Dad’s to get together with their kids and spend some time swapping experiences, trade stories and support each other to thrive as role models and fathers. The Dad’s Cooperative Project is a wonderful initiative with Parramatta Council supporting this vital group, we were super happy to see this group starting in the West and would love to see it spread across the country.

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Winnie Dunn – Sweatshop

Literacy is largely equated with simple reading and writing skills, however it goes far beyond that. Literacy is not just about reading stories, it is learning to write our own and express our experiences through words. It also develops critical thinking – a vitally important skill in helping us examine our environment and place in it.

Sweatshop is leading the way in providing opportunities to enhance and develop literacy in Western Sydney, providing skills, training and support for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, empowering them to find their own story and express it, enabling individuals and groups to have a say in their own stories – instead of being spoken about.   

Sweatshop has just announced a new project launching next month, the first ever Western Sydney Literacy Initiative for Diverse Women. Ahead of its launch we spoke with program manager Winnie Dunn about the program and the role literacy has played in her life, growing up in Western Sydney as a woman of colour.

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Top five interviews of 2017

Top 5 2017

 

 

Happy 2018! We hope your New Year has got off to a great start. The Westies had a wonderful 2017 interviewing 26 talented, diverse, wonderful Westies. In July we launched The Westies Markets – Emu Plains which grew from 53 to 66 stall holders and saw an average of 1500 people through the gates. 2018 will bring more interviews, the markets will be back in March and we will be launching a couple of new events. For now we thought it would be great to take a look back at the 5 most read interviews of 2017, taking a quick glance back before we spring into 2018!

 

 

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Julie Owens – Member for Parramatta

Julie Owens Same Sex

The right for same sex couples to marry passed in the senate last week and from January 9th it will be legal for all couples to wed. It’s taken a lot of arguments and completely avoidable hurt to get there. The Australian public were asked and returned a national decision of YES with 61.6% voting in favour of marriage equality.

However, when the results were broken down the majority of NO votes came from Western Sydney – which is simply no surprise whatsoever.  The result reflects what we already know – that many people who live in this area have strong religious beliefs, which include marriage being only between a man and a woman. While that is not the opinion of all people in Western Sydney, here it does reflect the majority.

A few days before the bill passed through parliament we spoke with Julie Owens, Member for Parramatta – who although her electorate returned a majority NO vote, chose to vote YES. Read on to find out why. 
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