Westies at Work Archives - The Westies

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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Lauren LaRouge – Nail Artist

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“Do what you love!” A sentence that is thrown around more than a cricket ball at a test match, however living in one of the world’s most expensive cities can mean having to take a job that you love less and despise more. Getting stuck in an office with grey walls, slogging away with zero creative inspiration led Lauren LaRouge to get creative and start bringing some colour to that drab office using her nails as tiny canvases. She has now managed to nail doing what she loves, literally. No longer confined to a boring office Lauren spends her days creating handfuls of artworks, taking nail art up a notch or ten.  

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Emma Bailie – That Chocolate

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Poverty and chocolate not two things you would normally associate with each other, with one being a chronic global disease and the other being a luxury item. But in the case of That Chocolate, they come together for the greater good, thanks to great vision from founder Emma Bailie.

After spending time volunteering in the Philippines and seeing first hand the devastation caused by natural disasters which not only destroys homes but leads to a cycle of poverty, hunger and addiction. Emma decided she wanted to do something to help and not just in a time of crisis, which is why she has developed a business model that uses chocolate to fund food relief in the Philippines and removes the guilt from eating the world’s favourite food.

We chatted with Emma about how her business came to fruition and how YOU can be part of stopping world hunger just by eating a bar of chocolate.  Continue Reading

Mark Geyer

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One of the most overused and damaging  narratives about Western Sydney is the “You’ve come a long way, you’ve do well to get yourself out of there”. Success often means leaving the West and dropping any association with it as quickly as your ex-boyfriend. The most effective way to prove our worth is to get out, move away and join in the finger-pointing at those people who live “out there.” None of us chose where we were born, some of us just make the best of it and it’s actually pretty bloody good. Footy legend, breakfast radio host and all round great guy Mark Geyer is one man who proves that success can come because of growing up in Western Sydney, not in spite of it.   Continue Reading

Fusion Cafe – St Mary’s

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Social Enterprise – what is it? Basically it’s a business that does good and gives back. At it’s core the business is about more than cash money, it’s a business that has an investment in something greater: people, communities, the environment. We’ve highlighted some of our favourites on the blog before, and we are all about the idea.

Fusion Western Sydney is an organisation who work with youth and operate a Cafe in St Mary’s which is a great example of what a social enterprise is – the beautiful cafe with a minimal style that’s all about maximising connections in the community through quality coffee and giving skills to the younger ones amongst us. It’s a simple premise that contributes to the building of resilient young people, stronger families and safer communities.

We chatted with Fusion Youth Worker and Manager James and Barister Chris about the cafe that serves up community, connection and caffeine. 

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Lesley Unsworth – Taste Cultural Food Tours

 

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Lesley Unsworth left her Northern England home for a holiday in Australia in 1981 and simply never returned home. After many years working in community building in Bonnyrigg – which she claims as her spiritual home, she now runs Taste Cultural Food Tours, one of the best ways to experience Western Sydney by discovering new suburbs through the most simple of life’s pleasures: food. Taste is no ordinary tour company – the guides pride themselves on their extensive local knowledge and connections with shop owners that will get to a behind the scenes look at some of Sydney’s most vibrant communities. Taste is not only a tour company, as a social enterprise they provide training for newly arrived Australians, refugees and youth, giving them a pathway into work in Australia . By providing them with a chance to build their confidence and skills in tour guiding, they learn skills that are transferable to many parts of their lives. I sat down with Lesley over a (few) plate(s) of food to chat about how she became involved in Taste and her affinity for Western Sydney.  Continue Reading

Kon Gouriotis – It’s Our Thing: More History on Australian Hip-Hop (Part II)

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Blacktown Arts Centre has a great exhibition running at the moment – It’s Our Thing: More History on Australian Hip-Hop (Part II). The exhibition showcases 14 artists and the explosion of hip-hop culture in Blacktown during the 1990s, along with its impact on current artistic practices, with works to be found both inside and outside of the centre. We chatted with one of the shows curators, Kon Gouriotis – a Western Sydney native, born in Fairfield and now living in Casula. Kon has an impressive resume with 13 years as director and curator at Casula Power House, before moving on to be ‘Director – Visual Arts’ at Australia Council for the Arts; and then a short stint as Director of Australia Centre for Photography. He edits and writes for Arts Profile and while I could go on, all you really need to know is that he is a great guy and absolute champion for the Arts. We chatted about the beginning of his career and how a project in Blacktown has led him to be on of the most respected names in the Australian art world.  Continue Reading

Toufick Chami – Meraki Merchants

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Meraki Merchants cafe has quickly become a favourite of The Westies, serving up Parramatta’s best coffee – yep, we called it-  and good quality simple food that never disappoints. Owner, cook and barista Toufick Chami is constantly experimenting and developing new additions to the menu, proving space is not something you need to make a delicious meal. In this small cafe a strong sense of wonder, a cup of ambition and a serving of friendly hospitality are the ingredients that make for a great cafe experience – that and the cakes (home baked by Toufick’s mum – YUM!)  Continue Reading

Natalie Anne

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One of Australia’s best hairstylists – Natalie Anne has strong Western Sydney roots growing up in Punchbowl before moving to Moorebank and now living in Croydon where she can walk to work at her beautiful salon, where she employs 13 staff.  We chatted about leaving school at a young age, working for free and where she see’s herself, five years from now.  Continue Reading

Danny Elacci

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After following the conventional (read safe) path of going to uni, getting a degree and then starting his own business in security, Danny Elacci decided it was time to follow is real passion. Acting – which had been something that attracted him since he was in school and after seeing a friend perform on stage – he changed direction and headed down the acting path with a bag of determination and healthy dose of life experience. With a short film that has just been screened at Cannes, a couple of feature international films in the works and most recently playing the role of Ali in Urban Theatre projects Home Country, Danny may have started later then some but is coming out leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.  Continue Reading