August 2021

RUOK? Glow-in-the-dark succulent terrariums
Resilience helps us cope with the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic

International Youth Day

Greater Sydney is into its 6th week of LOCKDOWN. I almost lost count of the days of the week. It is lucky that Internet does not lock itself down. I can still ‘Goggle’ and found the story behind the International YOUTH DAY’. It was first celebrated on August 12, 2000, and ever since the day has been used to educate society, mobilize the youth in politics, and manage resources to address global problems. The theme for 2021 is “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, with the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people. Other crucial challenges must also be addressed, such as the interlinkages embodied by the 2030 Agenda including poverty reduction; social inclusion; health care; biodiversity conservation; and climate change mitigation.

If COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown is to be lifted soon, CFS in collaboration with Balgowlah Scouts will host a ‘Climate Action Art Exhibition’ at the Balgowlah Stockland Shopping Centre on 30th and 31st October (Sat & Sun). CFS is always looking for partners to co-host ‘Climate Action Mixed-Media Art’ Workshops. If your organisation is interested, please contact us via email:


Flower of the Month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


The beautiful dainty yellow flowers of Wattles can be seen everywhere: in the bush, on the roadside and at my neighbour’s garden. Do you know the ‘Golden’ blooms of the variety ‘Acacia pycnantha’ is Australia’s national floral emblem? The Aussie athletes at the Tokyo Olympics are so proud of their Gold & Green uniforms and this year’s medal tallies are looking very promising! 

The origin of “wattle” may be an Old Germanic word meaning “to weave”. From around 700 CE, watul was used in Old English to refer to the interwoven branches and sticks which formed fences, walls and roofs. Since about 1810, it refers to the Australian legumes that provide these branches.

Wattle is a part of the legume family known as Fabaceae.  Most wattles produce fluffy pom-pom or cylindrical flower spikes in shades of gold, brilliant yellow or cream. However, there are red flowering Acacia leprosa “Scarlet Blaze” or purple flowering Acacia purpureapetala. Flowering season begins in late winter and early spring. Their spectacular blossoms are very attractive to the local birds and bees.

Wattles prefers full sun or parts-hade locations. They grow well in most soil types provided they have good drainage. If they originate from a region with hot dry summers then they may struggle if you live somewhere which experiences humid wet summers.  They may die quickly or just fail to thrive and develop a lot of die back in older leaves. This was exactly what happened to the 5 wattle trees I planted in my garden. Speak to your local nursery or council to find out which varieties are suited to your area and if any have been listed as weeds for your region.

By John Hill-

Here is a video to showcase the beauty of a variety of wattles! ENJOY!

A photo taken along the Two Creek Track



DIY Succulent Terrarium Workshopby McKayla & Sophy

Date: Sat 18/9 Time: 1230 – 1330 Venue: via Zoom

A link will be sent to the registered participants

Free for anyone between 11 yr to 25 yr. CFS members are welcome. Non-members over 25 yrs old pay $28 to cover costs of materials. Send Bibi an email to enquire.

Succulent Terrariums

Online Shop Coming Soon

Youth are the leaders of our future!
We are all together to FIGHT COVID-19!
Steetwork Youth Week Terrarium Workshop

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Monstera Plant

Monstera belongs to the Araceae family. These species of evergreen tropical vines and shrubs that are native to Central America. They are famous for their natural leaf-holes, which has led to the rise of their nickname, Swiss Cheese Plant. The interesting shape and the random patterns of holes on the leaves are often featured in many household objects. I have curtains, placemats and bed sheets printed with Monstera leaves. The Monstera’s leaf-holes are called fenestrations and are theorized to maximize sun fleck capture on the forest floor by increasing the spread of the leaf while decreasing the mass of leaf cells to support.

Two different species of Monstera are cultivated as houseplants – Monstera deliciosa and Monstera adansonii. Monstera adansonii is distinguished from M. deliciosa by having longer, tapering leaves, as well as having completely enclosed leaf holes. Monstera deliciosa leaf holes eventually grow towards the edge and open up as they mature. They had been known for much longer by the indigenous peoples of Central America.

In the wilds of the jungle, Monstera can grow really big: 3-4 m tall with leaves that spread to nearly 60 cm feet wide. As an indoor plant, a ‘climbing pole’ is usually placed in the centre of the pot to encourage the plant to climb taller and produce large leaves.  

At the CFS June CFS Pop-Up Stall, we sold 4 of this plant elegantly placed in ceramic pots. I was told by some young members that Monstera was ‘hot’ among unit-dwellers. I found this YouTube footage on ‘care and propagation of Monstera Adansonii’ very informative and entertaining. With Greater Sydney Lockdown running for a little while, it is the best time to pick up some gardening tips! 

Watch this video by Sean: Monstera Adansonii care and propagation (variegated)

Monstera Plant in a Ceramic Pot
A giant Monstera Plant in Cremone Point

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by Kim Wilkins

THE SONGLINES by Bruce Chatwin

This is a book on aboriginal culture published in 1988 by an English author, Bruce Chatwin, who was a journalist and world traveller.  It is about his time in central Australia with another white man named Arkady in aboriginal communities in the 1980s.

He lets Arkady and members of local communities tell his theories about Songlines. These are the invisible and ancient routes that cross Australia connecting different individuals in different communities who have the same totem.  A Songline acted as a trading route and a passport and a road.  You have to wait until the last chapter to see an example and the concept is quite complicated.

It is told in an easy going “conversational” style in which the author also recounts his travels to other ancient cultures and tries to connect them to his argument that nomadic cultures fulfil a basic nomadic desire in human nature which modern culture has lost and that as a result of aboriginal cultures had no need to have tribal conflicts or wars. It looks at the culture from a European perspective but does not fall into the trap of being patronising or condescending.

I actually bought this book at the aboriginal museum in Brewarina, where the ancient fish traps are, earlier this year.  You really have to read the whole book, some 300 pages, to gain some understanding of the concept and that in itself makes this a fascinating read.



I decorated this Taro Cake exactly like the way my mum taught me many years ago.

My No. one favourite Chinese New Year food is Taro Savory cake (yam cake, 芋頭糕). It is a popular ‘Dim-Sim’ (small dish) on the ‘Yum-Cha’ menu and a regular item during Chinese New Year. While many Aussies enjoy celebrating Christmas in July, I’d like to make a toast for ‘Chinese New Year in August’! Taro is in season now. I bought a 3kg whole piece home. I made 4 Taro Savory Cakes to give to my Asian friends and saved one for myself. May the good wishes accompanying a New Year bring HOPE and Blessings for those finding COID-19 Lockdown a bit of a struggle!

PREP TIME: 25 minutes

COOK TIME: 35 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour

Freshly made from the steamer.

Ingredients A

  • 280g taro
  • 20g Chinese sausage
  • 20g Chinese cured meat
  • 10g (3 pieces) dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 20g dried shrimps
  • 2 shallots

Ingredients B

  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp five spices powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Ingredients C

  • 120g rice flour
  • 20g corn flour
  • 430ml soaking liquid plus water
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Peel of the skin of the taro. Cut it into small cubes.
  2. Deep-fry the shallot until golden brown. Drain and keep the shallot oil.
  3. Cut the Chinese sausage and cured meat into small cube.
  4. Soak the dried shiitake mushroom, then cut it into small dice.
  5. Soak the dry shrimps, drain, and have a few rough chops.
  6. Fry all the savory ingredients with the shallot oil until aromatic.
  7. Add the taro and ingredient B. Mix and set aside. Reserve one quarter as the topping of the cake.
  8. Combine all the ingredients C to form a batter. Cook over low heat until it turns into a thick paste.
  9. Combine the fried ingredients with the rice paste.
  10. Transfer it to a greased mold. Spread the remaining quarter of the sausage, curd meat, and dried shrimps on top of the taro cake.
  11. Cover with aluminium foil.
  12. Steam for 35 minutes.
  13. When it is done, store in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  14. Removed and cut into small pieces.
  15. Top with fried shallots, and chopped scallions. Served.

Check out the video demonstrating this recipe with details description of the ingredients.

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Riding on top of the waves – breaking down barriers to accessing mental health services.

The first Harmony Day was launched in 1999 by the then NSW MP Dr. Peter Wong. This was an initiative in respond to Pauline Hanson’s 1996 maiden speech at Parliament describing how Australia being ‘swamped’ by Asians.  According to the 2016 Census, nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was. Mandarin came first as the most spoken language other than English.  Eighty-five per cent of Australians agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia (check out the Australian Bureau of Statistics website for more details).

From the Desk of Bibi

How to Arm Yourself with COVID-19 Vaccines?

I was interviewed by an SBS Cantonese Radio Producer on my views on COVID-19 Vaccinations on 2/8/21 as NSW faced with an ever-increasing daily positive COVID-19 cases. The CALD (Culturally & Linguistically Diverse) communities would need more informative health advice in the ethnic languages and communicate in a way that matches the idiom of distress or explanatory model of disease of the different culture. I acted as a cultural interpreter for fellow Chinese and Hongkongers. I introduced myself as a medical anthropologist whose research interest was the overlap between medicine and culture. My PhD research explored the help-seeking behaviours of Chinese-Australians when experiencing psychological distress similar to clinical depression. I also worked at UNSW Research Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity.

I was so glad that I did exactly what was suggested by Prof Emma McByrde (Vaccine Policy Expert at James Cook University) at the Four Corners’ ‘Lockdown’ episode‘. I reached out to specific groups with high vaccine hesitancy: the 60 – 69 years old Chinese/Hongkongers (majority of the SBS Cantonese Radio audience are from Hong Kong or Southern part of China). I mentioned in the interview that this particular age group was showing the slowest uptake of the vaccine (less than 20% fully vaccinated). One of the more ‘obvious’ reasons would be people in this age group were given no choice but to take AstraZeneca vaccines. They were also very scared of the likely blood clot and fatal consequences of TTS (Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia syndrome).

I explained that so far (as of 2/8) there were only 6 deaths from 6.1 million doses of AZ vaccines administered. The reported cases of TTS, though relatively higher (in terms of percentage) than that of other Western & European countries. It could be due to the fact that during the initial vaccine roll-out, AZ vaccines were given to the most vulnerable groups (Phase 1A & 1B). I encouraged anyone who had doubts about any side-effects of the vaccines (AZ or Pfizer) should talk to their GPs who speak their language and highly respected among the patients. The lack of trust in the Australian government was also a major contribution to vaccine hesitance.

I also cited the example of Campbelltown, one of the 8 LGAs (on harsher lockdown restrictions than the rest of Greater Sydney) only reported 9 cases of COVID-19 on the day when the lockdown was tightened for these LGAs. In a week, the positive cases for a single day on Sun (1/8) rose to 62.  This steep rise was the very reason stricter public health orders have to be added to stop the movements of the residents in this particular LGA. Hopefully, these measures could prevent exponential increase of cases. I borrowed a Chinese idiom which described how ‘a small spot fire could burn a forest!’ I reminded the residents at some of the COVID-19 cases in LGAs with high Chinese population (e.g. Bayside, Strathfield and Inner West) had to be vigilant as daily cases in these areas were already in the low 2-digit figures. I explained the reason we should stay home to minimize our movement was because it was the people who carried the virus to spread it afar. Once again, I used the analog of staying at home as a strategy to ‘STOP the FIRE SPREADING’!  I reiterated the social distancing measures, wearing face masks and hand hygiene were all important strategies to ‘put out the fire’.       

I also touched on the fact that most SBS Radio audience would have taken vaccines like polio, small pox, hepatitis B and the annual flu shoot. These vaccines are effective in protecting us from adverse health consequences if we were to contract the disease. For the first time, a Power Point Presentation by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC in USA) compared COVID-19 with other common highly infectious diseases. It is more infectious than small pox and as infectious as chicken pox. These ‘names’ are familiar to the Chinese listeners, something they can relate to. I hope after the broadcast of the segment of my interview, some senior Chinese citizens may decide to ‘arm themselves with an AstraZeneca jab! 

An email from Prof Emma McByrde with additional points to consider:

Dear Bibiana,

Well done with your efforts at reaching the communities who have understandable vaccine hesitancy. One thing worth emphasizing is that when it comes to the severest forms of COVID-hospitalisation and death- AZ performs extremely well and is as good as Pfizer (after two doses)

It is hard to discuss what a 1 in a million risk is like with people, because it is not a risk we as humans are good at understanding. I like to talk about other things that have similar risks, like driving for 250 km or cycling for 30km. Each day we all take on average about one per million risk of unnatural death -mostly risking traffic accident, but also adding up all the workplace accidents, homicides, accidental drowning, poisoning etc. Every day . If we do anything out of the ordinary like go skiing, or ride a scooter or smoke we take much higher risks per event. I think that helps people find the perspective for the risk for the AZ vaccine.

Keep up the good work,


Martin Luther King Jr 1963


The positives of lock down!

By Carol Sudul

Lockdown of course has many negative causes which not only affects us but everyone in the world but there are many positives like

It forces us to slow down, not to be rushing here and there.

It makes us realise who and what is really important to us

It makes us appreciate how hard it is for teachers to teach our children

It makes us appreciate how nice the benefits of working from home

It makes people in nursing homes realise how important and wonderful their visits from family and friends really are.

It makes us realise what is really important and how we should really live and enjoy life in the moment as our lives can just in an instant

It makes you realise it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, the colour of your skin or where you work, everyone lives can be upturn by a pandemic

Enjoy the sunlight, smell the roses, try and live life to the fullest.

Here are some quotes about success & failures to help us reflect upon what matters most in life!

‘Yin-Yang’ Terrariums
Indoor Plant in Brass Pots
The Native Beauties
Success is not final, failure is not fatal vector poster. Motiational quotes
Chinese Idiom

The True meaning of “F” “F” “F”! A floristry student’s reflection on her life journey! By Helen B-M

A Tale of COURAGE!

Twenty-one years ago I walked out of Macquarie University with severe clinical depression and anxiety, without taking my exams or handing in numerous assignments, and without completing the forms to properly withdraw. I find it hilarious and sad that when you’re too sick to continue you have to be well enough to fill in paper work to say that. It wasn’t the first tertiary course I walked out of and it wouldn’t be the last.
At the end of that year an official academic record was mailed to me that read “F” “F” “F”. It stood for Fail, Fail, Fail.
I have carried that piece of paper with me for two decades.
Today I replaced it with “D” “D” “HD”.
Distinction, Distinction, High Distinction. I write this not to boast about the reasonable grades I’ve somehow managed to pull together over 18 months through panic attacks, worsening depression and the crisis point of calling Lifeline and being put on sedatives. Rather I share because I think sometimes we all need a reminder that your past doesn’t define you and that a piece of paper doesn’t actually tell the full story whether it says F or HD.
I thought I was returning to University for so many reasons, but I have come to understand that really it was about going back to make peace with what happened, to show that very lost girl that she was always capable and that she was not defined by those Fails. I needed to discover I was resilient and could do hard things even when every perfectionist cell in my being wanted to stop the anxiety by quitting. The thing is, I wasn’t a failure when that academic record was issued to me and I wasn’t a failure for all the years between then and now and I am not a failure now even as F F F still stands as an historic result under my name. I wouldn’t be a failure even if I hadn’t added new letters to my record. D, D, HD don’t make me any more worthy, special or valued than F, F, F.
I always tell our daughters what my Mum told me, that it’s the effort that matters and that I would be so proud of them if they worked hard and got an F, because they tried. An A+ without trying, just because you happened to have been blessed with a clever brain, was not something to be proud of. Yet deep down, whatever my Mum said, I’d always believed that if I got 99% I wasn’t good enough. I’m now proving to myself it is okay to be less than perfect and the world doesn’t end if you fall 1% or even 51% short.
I was awarded an academic scholarship for high school. I then proceeded to fail subjects, underachieve and refuse to attend. One response from my (actually incredibly supportive) school was to check I didn’t have a learning disability (not a bad response but I’m thankful we know more these days). I remember the educational psychologist who tested me at 16 saying, “Helen, you can do anything, law or medicine……but I strongly advise you to do something creative outside of University studies or you won’t stick with them.” Things continued downhill from there but that’s another story!
So, when I reached the end of semester 1 in my BA last year, I took the 1990’s psychologist’s words to heart. Having enjoyed a 2 hour community college flower workshop, I thought I should take up TAFE floristry alongside university studies so that my creativity was fed. Apparently, as my very intelligent sister who was born with common sense pointed out, enrolling in a vocational qualification to become a florist is a bigger commitment than the “creative hobby” the psychologist was talking about.
However, I am so glad my impulsive brain jumps in and does these things without considering the scale. If I’d not gone all in then I wouldn’t be where I am, studying one of the most creative, fun and rewarding courses with people I have come to love and the most wonderful floristry teacher who is actually a flower fairy. If I hadn’t returned to university, I never would have heeded the advice that I needed a “creative hobby” on the side to keep my brain engaged. It was going back to face my past that led me to what I want to do with my future. All this time I thought those big capital F’s stood for Fail, Fail, Fail. Now I know they were never about that. It just took me a while (okay, two decades) to realize but in four months time I will be a Fully Fledged Florist.

Community Flower Studio Logo Explained

Community: CFS is a community to support young people facing mental health challenges.

Creative: CFS hosts events to unleash young people s creative talents.

Resource: CFS provides members with resources to enhance their wellbeing.  

Support: CFS  offers support to members to develop their potential.

Growth: CFS fosters a growth mindset which is helpful in dealing with challenges.

Recovery: CFS sees recovery as achievable and a journey to cherish.



Website: Mobile: 0412 613 073

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Address: 10-12 Clanwilliam St., Willoughby, 2068, NSW, Australia.