Newsletter August 2023

The Voice to Parliament Special

SECNA July Meet-up: Finding our Voices – Indigenous Social Entrepreneurs shared their experiences

Screen shots from the documentary ‘The sea, the feather, and the dance machine’, directed by Andrea and Peter Hylands. 2023 NAIDOC Week lunchtime films screening at the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Australia.


Youth Mentoring Program

Climate Action Art Competition 2023

Sat 12 AugustDaffodil Month Pop-up Stall 9 am – 1 pm (outside Little Giant Roaster Café, 525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby)

Sat 12 August – The Freedom Fair 10 am – 4 pm at The Freedom Hub (283, Young St, Waterloo)

The Freedom Hub is a new collaborator with CFS. We are offering a FAME (Floral Arrangement Made Easy Workshop) for the students from their Survivor Schools in Nov. 2023. Their students escaped from all kinds of slavery to settle down in Sydney. This month, CFS is calling for a special donation to fund more creative workshops for 2024.

Your generous donations are much appreciated. The Community Flower Studio is a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC). Donations of over $2 will received tax deductions. Please kindly make a donation to the Community Flower Studio (CFS) by direct debit. Our NAB account details are as follows: BSB No.: 082-212Acc No.: 729-933-729

Sun 20 Sept CFS Bushwalk of the Month – Bradley’s Head to Clifton Gardens. If you are coming by public transport, Bibi will meet you at Taranga Zoo Wharf at 9:30 am. Otherwise, meet off the toilet block at the lower car park of Bradley’s Head Point. This track is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park – the day pass is $8. You may go to NSW National Park’s website to find out their annual pass. Generous discounts for seniors and at the time you renew your driving license.

Sat 9 Sept RUOK Day Pop-up Stall from 9 am to 1 pm (outside Little Giant Roaster Café, 525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby)

Sun 17 Sept – CFS Bushwalk of the Month – Two Creek Track from Echo Point Park to World War I Historical Site (return).

Three Creative Workshops by Young People for Young People during the Sept/Oct school holidays. Online registrations are now open.

Sat 23 Sept FAME (Floral Arrangement Made Easy) Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre from 1 pm to 3 pm. 

Tues 3 Oct Colour-Sand Glass Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Sat 7 Oct Succulent Terrarium Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Reflections on Past Events

The 2023 NAIDOC Person of the Year went to Worimi man Professor Kelvin Kong, who is Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon. To learn more about Dr Kong’s dedication to raising awareness of the devastating rates of middle-ear disease impacting First Nations people (over 50% of First Nations Children living in remote communities suffer from middle-ear infections), click here to watch his National Press Club Address on “Hearing Versus Listening“. Many behaviour problems displayed by Indigenous youth people are direct results of not being able to hear properly due to untreated middle -ear infection.

Mindfulness Botanical Drawing Workshop Sat 15 July, 1 – 3 pm at Chatswood Youth Centre. The new co-facilitator Ethan wrote:

The Workshop was a very relaxing experience. I enjoyed making colourful circles with the rim of cups; it was my favourite activity. I also appreciated the chocolate provided to keep us going! Speaking in front of everyone and explaining the instructions was a little bit scary, but co-facilitating overall was a nice experience.

Bibi reflected on the lessons learnt from this first workshop to offer an improved version next time.

  1. Taking on the challenges of a wide-age range – CFS is proud to be truly inclusive. Our fee structure allows young people (aged 11 – 25 years) to attend for free, while ‘adults’ (25 yr +) are charged a small fee to cover the cost of materials. This approach has proven effective in the past, as it attracts some seniors who just want a taste of the art medium. Such intergenerational exchange is beneficial to all parties involved – both the young and the young at heart.
  2. Perhaps we were over-ambitious and squeezed in too many ideas and tasks into a 2-hour workshop. Previous feedback suggested that repetitive tasks could be boring, which might explain my inclination to fill the workshop with loads of activities. We were mindful of the shorter attention span among the younger age group.
  3. Our main focus is to have fun and learn a few tips on building resilience. The exercise of the colour bombs serves as an outlet for their negative emotions. Additionally, I routinely conduct the ‘Share Your Journey’ session to provide stress-less tips and gauge how each participant ‘feels’ about the process. As a bonus, they get to take home their own ‘unique finished products.

The 2023 NAIDOC Week Pop-up Stall

NAIDOC Week Pop-up Stall outside little Giant Roaster Café on Sat 8 July from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Thank you for your continuous support. We were able to hand out 8 ‘Petal-it-Forward’ Bouquets and sold some beautiful Native bouquets and pot-plant dressed up with the Aussie gum nuts.

Download the Return & Earn App onto your phone and nominate ‘Petal-it-Forward’ as the charity campaign for your refund to go. An anonymous sponsor will match the amount donated, so your contribution will be doubled!

Good news!!!

As of 30th June 2023, we raised $106. 6. An additional donation of $110 was made by our anonymous sponsor to support our ‘PETAL-IT-FORWARD’ CAMPAIGN. It has been chosen to appear on the Return & Earn App from July to Oct 2023. This will hopefully boost the donations to CFS. If you have contacts with any primary or secondary schools, please contact Bibi. We would like to invite them to nominate CFS as their charity partner. It is always easier to engage with the school administration if you know somebody!

There are many ways to support CFS: become a member or contribute to the columns here. I’m always looking for a great recipe passed down from generation to generation. If you have a story to share, either write a short piece around 250 words or shoot us some photos. If there is a book or a movie you want to write a review, the CFS e-Newsletter will be happy to share with our e-Newsletter subscribers.  Contact Bibi on

If you would like to purchase a DIY Succulent Terrarium Kit for a loved one or a friend as a present, order online here ! This is also a ‘Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass’ DIY Kit which comes with a youth-approved instruction sheet and a QR code to the YouTube clip of previous workshops. Available here. You can also purchase a DIY Flower Kit from our online shop, click Flower Crown

Flower of the Month


by Dr Bibiana Chan

Cosmos, the delightful annual flowers with their vibrant daisy-like blooms are easy-to-grow. The flowers span from summer through autumn attract birds, bees and butterflies. With their resilience in poor soil conditions and simple cultivation from seeds, cosmos have become a favourite among gardeners. Let’s explore how to grow and care for these enchanting flowers.

Cosmos produces striking 7 – 12 cm daisy-like flowers in a variety of colours, including pink, orange, red and yellow, white, and maroon. Their flowerheads come in bowl or open-cup shapes and can reach impressive heights of up to 1.7 m. These versatile plants thrive in both garden beds and containers, making them an excellent choice for all kinds of gardening spaces.

To ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms, plant cosmos in well-draining soil. They prefer neutral to alkaline soils with a pH level of 7.0-7.5. Deadheading, the process of pruning off faded flowers, can prolong their flowering period and encourage branching. For taller varieties, staking or growing them against a fence can provide necessary support and protection from strong winds.

Cosmos is relatively low-maintenance and can tolerate dry soil, making them ideal for hot and arid climates. However, be cautious not to over-water or over-fertilize them, as this may result in fewer flowers. A single planting of cosmos can be highly productive, providing an abundance of airy, delicate blossoms throughout the season.

Beyond their visual appeal and ease of cultivation, cosmos hold deep symbolic meanings. The name “cosmos” comes from the Greek word meaning “world” or “harmonious arrangement,” reflecting the flower’s neatly ordered petals that symbolize the harmony of the universe. Gifting cosmos flowers conveys sentiments of order, harmony, peace, and joy, making them a thoughtful gesture for various occasions.

The meaning of cosmos flowers also varies based on their colour. Red cosmos symbolises love and passion; pink represents delicate aspects of love and femininity; white symbolises purity and faithfulness in romantic love; purple stands for strength, mystery, and royalty, while orange cosmos represents success and excitement and lastly, yellow symbolises friendship.

In conclusion, cosmos is an enchanting flower that brightens up any garden and serves as a versatile choice for gardeners of all skill levels. Whether grown in beds or containers, these daisy-like blooms will bring color and life to your outdoor spaces. So, sow some cosmos seeds, care for them, and watch these captivating flowers bloom in all their splendour, attracting bees and butterflies while spreading joy and harmony in the garden.

Plant of the Month

Osteopospermum Ecklonis

by Remi H

Let’s talk about the osteopospermum ecklonis, better known as ‘spider whites’! As this group of plants are still new to the gardening industry, new varieties appear every year! The center disks of some flowers are modified to be longer and denser. Some cultivars have longer-lasting blooms that stay open all day and night, normally the blooms close as darkness approaches.

They are beautiful flowers with dark purple blue centre and pure white petals with a spoon-like appearance, while other osteopospermum species grow to have petals that aren’t pinched, resembling a daisy, which is why they are called African daisies.

Although they originated from Africa, these flowers are widely available in Australia. They are heat and frost tolerant, thriving at temperatures around 21 degrees Celsius. Cool temperatures and high light levels will improve plant quality. Being low growing plants, the ‘spider whites’ can grow up to 25-36 cm tall, and 36-51 cm wide.

They grow to form rounded sub-shrubs with flowers from Spring to Autumn which is a relatively long season. These flowers enjoy full sun exposure to partial shade, which encourages them to bloom repeatedly all year round as long as they are watered properly. It is basically just to water the plants before the substrate becomes dry as osteopospermum roots are prone to rotting in overly moist conditions. T

They propagate within 4-5 weeks, they could grow from seeds but it’s preferred to propagate these flowers from seedlings or small plants as most osteopospermum are hybrids. They prefer more acidic soil from 5.8-6.2 pH, and are in general, pretty low maintenance flowers

Spider Whites are perfect filler plants for decorating gardens with their brilliant large flowers, and also work well as groundcovers to prevent weed growth. They also make great flowers for growing in pots or hanging baskets! You don’t have to worry about managing wilted flowers as new flowers will grow over dead flowers without trouble. If you were to plant these flowers outdoors, they could be affected by snails and mold, which could be resolved by regular maintenance, like laying out snail bait or fungicide.

Bibi’s notes:

Remi picked this plant to share with our readers with no prior knowledge that I once owned this ‘Spider Whites’ which was fascinating to watch. The blooms attracted butterflies and bees to my backyard from time to time. I also once owned the more stable variety of the African Daisies before the plant was hit by an extreme heat wave one summer when I was overseas. After collecting the beautiful images of this flower, I am keen to check out my local nursery to grab a pot of African Daisies.

Recipe of the Month

Sticky Dates Pudding

by Therese Lim


80g brown sugar 1 egg

175g SRF (sifted) 1 tsp vanilla essence

50g butter (melted)

200g chopped dates in


300ml boiling water (let this cool)  

25g butter

30g brown sugar  

BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE (microwave 1-2mins until sugar melted) 3/4 cup brown sugar; 1 cup cream; 2 Tbl brandy.


Mix sugar and flour Beat eggs with vanilla, add butter then mix in flour and dates Sprinkle sugar on top and blob butter all over Bake 190’C 32 minutes.


I use a kitchen scissors to chop up the dates.  Cool this to room temperature before adding it, including all the water. Best cooked just before serving. The brown sugar and blob butter produces a crispy cake top.  Serve with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream I fold all ingredients using a spatula, no electric gadgets needed.

This recipe has been adapted from Nigela Lawson.  I have reduced the sugar (measurements as below) because we are all sweet enough :), and with the butterscotch sauce and ice-cream I am sure this contains many calories.

Book Review

By Kim Wilkins

Voice to Parliament Handbook

by Thomas Mayo & Kerry O’Brien

For those who want to have a greater understanding of the referendum on the First Nation Voice this is essential reading.  One of the No vote’s mantras is “if you don’t understand it, Vote No”.  This 100-page, easy to read book will give you a comprehensive understanding of the background to the referendum, the history of the First Nation people’s struggle for recognition and why you should vote Yes.  

Thomas Mayo is a leading First Nation People’s advocate, one of the authors of the Uluru Statement, a member of the Federal Government Indigenous Working Group and a prominent member of Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition.  Kerry O’Brien is one of the county’s leading journalists.  He was a former presenter of the 7.30 Report and has a long history of involvement in indigenous issues.   The book briefly outlines the struggle for Aboriginal recognition over the last 200 years. Each author gives their personal reasons for supporting a ‘Yes’ vote.

There is an important chapter answering the commonly asked questions about the need for the Voice. There are contributions from Barbara Wilcox a cartoonist for the Sydney Morning Herald, former Australian of the Year Dr Fiona Stanley AC and prominent activist Professor Marcia Langton AO.  There is also a useful list of further reading.   If you are a supporter of the Yes cause you should recommend this wonderful and well written book to your more skeptical friends.  It gives a great summary of why this change is so important to our country.

You may like to listen to a webinar where Thomas and Kerry were guest speakers.

Scan the QR code for multicultural resources for the Voice to Parliament.

community-toolkit translated resources


The Indigenous Voice to Parliament is a way for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to guide the Government about laws and policies that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  


A Referendum is when voters are asked to answer Yes or No to a question or questions. The only way to change Australia’s Constitution is via a Referendum.

From the Desk of Bibi

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Give a First Nation Voice to Parliament – Everything to Gain and Nothing to Lose

A longer version of this article can be accessed here.

The Uluru statement from the Heart was presented to the Australian Government in 2018. Screen shot from YES or NO? Everything you need to know about the Indigenous Voice Referendum

After watching the special report on the 10th anniversary of NDIS last week, I responded to the call from ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) to help ‘fix’ the system. I described myself as ‘a Voice for the Voiceless’ in my capacity as a support person. I assisted some Mandarin-speaking NDIS applicants (in the psychosocial stream) at a ‘How to Appeal Your NDIS Review?’ Workshop. What is the parallel in regard to ‘A First Nation Voice to the Parliament’? In Australia, despite its appearance as a democratic and prosperous nation, there is a small percentage of the population that, due to historical events (e.g. The Stolen Generation) or highly ‘stigmatised’ illnesses, is lagging behind.”

The Stolen Generation: the group of children Robyrta grew up with on the Mornington Island mission (Catrina Felton-Busch).
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains images and names of people who have died. The story has been recorded with the permission of the deceased’s family.

While researching materials for this article, I came across ‘The Uluru Youth Dialogue Declaration’. I was glad to see the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ give ‘hope’ to the First Nations youth and empower them to campaign for a ‘Voice to Parliament’. Polls indicate strong support for the Voice, not only among Indigenous people (up to 83%) but also among young voters (73%). These statistics underscore the importance of including young voices, especially those from First Nations communities, in the decision-making process, as they are vital to shaping the future of the nation.

Imagine someone talking behind your back and making decisions for you regarding important aspects of your live. How would you react or response? Consulting the First Nation Australians matters related to them is just common sense!
Screen shot from YES or NO? Everything you need to know about the Indigenous Voice Referendum

Drawing on my Churchill Fellowship learning on the ‘Peer-led Recovery Program in North America’, the principle of ‘Nothing about us without us’ emphasizes the value of lived experiences. Similarly, the Chinese Indigenous concept of an ‘expert patient’ recognizes the transformative role that individuals who have faced ‘long-lasting sickness’ can play in helping others navigate similar paths. This principle resonates with the call for First Nations inclusion in discussions and planning for policies that affect their lives.

Image from the documentary ‘The sea, the feather, and the dance machine’, directed by Andrea and Peter Hylands. Culture and language is crucial to the survival of the Indigenous Australians.

The ‘Yes’ campaign, supporting the Voice to Parliament, follows a community development ‘bottom-up and co-design’ approach, ensuring First Nations’ voices are heard and their insights considered in shaping policies. The earlier establishment of the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ was a life-long wish of First Nation Constitutional Law academic Prof Megan Davis. This approach is not just common sense; it is a necessity to avoid the mistakes of the past, such as the rushed ‘Closing the Gap Intervention’, which failed to consult with Indigenous Australians, resulting in important health indicators going backward.

Fear Campaign preys on people’s fear and doubt about something one is not familiar. Why not ask questions to ‘educate’ yourself about the ‘Voice to Parliament? Screen shot from YES or NO? Everything you need to know about the Indigenous Voice Referendum

In Mornington Island, two community meetings were held after sharp increase in youth crime in 2022. It was decided that residents would implement Indigenous-led solutions to return ‘control’ to the elders with cultural knowledge. Mornington Shire Council Mayor Kyle Yanner said,

 “An on-country program helps them learn about their family lines and gives them purpose and connection.”

This is an example of consultations with grassroot communities resulted in better social impacts. The initial investment in time to support a ‘bottom-up and co-design approach will eventually pay off. This is my experience with developing youth programs for CFS. I hope a consultative ‘Voice’ in Parliament, while having no legislative power, would ensure that any decisions affecting Indigenous Australians are made with respect and consultation, leading to a more harmonious and inclusive nation.

Mornington Island received $850,000 last year to put toward programs for its young people in consultation with the First Nation elders. (Supplied: Mornington Shire Council)

One of the financial benefits for non-Indigenous Australians is more efficient use of taxpayers’ money. By engaging First Nations communities in policy-making, the government can better address their needs, leading to more effective use of resources and improved outcomes for all Australians. In another words, – saving on the public purse!

The ‘No’ campaign questions the details of the Voice to Parliament are missing. Screen shot from YES or NO? Everything you need to know about the Indigenous Voice Referendum

Critics of the Voice proposal have raised concerns about lack of details, potential corruption, and the idea that past government actions do not affect current and future generations. However, addressing these concerns requires implementing safeguards against corruption and focusing on the long-term benefits of respectful and inclusive decision-making.

The proposed make-up of the Voice to Parliament, but details yet to be determined by the standard legislative process through the Parliament
Screen shot from YES or NO? Everything you need to know about the Indigenous Voice Referendum

The Voice to Parliament is not about elevating one group above others, but recognizing Indigenous Australians as the First Nation of the country. It aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which advocates for Indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making concerning their rights. Furthermore, the Voice to Parliament can be seen as a step towards combating systemic racism in Australia. The negative impact of racial discrimination on mental health has been well-documented, and creating an inclusive platform for Indigenous voices can help address this issue on a national level.

The establishment of the Voice does not pose a significant risk of excessive litigation or clog up parliamentary work. Instead, it allows for a more responsive and informed approach to address the disadvantage gap faced by Indigenous Australians, as highlighted by the Productivity Commission.

Pages from the T. Mayo & K. O’Brien’s 2023 book showing a list of ‘abolished’ organisations with consultative roles to the Australian Government.

Supporting the referendum for the Voice to Parliament is a progressive step towards recognizing and respecting the First Nations’ unique history and culture. It paves the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and harmonious nation, where Indigenous Australians can take an active role in shaping their future. With everything to gain and nothing to lose, supporting the Voice is a collective responsibility to create a stronger and more united Australia for generations to come.

Fishing nets display (the smallest one is the original size) to show the culture of the Wangal People of the Eora Nation resided in the area.

Subscriber’s Corner

Bay2Bay Walk

by Korak C.

A beautiful day at the Birkenhead Point Marina by M.M.

Yesterday, I embarked on the Bay-to-Bay walk in Drummoyne and it proved to be a much-needed escape from the bustle of daily life. The serene waterfront setting and the gentle sway of sailboats on the bay put me at ease. As I followed the winding path, surrounded by lush greenery, I felt a deep connection with nature. The walk’s tranquility washed away my stress, leaving me with a sense of peace and contentment. I encountered fellow walkers and joggers, exchanging smiles and greetings which reinforced the sense of community this trail fostered. It was heartwarming to see people from different backgrounds united by their love for outdoors.   

The 3 co-leaders of the bushwalk by M.M..

Throughout the journey, I spotted various bird species, adding cheerful melodies to the surroundings. This encounter reminded me of the importance of preserving such natural habitats for wildlife. As the walk neared its end, I found myself reluctant to leave this captivating environment.

Mangrove at the Bay by Bibi C.

The Bay-to-Bay walk left a lasting impression, reminding me to cherish the simple joys nature offers and to take time to slow down and reflect. In conclusion the Bay – Bay walk in Drummoyne was a peaceful and rejuvenating experience and I am grateful for the opportunity to have immersed myself in its beauty.

Birkenhead Point Marina by Andrew G.

My Reflections

by Andrew G.

The morning sun rose as I prepared for an eventful day, packing what I thought was appropriate for the occasion. The clear skies proved to be foreshadowing the beauty of the clear weather of the day ahead. Bibi, Geoff and I walked into the Drummoyne shopping centre. Geoff split off from our group to buy mandarins for use later. We met up with two other CFS members, Michelle and Angelo. Other bushwalkers greeted us outside the large Coles store. When everyone had arrived, we formed a circle and Bibi asked me to start off with an “icebreaker” activity. I decided to ask everyone to introduce themselves and share any experiences they previously had on the Bay walk.

Iron Cove Bridge viewing from Birkenhead Point Wharf by Andrew G.

The introductions ended, and we made our way to the track under a large bridge next to a beautiful coastline. I took many pictures along the way, mostly of the beautiful scenery and some of the fellow bushwalkers. We stopped at the rainbow serpent statue halfway along the route, taking a group photo and continuing along the track.

A group photo at the Rainbow Serpent Sculpture by Indigenous artist Jason Wing by Geoff T.

After over two hours of walking, we had made it back to the familiar first section of the route and gathered outside the shopping centre.    We all decided that it was time for lunch, and many of us parted ways with the main group as they went to eat lunch together. However, Bibi was going to have lunch with them, meaning that I would have to find another ride home. I negotiated with my friend Korak’s parents, and they allowed me to hitch a ride home.

The Bay Run/Walk, Drummoyne – Full of surprises! By Colin M.

It was a glorious day for joining the Bay Walk, led by Bibianna (Bibi), President of CFS. Meeting up at Birkenhead shopping centre with 16 other members, we set out on the 7 km walk from under the Iron Cove bridge and onto the shared walking path. There we joined a throng of walkers and runners, coming and going in both direction around the foreshore. We set off in a counterclockwise direction with the water on our left, following the scenic foreshores of the Parramatta River estuary within the City of Canada Bay. Having been a visitor to Drummoyne as a young boy growing up in Ryde, it was the first time since then I had a chance to visit the popular Bay Run, thanks to the CFS monthly bushwalk program.

Marshland at Drummoyne by Bibi C.

It was amazing to see how much the area had changed and developed into an enjoyable, outdoor adventure setting for young and old.       The scenery along the way didn’t disappoint with a vast array of flora and fauna and mangroves along foreshore, parks and various facilities providing services for visitors.

During the final leg of the 7 km walk, we returned via the eastern end of Iron Cove Bridge pedestrian path, making our way back to Birkenhead Point.

Gladsville swimming pool (supplied by Colin M)

As we approached the western end of the Iron Cove Bridge, I was thrilled to see the Drummoyne Swimming Pool tucked in on the left. Having swam there as a 7-year-old, it brought back fond memories during my early days growing up in Ryde and catching the tram from Top Ryde along Victoria Road to Drummoyne.   It was an unexpected, but wonderful surprise for me to finish a fantastic morning walk with the group of friends from CFS and peering down over the Drummoyne swimming pool from the bridge. Although the pool was closed for the winter season, it was obvious that the swimming pool had not lost its charm. Thank you, Bibi.

Under the Iron Cove Bridge by Andrew G.
Old acquaintances and new friends – CUHK alumni by M.M.


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.



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