Newsletter July 2023



This year’s theme for NAIDOC Week (2-9 July) is ‘For our Elders. The Indigenous Australians have a lot of respect for their elders, this resonates well with the Chinese culture.

They (our elders) are cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and our loved ones. 
Our loved ones who pick us up in our low moments and celebrate us in our high ones. Who cook us a feed to comfort us and pull us into line, when we need them too.”

“There is nothing about us – without us.” has long been a slogan chanted by advocates for Indigenous self-autonomy. This echoes with the Recovery Movement by people with lived experience. I often introduce myself as a person in recovery – I still have ups and downs along my recovery journey. The important point is I learnt to manage my triggers and am able to live a contributing life to society.  During the NAIDOC Week in 2023, what would you do to celebrate For Your Elders

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“.

Programs at MCA during NAIDOC Week: The MCA has quite a few programs to celebrate NAIDOC Week including free movie screening every day during lunch time (12 noon – 1 pm). Check it out.

SECNA July Meetup ‘Finding Your Voice’ on Thurs 6 July 6 – 8 pm at Canva Surry Hill Centre. With delicious food provided by a social enterprise, you will hear amazing Indigenous people share their experiences and stories: how they found their voice and continue to use it to do amazing things. Members of CFS Youth Action Group are welcome to join Bibi as their ‘Leadership Training’.

Mindfulness Botanical Drawing Workshop Sat 15 July, 1 – 3 pm at Chatswood Youth Centre. The new co-facilitators, Ethan and Andrew, are ready after attended 2 training sessions hosted by Bibi (see photos below). They found the mindfulness exercises fascinating and engaging. Come along and try it for yourself! You will also learn to make your own greeting cards!  If you know any young people (14-25 yr) who would like to co-facilitate a workshop with Bibi, shoot us an email.

NAIDOC Week Pop-up Stall outside little Giant Roaster Café on Sat 8 July from 9:30 am to 1 pm. Come along to pick a Natives Bouquet and grab a ‘Petal-it-Forward’ vase to give to an elder.  

Sun 23 July Bushwalk of the MonthBay2Bay Walk in Drummoyne. This famous Bay2Bay Run is a 7km loop track popular among cyclists and runners. Bibi is going to take you on a leisure walk exploring a ‘Rainbow Serpent’ sculpture by Indigenous artist Jason Wing and the beautiful marshland along the bay!  

Reflections on Past Events

A big tick for the Ferndale Park Track by Ethan W.

Walking on the Ferndale Park walking track on Sun 28 June was a great experience. I think it’s a great choice for escaping the bustling city life. We spotted many ferns, including the delicate common maidenhair fern, the tall tree fern, the bird’s nest fern and many more. We also saw some wildlife such as cockatoos and kookaburras. I never knew there was such a beautiful rainforest-like environment hidden in this concrete jungle we live in. Doing this walk really made me appreciate the beauty of nature and encouraged me to ask my family to do the walk as well. For anyone who’s not already a community flower studio member, I recommend joining, so you can embark on these amazing opportunities too.

Notes by Bibi

Ethan assisted me in co-leading the CFS Bushwalk of Month for the first time as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award Program. At the beginning, he shared with the walkers a piece of history of the neighbourhood and what Floral and Fauna to expect along the track. I gave each person a plant-based garbage bag to collect plastic rubbish found on the track. The program for the rest of 2023 is available for online registration: Bushwalk of the Month – Community Flower Studio. If you would like to check out earlier walks (March – June 2023), the details are still available on the CFS website. You are welcome to organise your own walk to take your friends and family along. Shoot me an email if you have any questions.

CFS was proud to supply the floral arrangements for StreetWork’s Sponsors Breakfast on 17 June at Willoughby Uniting Church.

Youth Case Management is about assessing, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating a young person’s improved outcomes and experiences. StreetWork’s caseworkers achieve this by: building trust and nurturing open conversations as well as empowering young people – partnering with them to set and achieve the life goals that they care about. Click here to find out more.

This absolutely resonates with the goals of the Community Flower Studio.

We’ve done it again!

CFS was honoured to once again to supply floral arrangements for fellow SECNA (Social Enterprise Council NSW & ACT) member WELCOME MERCHANT for their Refugee Week Dinner on Thurs 22 June. The occasion was to celebrate the many contributions of Refugees to multicultural Australia. Diversity in FOOD, CULTURES, BUSINESS EXPERTISE & LANGUAGES is why Australia gets to be ahead in the GLOBAL STAGE! Australia is the most multicultural society in the Southern Hemisphere!

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

Tetragona Nuts

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Tetragona Nuts (eucalyptus tetragona) also known as Tallerack, usually available in April and May. It belongs to the Myrtaceae family and is endemic to SW Western Australia on plains in white sandy soils. 

A matured eucalyptus tetragona plant.
A young plant.

It is well suited to arid and semi-arid environments. It is drought tolerant but is susceptible to frost. It can grow in a range of soils (preferably moist but well-drained) in a full sun position.

Flowers and nuts hanging on the branches.

Cut stems commonly sold at the flower market are 35-50cm long with a vase life of up to 2 weeks in a cold room. Like other Natives, tetragona nuts can be air-dried to keep for a long time.

The silver blue Tetragona Nuts made this bouquet look so elegant.

Each stem features clusters of silver gum nuts and aromatic blue-green foliage. Silvery-white tones along the length of the stems and seed pods. Tetragona nuts are ideal for bridal bouquets with a vintage colour theme.

In Bibi’s opinion, flowers can absolutely boost work proficiency!

The word ‘glaucous’ is often used to describe these nuts – a pale grey or bluish-green, especially when covered with a powdery residue. It is one of my favourite Natives to use to complement the large head feature flowers like protea or banksia.  Add a level of elegance to the overall arrangement. What do you think?

Don’t you just love these Tetragona Nuts?

CFS is on Tik-Tok! Check out this clip below:

Plant of the Month

Asparagus Fern

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Asparagus fern Basket asparagus fern (Bushy asparagus, Emerald asparagus fern, Emerald feather, Sprenger asparagus) is in the family of Asparagaceae. It is a slightly woody evergreen herb with tiny spines borne in axils along branches. The needle-like leaves reduced to scales but leaf-like, solitary or with clusters of two or three linear branchlets called cladophylls. The flowers are small and fragrant, either white or pale pink in short axillary racemes 1-3 cm long. The fruit is bright red, 1-3 seeded, globose berry around 6-12 mm in diameter when matured. Seeds are black of approximately 3 mm in diameter.

Green, red and black berries showing the various stage of maturity..

Asparagus fern is a native of eastern and southern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It was introduced into Australia as an ornamental plant and is still found in older gardens. Its foliage is still used world-wide in the cut flower industry.

A wedding bouquet with Asparagus fern as greenery

Asparagus fern spreads either vegetatively by tubers or by bird-dispersed seeds. Colonies are readily formed which displace native vegetation and prevent native species from reestablishing. 

These tubers are rich in nutrients to support future growth.

Asparagus fern is a highly invasive, shade-tolerant perennial plant and is very difficult to control once established due to its extensive root structure and the ability to regrow from small parts of roots. To limit planting and intentional spread of the species is a preventative measure to control asparagus fern.  The public is encouraged to refrain from purchasing, propagating, or planting asparagus fern due to its ability to escape from cultivation and grow aggressively in natural areas. Even potted specimens used as outdoor houseplants help spread asparagus fern, as the berries are readily eaten by foraging birds.

The invasive nature of Asparagus fern cannot be underestimated.

It is extremely challenging to remove existing plants within the landscape. Care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process. Gloves and clippers are highly recommended when handling this plant.

Asparagus fern has the potential to invade a wide range of coastal and sub-coastal plant communities, in areas north from Sydney. It competes with native ground cover and understorey plants by forming dense infestations that smother other species and prevent their germination and establishment. It can form very large, continuous infestations.

Asparagus Ferns on YouTube

Some not-so-funny facts: imagine the native plants as the First Nation Australians. They were being ‘invaded’ by the European settlers since Captain Cook’s landing in the 18th century. These settlers brought along all kinds of infectious diseases (smallpox, influenza, measles, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases). Subsequently, a large proportion of the Indigenous populations was wiped out due to lack of previous exposure to these diseases. It was estimated that up to 70 per cent died. The diseases affected entire generations of the First Nations populations and survivors were in many cases left without family or community leaders.

The Referendum for the Voice to Parliament is to ensure that the First Nation Australians will be consulted in matters related to them.  Check out the original Uluru Statement from the Heart here. May I ask those supporting the No Campaign, “What harm would this cause?”                                                                                                                                              

Recipe of the Month

Banana Bread by Teresa Lam


3 large ripe bananas

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

125gm butter

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt optional

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup roasted walnuts

1/2 cup choc chips


Take the eggs and butter out of the fridge a couple of hours ahead. Preheat oven to 175c (350f) no need to use fan forced at this temperature. Use butter to oil the 5x9in loaf tin. Melt butter and cream with sugar. set aside. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Beat eggs and vanilla together. Add egg mixture and sour cream to butter mixture. fold lightly. Use a fork and mash the bananas. fold into the wet mixture. mix evenly. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold lightly. Add chopped walnuts or choc chips as the last step.

Bake for 45m to 60m, depending on your oven. Test with inserting a skewer at around 45min. Skewer should come out dry. Once cooked, remove from oven and let it rest for 15min. Remove from pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Serve as is or warmed up with bananas and a toffee sauce topping and whipped cream for a fancy presentation.

TIPS: 1. Make sure the eggs are fresh and at room temperature. 2. Use good quality butter if possible. 3. Walnuts will give the bread texture. 4. Choc chips can make it too sweet. 5. It pays to cream the butter and sugar. 6. Sour cream or yoghurt makes the bread moist. 7. You can also replace bananas with raspberries and pear for variety.

Book Review

By Kim Wilkins

Cold Enough for Snow

by Jessica Au

This is a highly praised 92-page novella written by Melbourne- based Australian author Jessica Au. it is her second novel and won the inaugural Nobel Prize in 2020, an international award, as well as the 2023 Victorian Premier Literary Award in the fiction and overall categories. It is about a trip to Japan organised by an Australian- raised daughter to get to know better her ageing Hong Kong- raised mother. It has no real plot but is beautifully written. It has won international plaudits for the author and has been translated into several languages. We do not know whether the story is autobiographical. It is about the mental meanderings, if you like, of the daughter, not only about Japan and her efforts to get closer to her very reserved and polite mother but about her immediate past life at university and with her boyfriend with whom she has previously visited Japan. She has an artistic background and has beautiful descriptions of Japanese art scenery and food. Jessica’s only previous novel is called Cargo which was also highly praised. If you want to read a book where you can just take a delight in the author’s gift for words this is it. She has a rare gift for imagery and one can only hope a bright future as a novelist.

From the Desk of Bibi

by Dr Bibiana Chan

CFS hosted a Climate Action Art Exhibition in Oct 2022 during Mental Health Week at Balgowlah Stockland Centre. Three members of the CFS Youth Action Group (YAG) and nine Balgowlah Scouts and Cubs took part as ‘curators’ for the exhibition. They (some were artists behind the artwork) told the stories of ‘WHY, WHAT, WHEN AND HOW’ climate actions would be useful to tackle the challenges faced by climate change. The focus was to give young people a VOICE and raise awareness of the urgency of climate actions. These young curators invited exhibition visitors to share their views on post-it-notes.

Encouraged by the success of the 2022 exhibition, a few members of the CFS-YAG and myself met twice via Zoom in Jan 2023 to organise a Climate Action Art Competition (CAAC). In addition to raising awareness, CAAC invites young people to explore deeper into a specific climate action. Last month, I facilitated my 6th Climate Action Art Workshop for 18 cubs at the hall of the 1st Forestville Scouts Group. I opened the workshop with a question, ‘Do you know WHY I am here this evening?’

Climate Action Art Competition To raise awareness of urgent climate actions needed. Young people (aged 10 – 25 yr ) are welcome. Click here to enter. If you would like Bibi to host a ‘Climate Action Art Workshop’ for your organisation/school, just shoot her an email.

One cub raised his hand, ‘So we can win $100!’ There were a few giggles. I replied, ‘Haha, you’ve done your homework! Yes, I’m here to talk about a Climate Action Art Competition. The winner of each age category will take home a $100 Westfield gift card. There are 6 highly recommended prizes for each category too. You can enter the 10 – 13 yr.  age group.’ We had great fun, just look at the photos and the comments by the scout leaders:

The Cubs recently got crafty with Dr Bibiana Chan from the Community Flower Studio Inc. We started our artworks for the Climate Action Art Competition. We had some great conversations about the threats to our climate and how we can reduce, reuse, recycle, reimagine….

It was a fabulous evening and the Cubs were really engaged not only in the activity but also looking at nature and trash and art with a new perspective.

Reflecting on the conversations I had with the cubs, I was very impressed by their enthusiasm and curiosity to find out more about what actions a young person could do. Out of the 5 Rs (Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Repair and Recycle), perhaps ‘Reduce’ is the hardest to put into practice in the current consumerism economy. There is no way to escape commercial advertisements! TV, radio, social media. bill posts and many ‘social influencers’. Children as young as 2 yr are attracted to the Disney merchandise of their favourite cartoon characters! I often wonder ‘Will Earth’s resources ever run out?’  I discussed  deforestation with the cubs. 

Interestingly, I came across The World Count and learnt that there was only 27.3% of wild forest left globally as of 2 July 2023. 

Closer to home: deforestation in Australia is a major environmental concern, leading to the loss of millions of native animals, including endangered species, and destruction of forests and woodlands. Nearly 50% of our forest cover has been cleared in the last two centuries, making Australia one of the worst developed countries for deforestation.”

If you think The World Counts presents a very gloomy picture for mankind, think again. It was actually created to raise awareness of important global challenges. “Our current consumer society is not sustainable. In essence, products are made from natural resources and eventually turned into waste. With a limited amount of natural resources, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we can’t run such a system forever.”

An American architect William McDonough and a German chemist Dr Michael Braungart developed a new concept: the Cradle-to-Cradle Design – Remaking the Way We Make Things. Its philosophy, adds the needs of future generations in the equation, aims to strike a balance between economic growth and environmental sustainability. Listen to McDonough’s talk here: on Circularity’19 – not just circular, but safe.

If you appreciate something lighter, this is for you: William reciting his poem “Towards a New Language of Luxury”.

Dr Michael Braungart recently shared his vision at European Parliament in Brussels. He has this truly visionary and ambitious plan to transform China to become a cradle-to-cradle country. He acknowledged that Yellow River is basically the cradle of the Chinese civilization, if this region starts to adopt this new concept, we can inspire people with our success.

“… because what we do (in Europe) is nice but if we can inspire people in China to think differently then we will really make a difference!… With innovation, you need trust and respect for each other.”

Cradle2Cradle Design in Fashion Industry

Some of the visitors to our 2022 Climate Action Art Exhibition commented that China and India were the highest polluters (in terms of CO₂ Emissions) and ‘WHY don’t they do something first?” This statement left out an important polluter – USA (came 2nd in the race, c.f. Australian in the 16th place . Fortunately, there is someone like Dr Michale Braungart, who has the insight in forming partnership with China in the Cradle-to-Cradle Design. He is also humble to want to learn from China’s experience in the Yellow River Region. He knew too well that this is the ‘Cradle of Civilisation of China’.

There is still HOPE for mankind!

Subscriber’s Corner

Bunnings Warehouse’ DIY Workshops Re-launch

by Michelle DB

After 3 years of hibernation, the very popular Bunnings Warehouse DIY Workshops finally returned on weekends. Joe, the Bunnings Community Activity Organiser at Chatswood invited Bibi to facilitate a creative workshop for the re-launch.

Today (1 July), I assisted her with a free adult’s terrarium workshop. It was also part of a celebration to welcome customers to inspect the brand-new ‘demo’ renovations completed on the 2nd floor of the Chatswood Warehouse. Lots of DIY projects to suit every budget!

There were 11 participants (a couple came with a friend, a family of 3, some mother-daughter duos). They really enjoyed the workshop, lots of laughs and smiles and were excited about their finished terrariums.  There were many enquiries about different workshops available and other CFS activities, such as ‘Bushwalk of the Month’.

Bibi recruited two CFS e-Newsletter subscribers by inviting them to scan a QR code, so they would never miss a workshop! It was a really enjoyable experience to volunteer for this workshop.

Other interesting news:

Teresa L is visiting families in USA. She took these photos of some beautiful blooms to share with the CFS family.

Pink Feather Celosia
Yellow Daisies
White Hydrangeas close-up.
Hydrangeas in abundance
White Hydrangeas
Orange Zinnias

Notes from Bibi: According to the author of the book ‘What a Waste’ (DK 2019), only 9% of plastic is recycled (see the image below). If the adults are waiting for other countries to take the necessary climate actions first, one day these beautiful flowers will only be found in digital formats.


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.