Newsletter November 2023

Beat the Christmas Blues!

CFS Pop-up Stall is on the 2nd Sat of each month, outside Little Giant Roaster Cafe


Youth Mentoring Program

Thurs Nov 2FAME (Floral Arrangements Made Easy) Workshop for Students at Survivor School of The Freedom Hub at Dougherty Community Centre.

The Freedom Hub is a new collaborator with CFS. CFS is running a FAME (Floral Arrangement Made Easy) Workshop for the students from their Survivor Schools. Their students escaped from all kinds of slavery to settle down in Sydney. We continue to call for special donations to fund more creative workshops for 2024.

Images from a Spring Floral Arrangements Made Easy (FAME) Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre

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 receive 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.: 082-212, Acc No.: 729-933-729

Thurs Nov 9: Laugher Yoga Class at Dougherty Community Centre Craft Room (4 – 5 pm).

Sat Nov 11: Beat the Christmas Blues Pop-up stall (9 am – 1 pm) outside Little Giant Roaster Cafe (525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby).

Sun November 19 CFS Bushwalk of Nov. Last walk for 2023 before everyone gets ready for Christmas. We will meet at the historic Custome House and then walk up the Moore Stairs (opened in 1868) to the North Gate of the Sydney Royal Botanical Garden. (SRBG) We’ll head to the Calyx to admire the flora in the surroundings. After snapping a few photos, we continue to the famous Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. The view at this spot is magnificent! Many tourists from around the world show off their selfies sitting in Mrs Mcquarie Chair. We will keep an eye on floral & fauna that call SRBG home. The group will head back to Circular Quay for lunch.

Thurs November 23 – Laughter Yoga Class at Chatswood Dougherty Community Centre (4 – 4:45 pm)

Sat November 25 A new Resin Art Workshop will be held at Chatwood Youth Centre. Online registration will be available soon.

Sat Dec 9: Christmas Pop-up stall (9 am – 1 pm) outside Little Giant Roaster Cafe (525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby).

Sat Dec 16: Christmas Pop-up stall (9 am – 1 pm) outside Little Giant Roaster Cafe (525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby).

Reflections on Past Events

Colour-sand Glass Workshop – Ben was the STAR co-facilitator that day and he demonstrated a new trick to create interesting patterns with the colour sand.

Terrarium Workshop – Participants at this workshop were not very engaging! Bibi discussed with the co-facilitators, over a cup of hot chocolate afterwards, what could we learn from this experience. Perhaps we could bring in play some group games (on top of the ice-breaker activity) to better engage with Tweens. A more structured co-facilitator training might be a good idea.

Mental Health Month Laughter Yoga (12 & 26/10): sharing the ‘Laugher Yoga Chant in Chinese’ – localized the content and exercise for senior Chinese participants. A big thank you to Jaydon to co-lead the class with Bibi and shot video clips.

Mental Health Week Pop-up Stall on Oct 14 – was unusually quiet due to the focus on the Referendum. The whole Nation had voted and perhaps a new pathway to bridge the gap is required. We managed to hand out 10 Petal-it-Forward Vases to put a smile on someone’s face!

Bibi escaped to Canberra for a Digital Mental Health Policy Forum, hosted by the Black Dog Institute, to pick up some tips on how to face a world of young people growing up with a ‘device’ in the palms (iPad or smart phone).

Reimaging Leadership Workshop – Anthony and Bibi attended this workshop to learn what are the characteristics of today’s leaders. Rabia Khan, the CFS Social Impact Consultant, was one of the 3 co-facilitators of this workshop. Dr. Michelle Imison and Hema Kangeson were all very knowledgeable in this topic. This was the first time CFS sponsored a young member to attend an external workshop as part of CFS’ Youth Mentoring Program.


Reflections after attending a ‘Reimagining Leadership Workshop’ – by Anthony N.

In the recent “Reimagining Leadership” workshop held at South Eveleigh Community Hub, we engaged in a thought-provoking session focused on cultivating inclusive and successful leadership. The objective was to nurture fearless and visionary leaders capable of transforming the landscape of leadership. The core message resonated clearly, as demonstrated by the selection of Barrack Obama as a standout leader during the self-introduction sessions.

The workshop’s thoughtful design ensured that it transcended theoretical discussions, providing a practical platform for engaging in profound dialogues on redefining leadership. This platform proved to be particularly valuable for individuals across industries, including education and Luxury Retail, irrespective of their titles. Additionally, it facilitated an exchange of participants’ values, contributing to the development of successful leadership traits.

One notable team-building activity involved writing sticky notes to identify attributes crucial for effective leadership. This exercise allowed me to acquire qualities such as empathy, which I may have personally lacked. The session not only provided valuable advice but also served as a guide for self-improvement on my journey as an emerging leader.

Among the most exciting experiences was the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of participants. Engaging with peers who differed in appearance, thought, and background proved to be enlightening. This melting pot of perspectives underscored the essence of the workshop: leadership becomes richer and more robust with diverse cultures and views.

Celebrating CFS’ 4th Anniversary and supporting our collaborator ‘StreetWork’s Glam & Grunge Dinner’ on Fri Oct 20. Twenty members and their partners ‘dressed up’ either Glam or Grunge or both to attend StreetWork’s annual fundraising dinner. Everyone had a great time and some of us let the inner child out to ‘dance’!   

The Bushwalk of Oct was well attended with participants visiting from Canada and Woy Woy. We spilt into two groups to suit different abilities. Geoff and Andrew led walkers for the rocky coastal climb and Bibi took a small group on the concrete pathway along the road. We reunited at Harbord Diggers for lunch. It was a beautiful Spring day with the sea breeze brushing on our faces.

This is Andrew G’s account of the walk:

After a seemingly 30-minute drive that felt like hours, our small group found ourselves overlooking a beach surrounded by parked cars. The parking lot was full and fully exposed to the sun, so we retreated to a spot a few intersections back and found a perfect shaded spot under a tree to park next to. We dashed towards the meetup point. We were running a little bit late. Luckily when we arrived, most of the participants were trickling in. Angelo, and Michelle were waiting with their Canadian friend, John. Our group made our way along the edge of the beach, eventually making it down to the rock pool and splitting off into two groups. Our group was to take the more challenging rocky path while Bibi’s group were to take a paved route along the cliff. After a tricky climb, we made it to the South Curl Curl beach area. We then pushed on to as far as the Harbord Langoon which meets the North Curl Curl beach. We came together near a mobile coffee shop and had a bit of a conversation about swimming and all sorts of other things. Then we made our way to Harbord Diggers for lunch. I got nachos, while a variety of other dishes presented themselves to the other participants. Charles kindly bought me a milkshake and I thanked him in the process. A while later the milkshake came to our table and the chocolate sauce painted on the side of the jar looked like a dog, which I added some stripes with my straw for extra effect. As our group dispersed, Bibi drove me back to my house, and the day had ended.

Photo Credit: Andrew G.

To wrap up Mental Health Month, CFS hosted a fundraising Bunnings BBQ at the Chatswood warehouse on Sat 28/10. A total of 16 CFS members ‘rolled up their sleeves’ (literally) to put on a great BBQ! A special thank you to Michelle for organizing the sausages, onions and bread, while her better half Angello lit up the cooking area! Bibi was proud to source some ‘taco stands’ (on eBay) to hold the sausage sandwiches in place. Everyone worked very hard to demonstrate CFS’s community spirit! We raised a net proceed of approximately $2,000.      


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

Scabiosa, commonly known as the pincushion flower, is Scabiosa spp. The genus Scabiosa encompasses various species and cultivars within the Caprifoliaceae family. It is originating from Europe and Asia, graces gardens with its distinctive rounded flower heads resembling pincushions. Boasting colors like blue, pink, and purple, Scabiosa is a charming addition to any garden.

Characterized by an intricate pincushion-like structure, its flowers feature a central disk surrounded by delicate petals, attracting butterflies and bees. Caring for Scabiosa is simple—thriving in well-drained soil and sunlight, it requires moderate watering and deadheading for prolonged flowering. As blooms fade, Scabiosa transforms with the emergence of dried seed pods. These round, compact pods, resembling small, spiky balls, add a fascinating dimension to the garden’s visual appeal. The pods evolve in color from vibrant to earthy tones, offering interest even after the flowering phase.

Beyond aesthetics, the dried seed pods hold the promise of future growth. Collected for decorative purposes, they add a rustic touch to bouquets or displays. Symbolically, they represent renewal and continuity as they contain the seeds for the next generation of Scabiosa plants. Scabiosa carries historical significance in herbal medicine, with its name derived from the Latin word “scabies,” reflecting its traditional use in treating skin conditions. This historical connection adds depth to the plant’s story, intertwining beauty with a touch of healing tradition.

A small arrangement with Scabiosa seed pods

Scabiosa enchants with its origin, distinctive characteristics, and simplicity of care. From vibrant blooms to intriguing dried seed pods, it offers a journey through colors, textures, and symbolism in the garden. The pincushion flower stands as a testament to the beauty and resilience found in nature’s tapestry, a multifaceted gem in any garden landscape.

This Rose Bouquet with Scabiosa as a filler-flowers enhanced the overall texture.

Plant of the Month


by Remii Hui


Crocodile Ferns in a ceramic pot could make a great house-warming gift!

The Viola hederacea is one type of an Australian Native Violet, it is an evergreen perennial plant found in Eastern Australian and the Western Pacific Islands but can be found from Queensland to New South awakes to Adelaide. It has round, kidney shaped dark green leaves and a white flower with pale purple in the centre. It is a perfect lawn substitute as well as a houseplant.

Violets growing in the Community Flower Studio Nursery.

Native violets do not have a strong scent but are able to attract bees and native birds to the garden. This flower has grown to adapt to the tougher Australian climate, so it can grow well in most conditions. The flowers and leaves are pet friendly as well! So even if your pets accidentally take a nibble, it won’t be poisonous.

Best of all, they are delightful food. Native violets are edible, both the leaves and flowers contain vitamin C and A, which make great decorations on cakes and cupcakes, or just brewed simply in tea or sprinkle on top of a salad.

 While the plant can grow in full sun, it prefers partial shade, and preferably planted during spring or autumn, as that’s when most flowers will bloom, although they bloom all year. They can be watered once every two days and to keep the soil moist. The violet also needs well-draining soil, not sand or clay soil. They can grow outdoors, or indoors as hanging plants, growing up to 10 cm tall. These plants could be affected by spider mite, which could be prevented by misting the underside of leaves.

The flowers propagate naturally through horizontal stems planting down roots, but you can also easily purchase seeds and wait for them to germinate or by dipping the stem in a rooting mix and plant it into soil, waiting for roots to grow. Due to its swift natural propagation, it requires regular trimming to prevent it from invading garden beds or unwanted areas.

Recipe of the Month

Tuna on Sour Dough Rye Bread

by Les Castro

Tuna in spring water with red onion, olive with anchovies mixed in sesame salad sauce topped with black and white sesames.

To make the 3 pieces, I used a mini can of tuna (about 90 or so gm), couple of stripes of diced red onion, 4 green olives stuffed with anchovies which I then sliced. Mix them up with Japanese sesame salad dressing (add to taste).

Toast thick sliced sour dough rye. Lay the mix on bread then sprinkle black and white sesame seeds on top to finish and serve.

Book Review

By Bibi and Chat-GPT

Giirl, Woman, Other

by Bernardine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo is a Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London. She co-won the Booker Prize in 2019 for “Girl, Woman, Other,” sharing the honour with Margaret Atwood. Evaristo is the first black woman to receive the Booker Prize, a historic achievement in the literary world. Her work is a groundbreaking exploration of identity and intersectionality. Through a polyphonic narrative, Evaristo magnificently weaves together the lives of twelve black British women, transcending time and societal expectations.

From the radical feminist Amma to the successful banker Carole, the novel delves into the complexities of womanhood, sexuality, and race. The book is a celebration of diversity, resilience, and the universal human experience. With humor and warmth, Evaristo addresses systemic oppression and discrimination, making the novel a powerful tool for empathy and understanding.

“Girl, Woman, Other” is not just a literary triumph; it’s a cultural milestone. Evaristo’s bold narrative choices and exploration of individuality leave a lasting impact, challenging societal norms and embracing the beauty of diversity. This transformative reading experience resonates, marking it as a significant contribution to contemporary literature.

In this novel, Bernardine Evaristo utilizes a distinctive prose style, but it’s worth noting that the text also incorporates unconventional punctuation, breaking away from traditional prose norms. This unique stylistic choice adds a poetic and rhythmic quality to the narrative, blurring the lines between prose and poetry.

Evaristo shared during the 2022 Sydney Writer’s Festival that “Girl, Woman, Other” was driven by the desire to depict the daily experiences of non-white individuals facing racial discrimination. This novel, a must-read for those interested in the nuances of race and identity, intricately weaves diverse narratives. Evaristo’s compelling storytelling makes the book an essential contribution to understanding the complexities of gender, race, and societal expectations.

From the Desk of Bibi

From Intelligence Quotient (IQ) to Emotional Quotient (EQ) to Social Fitness!

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Bibi was featured in an image at StreetWork Fundraising Dinner thanking their volunteers.

I once heard this anonymous quote, ‘IQ got you the job, EQ got you the promotion!’ I may add one more ‘Social Fitness got you to live a long and healthy (both physical and mental) life!’ This is my story.

Every October, I’ll get ready some ‘Stress-less Postcards’ created by WayAhead’ to hand out at various events held by CFS to promote mental wellbeing. This October, I was naïve enough to ‘cramped’ 3 creative workshops (as part of Willoughby City Council’s EMERGE Festival) over 3 weekends of the Sept/Oct school holidays. Two of which were scheduled in the first week of Oct. The primary goal was to avoid direct competition with Sat Sports, music tutorials and dance lessons. I also worked with a few members to pilot a new Resin Art Workshop to be offered at the end of Nov.  I was totally exhausted and neglected my own mental health. I felt like my ‘battery had died’ and truly need a super-charge!

The adoption of this kind of jargons to treat the human body as a battery-operated robot requiring constant charging is very common. These days, robots have already replaced many tasks once performed by human (e.g. clearing landmines).  In the not-too-far future, generative A.I. may take over jobs which could be programed following pre-set algorithms to ‘predict’ human behaviours (IQ may not get you a job then). AI will provide the corresponding responses or actions. Many of us have encountered chat box (with built-in limited standard answers) when responding to online enquiries. I was very frustrated when I tried to lodge a complaint to Aust Post regarding a lost parcel. While the ‘non-human agent’ threw a bunch of standard answers to my question, I also learnt how to ‘earn’ my way to a human agent. When I was finally put on hold to wait for a human voice to talk to me, my call was disconnected due to the waiting time surpassed the pre-set cut-off. There was no pathway for me to skip the initial obstacles and no guarantee that I wouldn’t get hung up again! At that point, I stopped to ‘contain my negative emotions’ (anger, frustration and helplessness). Perhaps my EQ saved me from fighting an unwinnable battle with an AI. 

A blended model of care is the way forward.

Imagine if an AI is to deliver therapeutic services to a client on waiting list to see a human therapist (be it a psychologist or a psychiatrist) due to the 3 – 4 months wait time. The ‘data’ being fed into the AI therapist, the algorithms to be followed and the process to alert a human mental health professionals must be carefully planned and implemented. Rigorous research evidence to support the use of AI in clinical setting must be obtained before it could be rolled out. We are dealing with the most vulnerable group of people requiring mental health services. Apparently, the current version of Chat-GPT 4.0 has been ‘fed’ data from a wide range of books and documents equivalent of a human being continuously reading for 47 years! 

Bibi was the first PhD graduate of the Black Dog Institute since it was established in 2002 (used to be the Mood Disorder Unit of Prince of Wales Hospital)

The future of a blended model of care (human assisted by AI) seems to be the way forward. I attended a recent ‘Digital Mental Health Policy Forum’ hosted by the Black Dog Institute (BDI). When 80 participants attending the forum were asked about what kind of model of care will they be confident to adopt, close to 80% chose blended care. However, I have doubts on how to feed ‘empathy’ into AI to boost its EQ? Human must use AI wisely and ethically to maximise benefits and minimise harm.

While everyone was excited about what new technology like AI may advance mankind, researchers at BDI reminded us of a “Harvard Study of Adult Development’ which followed their participants for 85 years. The key findings point to a piece of golden advice: ‘Social Fitness (embracing relationships and connections) will give you a long and healthy life’. To me, growing up in a collectively oriented culture like Hong Kong, this is just common sense. Embracing a community spirit to support each other through thin or thick is the key to a happy life. However, these relationships must be nurtured, i.e. quality is of utmost importance. My next question is HOW & HOW OFTEN? I guess there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ formula for every relationship. Prof Robert Waldinger (Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development) explained,

 “Social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. Those socially connected to family, friends and community are happier and they’re physically healthier and they live longer. The quality of your close relationships matters. Good close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. .. Good relationships not just protect our bodies but also our brains.”

Imagine ‘social fitness’ can be trained like going to a gym’s weight-training session to build muscle strength. The first step is to take stock of your relationships. Click here to find out more. Good Luck!

Think of this exercise as an X-ray – a tool that helps
you see below the surface of your social universe.

Note: you might have noticed the Book Review in this issue is co-written by Bibi and Chat-GPT!


Subscriber’s Corner

Winning entry of the

MOSAIC Multicultural Centre 30th Anniversary Celebrations – ‘MOSAIC Magic Competition

by Sherman Lau

The secret behind MOSAIC’s success is that the staff, volunteers, and participants all put their concerted efforts to join in various activities that are managed by MOSAIC.

They help MOSAIC promote social cohesion and harmony across Willoughby.  MOSAIC has been very successful in providing a diverse community with accessible programs for learning and social connection.

Sherman and his better half Janet attending a performance by the teacher of the Cantonese Opera. A class offered by the Mosaic Multicultural Centre.

I am currently enrolled in the Cantonese Opera Class and the Taiwanese Folk Dance; I do enjoy very much while the classes are in session.  I especially appreciate the parade of Spring Festival on 2 September 2023 whereas I was one of the two classmates who held the banner that displayed “Chatswood Cantonese Opera”.

Multiculturalism, commitment, participation, enthusiasm, learning, and social connection are the elements of MOSAIC’s success.

Success belongs to the committed Willoughby residents who enthusiastically participate in the spectrum of MOSIAC’s multicultural activities for learning, and for connecting people.

I wish that MOSAIC keep the momentum and continue to be successful in the days ahead.


An exhibition in Canberra

Voyage – Experience the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings of Southeast Asia at National Museum of Australia.

Sculptures at the National Museum of Australia
A distorted reality! (photo credit: Bibi)


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.

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