Newsletter October 2023

Mental Health Month – We ALL have a role to play!

RUOK Week Pop-up Stall outside Little Giant Roaster Cafe on Sat 9/9/23

These beautiful Daffodil arrangements were featured in the August Petal-it-Forward Campaign


Youth Mentoring Program

Climate Action Art Competition 2023

“CFS is turning 4! Let’s celebrate in style! You’re invited to join Bibi and TEAM CFS at StreetWork’s Annual Fundraising ‘Glam and Grunge’ Dinner on Friday, October 20th. CFS has booked 2 tables. If you are interested, please DM (Direct Message) Bibi so she can get more tickets.


Sat 14 OctoberMental Health Month Pop-up Stall 9 am – 1 pm (outside Little Giant Roaster Café, 525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby)

Sat 19 October Reimagining Leadership : ‘Are we the ones we’ve been waiting for?’ | Humanitix

The CFS Social Impact Consultant Rabia Khan and her colleagues are presenting a workshop on ‘Reimagining Leadership’. Use the coupon code SECNA to get a 15 % off. This workshop is best suited for: 1. Current or emerging leaders (by title or otherwise) across industries and sectors. 2. Someone who is ready for deep conversations about reimagining leadership. 3. People who want to make change, wherever they are and whatever they do.

Sun 22 October CFS Bushwalk of the Oct – The coastal walk from Freshwater Beach to South Curl Curl Beach is very scenic with blue sky and big waves along a rocky coastline between the 2 beaches. You will see from a distance the full view of Sydney’s famous Manly Beach. With some luck, you may find sea creatures enjoying the swimming in rock pools created by the last high tide. Take off your shoes and take a mindfulness walk on the sand from South Curl Curl Life Saving Club to North Curl Curl Beach! Embrace Nature and boost your mental well-being.

Thurs 26 October – SECNA Meetup #12. October is Mental Health Month and  NSW Small Business Month. Louise Tran (OzHarvest), James Humpherson (Humanitix) and Ravi Prasad (Parliament on King) will dive into the topic of Resilience. Our three panellists will explore how social entrepreneurs can prepare for the unexpected, navigate challenges and secure the future of their enterprises. If you are a member of the CFS Youth Action Group and interested to attend, please let Bibi know. CFS will sponsor your tickets. SECNA Monthly Meetup #12: Resilience | Humanitix

Sat 28 October – Fundraising BBQ at Chatswood Bunnings Warehouse

Three Creative Workshops by Young People for Young People during Oct/Nov. Online registrations are now open.

Tues 3 October Colour-Sand Glass Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre from 1 pm to 3 pm (fully booked).

Sat 7 October Succulent Terrarium Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre from 1 pm to 3 pm (fully booked).

Thurs 2 November – FAME Workshop

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 on 2 Nov. 2023. Their students escaped from all kinds of slavery to settle down in Sydney. We received a generous donation of $400 last month to sponsor this workshop. 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 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

Sat 11 November Beat the X’mas Blues Pop-up Stall from 9 am to 1 pm (outside Little Giant Roaster Café, 525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby)

Sun 19 November – CFS Bushwalk of the Nov – Custome House to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

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

Reflections on Past Events

Bibi spoke at the SECNA Meetup on Mentoring, held at the South Eveleigh Community Hub on September 6th. Her speech, shared in the column ‘From the Desk of Bibi’ of this issue, delved into her diverse career experiences, emphasizing her qualifications to offer career advice. Despite nervousness during the presentation, Bibi found support from fellow CFS members—Geoff (CFS Secretary), Anthony, Jaydon, and Thea—who provided emotional encouragement.

The event featured two other speakers. Adam Long, known for leadership in software and ethical business practices, shared insights into his role as The Ethical CEO. Adam’s entrepreneurial ventures, such as ThunderLabs and Conscious Step (a sock brand raising over $1 million for charity), showcased his commitment to purpose-led businesses. His LinkedIn profile can be explored here:

Vivi Aguiar from 2bHuman was another speaker, expressing her purpose to support organizations in creating healthier environments where employees can thrive. Her focus includes fostering a sense of belonging, connection, and clarity of purpose among individuals, teams, and leaders, promoting mutual growth and shared experiences. Vivi’s LinkedIn profile is accessible at The event was a diverse and enriching experience, bringing together different perspectives on mentoring and professional growth.

9th Sept RUOK Week Pop-up Stall was well minded by CFS’ young members. Our valued customers appreciated the ‘Petal-it-Forward’ to start a conversation that could potentially change someone’s life.

14th Sept RUOK Day BBQ at South Eveleigh Community Hub

14th Sept Launch of Laughter Yoga Fortnightly Program at Chatswood Dougherty Community Centre

Jaydon, a new member kindly shot this video for CFS. Bibi discussed with participants some positive events that happened last week. The group ‘mimed the events out with laughter. We also discussed stressful events and resolved the negative emotions with laugher.

16th Sept Two-Creek Walk and Picnic at Echo Point Park, Roseville ChaseClos

23rd Sept FAME (Floral Arrangements Made Easy) Workshop at Chatswood Youth Centre

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

Sweet Williams

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Sweet Williams,

Sweet Williams, scientifically known as Dianthus barbatus, are charming and vibrant flowers that can add a touch of elegance to any garden or floral arrangement. They are the ‘cousins’ of Carnations. Both are classic blooms in an English Garden. With their clusters of small, fragrant blooms, they are a favourite among gardeners and flower enthusiasts alike. I’m amazed at the varieties of colours found in the same cluster.

Sweet Williams are relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for both novice and experienced gardeners. According to The Spruce’s growing guide, these flowers thrive in well-drained soil with a slightly alkaline pH. It’s essential to provide them with full sunlight, although they can tolerate partial shade. Regular watering is crucial, especially during dry spells, to keep the soil consistently moist. When it comes to fertilizing, a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer applied in the spring can promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. Deadheading spent flowers not only maintains a tidy appearance but also encourages continuous blooming throughout the season.

Vase Life: Sweet Williams are not only a delight in the garden but also make stunning additions to floral arrangements. The cut flowers have an impressive vase life, lasting up to two weeks or more with proper care. To maximize their longevity, cut the stems at a 45-degree angle and place them in a clean vase with fresh water. Change the water regularly and remove any submerged leaves to prevent bacterial growth.

Fun Facts: Sweet Williams have a rich history and cultural significance. The flowers are believed to have been named after William, Duke of Cumberland, in the 18th century. They are often associated with gallantry and finesse, making them a popular choice in bouquets expressing admiration and gratitude. In the language of flowers, Sweet Williams symbolize sincerity and perfection, adding a layer of sentiment to any arrangement. Their diverse colour palette, including shades of pink, red, and white, allows for creative and personalized floral designs.

Kate Middelton added Sweet William to her wedding bouquet to pay a tribute to her husband Prince William. This is indeed very sweet!

In summary, Sweet Williams are not just beautiful blooms—they are resilient, versatile, and steeped in tradition. Whether gracing a garden bed or adorning a vase, these flowers bring joy and elegance wherever they bloom.

Sweet Williams: tips for propagation

Plant of the Month

Crocodile Fern

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Unveiling the Mystique of Crocodile Ferns

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

Crocodile ferns (Microsorum musifolium) are captivating botanical wonders that add a touch of the exotic to any indoor garden. Originating from Southeast Asia, these ferns have earned their unique name due to the striking pattern on their fronds, resembling the scaly skin of a crocodile. The crocodile fern is an epiphytic terrestrial fern – it grows up trees in the wild where it’s shaded by the tree’s canopy.  Beyond their aesthetic appeal, these ferns are surprisingly resilient and adaptable, making them an ideal choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.

What a coincidence to have this crocodile skin pattern on a fern!

Crocodile ferns thrive in indirect light, making them perfect for spaces with filtered sunlight or partial shade. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as it can scorch their delicate fronds. These ferns prefer consistently moist soil. Water them when the top inch of the soil feels slightly dry. Ensure good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Hailing from tropical regions, Crocodile ferns appreciate high humidity levels. Mist the foliage regularly or place a tray filled with water and pebbles near the plant to create a humid microenvironment.

This is the natural habitat of Crocodile ferns..

Maintain a warm environment, ideally between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Protect the fern from drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations. Use a well-draining, peat-based potting mix to ensure adequate aeration for the roots.

Overwatering can be a real threat for the crocodile fern, causing fungal problems such as root rot. If you notice that the leaves turn yellow, then soft and brown, take the fern out of the pot and inspect the roots.

Some serious fern growers will humidify the air to provide ferns with optimal growing environment.

Here are some fun facts:

1. Ancient Origins: Crocodile ferns are part of an ancient plant family that dates back over 300 million years, adding a touch of prehistoric allure to your indoor space.

2. Air Purifiers: like many ferns, Crocodile ferns are excellent natural air purifiers. They help remove toxins from the air, promoting a healthier indoor environment.

3. Resilient Survivors: these ferns have evolved to withstand periods of drought, making them forgiving for forgetful or busy plant owners.

4. Unique Frond Patterns: the distinctive crocodile-like pattern on their fronds is not only eye-catching but also serves a purpose. It helps these ferns camouflage in their natural habitats, providing them with a survival advantage.

Summary of crocodile Fern Care instructions.

Incorporating Crocodile ferns into your indoor garden not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also brings a piece of the tropics into your living space. With proper care and appreciation for their unique qualities, these ferns can thrive and become a conversation starter in any plant collection.

Watch this YouTube for some propagation demo from Sean. He is one of my favourite gardeners on YouTube:

Recipe of the Month

Low-fat Turkey Mince Patties

by Bibi

I took some turkey mince patties to share with other walks at the Bushwalk of Sept. Everyone seemed to enjoy this low-fat dish. I share my recipe here with the CFS community.


– 250 g turkey mince

– 1 small red onion, diced and a few stalks of spring onion or coriander

– 1 egg 

– 200 g breadcrumbs (for coating)

Seasoning for Turkey Mince:

  – 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

  – 1/4 teaspoon salt

  – 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  – 1 teaspoon sugar

  – 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

  – 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce

  – 2 teaspoons corn flour


1. In a bowl, combine turkey mince with oregano, salt, minced garlic, sugar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and corn flour. Mix well and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Dice the red onion and spring onion/coriander and add it to the seasoned turkey mince.

 3. Crack an egg into the mixture and thoroughly combine all ingredients.

4.  Divide the turkey mixture into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a ball and coat it with breadcrumbs.

5.  Using a wooden spoon, flatten each turkey ball into a patty shape. Ensure the coating sticks well.

6.  Preheat your air fryer. Place the coated turkey patties in the preheated air fryer.

7. Cook for 15 minutes, flipping the patties halfway through to ensure even cooking.

 8. Once the patties are golden brown and cooked through, remove them from the air fryer. Serve hot or cold, paired with a refreshing salad.

Book Review

By Kim Wilkins

The German Girl

by Armando Lucas Correa.

This book, written by this well-known Cuban born author, was an incredible best seller when published in 2016, selling over one million copies. It explores 2 intriguing ideas. The first is based around the ill-fated trip of the German passenger liner, St Louis, sailing from Germany in 1939 to Cuba, just before the outbreak of World War 2. It was full of hundreds of Jewish families, fleeing Nazi Germany. The Cuban government changed its mind about accepting the refugees, forcing the ship to return to Europe with nearly all its Jewish passengers, who mostly ended up in the death camps of Nazi Europe. Hannah and her mother are 2 of the fortunate few admitted to Cuba.

The second idea is to look at events through the eyes of two 12-year-old girls, seeing, through the first, the horrors of Nazi Germany. Hannah knows what is going on but does not understand why. She and her mother are 2 of the fortunate few allowed to enter Cuba where they remain permanently. The story is told by Hannah and her great grand-daughter, Anna, who lives in New York, so it switches from Hanna’s life from 1939 onwards to 2014 in New York. We also travel through the Castro revolution in Cuba, which the writer also despises.

It is a powerful narrative on the horrors of totalitarian regimes, governments that obtain and keep power by directing hatred against minorities and the often-sad lives of unwanted refugees. Well recommended.

DVD Review

The Denial Tangle is featured in this CD by the group Ecopella. They were formed 25 years ago to raise awareness of climate change. I could identify with the lilacs in this song, especially my firsthand encounter with some climate deniers at last year’s Climate Action Art Exhibition.

It is not too late to enter the 2023 Climate Action Art Competition

Denial. I’m in denial.  Don’t talk to me of independent studies or scientific trial.
 I’m in denial, deep in denial.  And as the waters rise around me, I’ll just hold my breath and say it isn’t so.

Full lilacs are available here .

A list of songs included in this album.

From the Desk of Bibi

How I have been mentored?

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Hi, I’m Bibi, someone who wears multiple hats. I have had many career changes, a speech pathologist, a domestic manager – i.e. stay-home mum, a tele-sale while I studied a master degree, a mental health researcher, a florist and now the founder of a social enterprise ‘The Community Flower Studio’ (CFS). CFS just turned 4. I think I am qualified to give career advice especially on whether to make a drastic career change. Many of my friends sent their children to Auntie Bibi to do volunteer work for CFS. Currently there are 7 high school kids doing their social services at CFS as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. They know that Auntie Bibi will be more like a friend than an auntie for them. Since May 2023, CFS launched our official Youth Mentoring Program to mentor young people via Zoom or in person. Beside me, there are other members available to be mentors. All the details are available on the CFS Home page.

Youth Mentoring Flyer designed by Co-chair of CFS’ Youth Action Group- Jacque S.

When I was a researcher at UNSW, I once was an interviewer to select potential medical students. I signed my life to NOT to disclose any details about the interview. Yet I was asked to give a young person some tips to prepare for the interview for a medical degree at a different university. It was more than a decade ago, yet societal expectations on young Asians cannot be underestimated. can pay for a mock interview at a well-known coaching tutoring place. I think the interview format might have changed over the years. However, one important must-have skill the interviewers are looking for is good communication

When I was a PhD Student at the Black Dog Institute, the former Mood Disorder Unit of UNSW. I was keen to present my research at various national and international conferences. I once introduced myself as someone who has studied an Applied Science and an Applied Arts degree, so I mixed my skills together in my PhD research methodology – a quantitative and qualitative research. It was the inaugural Qualitative Research Conference at University Illinois in 2005. Both logical deductions and thinking outside of the square is important.

In my training as a speech pathologist. It also taught me a lesson in compassion and how to support people with a wide spectrum of ability. All the clinical supervisors I came across during my training could ‘hear’ beyond this young person’s accent and help her develop her potential.  

Young members were mentored to co-facilitate creative workshops with Bibi.

I guess every time I changed careers, I was lucky to ‘run’ into a mentor. Helen Banu, AMO, who is the CEO of StreetWork, took me on her wings. She sat in the CFS committee from day 1. Irene Chung, the CFS Marketing Consultant was like my Voice Coach, she gave me feedback on every FB post and made sure that I put in a CTA (Call to Action). She said, ‘I shall not share your post on my FB unless it is absolutely worth it’’. It took her 18 months to do just that on a post about a flower crown workshop. Haha, I finally graduated! All these mentors have one thing in common. They believe in me. I’m most fortunate to have meet Professor Michael Rose at Yale’s Recovery Centre for Community Health first in 2010 during my Churchill Fellowship. Michael told me that he was very impressed with my presentation at a conference in 2011 at Lyon. He invited me to work on a post-doc study on citizenship with him in 2012. The co-design and co-produce model of the Community Flower Studio is basically an adapted version of Yale’s program.  The goal is to support people with lived experience to be a contributing member of society. CFS’ Vision is to ‘Help Young People Learn Life Skills and Find Meaningful Employment’.

Bibi connects other mentors with our young members..

While I was studying for a Cert 3 in Floristry in 2014, I approached Anni, the owner of a flower shop in Epping to give me a no-paid work experience position. Two months later, one of her part-time florists wanted to cut working hours, so I was asked to fill some of her shifts. I got paid the minimum wage! Hurray! I got one foot into the industry. Annie was very generous in sharing her trade secrets with me. She won ‘Florist of the Year’, awarded by the Sydney Market 2 years in a row. Before she became a florist, she held a senior management role in Malaysia and has an MBA. You never know what someone’s background is especially a migrant!

This is truly my case when I embarked on my journey as a florist at a high-end flower shop at Northbridge, apparently people living in this suburb paid the highest level of income tax in NSW. I talked to lawyers, accountants, specialists etc. The former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was once my regular customer, not her boyfriend though. Sometimes, I get asked a few deeper questions other than the weather.  I never mentioned that I have a PhD in public mental health. They told me they admired my job arranging flowers all day long. Yet they didn’t see how I set my alarm at 4:45 am to get the freshest blooms for the customers. They also don’t feel the pain of the sharp thorns on the rose’s stem because I already bear the pain when I get rid of them. Ooch! My advice for the young people who would like to embark on a dream job, run a reality check first. We often tend to magnify the rosy side of things. However, there are always 2 sides of a coin. Grab a piece of paper, draw a line in the middle. Jolt down the pros and cons and try to be objective when you are weighing upon each one then adjusts your expectations.

In summary, if you are looking for a mentor, look for someone who believes in you. That person will support you to realise your dream.   

This workshop is a typical example of a young CFS member co-facilitate a workshop with Bibi. The workshop was co-designed and co-produced by the team with Bibi as a mentor.

This workshop is a typical example of a young CFS member co-facilitate a workshop with Bibi. Similar workshops were co-designed and co-produced by the team with Bibi as a mentor.


Subscriber’s Corner

Customer Review: Presentation bouquets from the CFS Flower Shop by Janet Lau

Rating: 5/5 stars for quality, service, presentation and value for money.

Janet with the recipients of the bouquets she ordered.

I made an online order for 2 large presentation bouquets from the CFS Flower Shop on behalf of my classmates at the Cantonese Opera Class of the Willoughby Council’s Mosaic Multicultural Centre. The 2 bouquets were a gift to our dedicated teacher, Ms May Tse, and a talented classmate, Mr Ringo Cheung, for a successful opera performance at the 2023 Sun Sing Mid-Autumn Festival (traditional Chinese moon festival) Cantonese Opera at the Marana Auditorium in Hurstville. We presented a rose bouquet to Ms Tse and a native bouquet to Mr Cheung amidst the audience’s applause. People enthusiastically complimented the beautiful bouquets!

I found the ordering process was simple and fast. Dr Bibi was happy to discuss my needs and budget for the 2 bouquets before I placed the order. Overall, I had a wonderful experience due to Dr Bibi’s professional floristry, use of fresh flowers, client-focused service and value for money. 

This Native Bouquet featured the rare Blue Kangaroo Paws

If you are thinking about buying flowers for a friend (or anyone else), I would highly recommend ordering them from the CFS Flower Shop! You won’t be disappointed! Also, the CFS Flower Shop is a registered charity and not-for-profit social enterprise, so the proceeds help young people find meaningful employment. Thus, not only will you get a gorgeous bouquet, but you will be contributing towards a good cause!


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

Like us on Facebook:Community Flower Studio Inc. Instagram: communityflowerstudio

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

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