This award category is proudly presented by ZEST Event Sponsor – Western Sydney MRC.
- Must be a group where the majority of members are volunteers.
- Must provide examples of extraordinary community activities undertaken by group members i.e. community advocacy and action.
Gamarada Indigenous Healing and Life Training
The Gamarada Indigenous Healing and Life Training Pty Ltd is a charity organisation established in Western Sydney in June 2018. Developed in response to the need for culturally-sensitive healing and life skills programs – targeting family violence, addiction and suicide prevention -the group provides therapeutic and educational healing and life training programs in the indigenous community. Independently validated by UNSW, Gamarada functions to improve access to justice, education and health care. In 2010, Gamarada was recognised by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet with an Excellence Award for Building Leadership in Indigenous Communities. The program and its volunteers have established a substantial network of collaborators, demonstrating excellence in culturally safe coaching, education, training and community engagement.
Afghan Women on The Move
Afghan Women on The Move is a group of volunteer women, both Afghan and non-Afghan. This organisation advocates for women’s voices, providing a platform of support and empowerment through culture and educational programs. The group is linked with women from around the globe via Facebook, with more than 2000 followers. In 2018, an exhibition called Daneha (Seeds) was held in Blacktown Arts Centre, showing artworks that explored the challenges faced by these women, including how they became the victims of war and domestic and public violence, which was followed by Afghan tea and a live theatrical performance. Women were also encouraged to contribute a quote to a collation of powerful messages.
al-Muntada (Iraqi Australian University Graduates Forum)
Since 2008, the volunteer-run organisation al-Muntada (Iraqi Australian University Graduates Forum) has been working in the Western Sydney Iraqi community, promoting cultural and educational activities, building the capacities of young Iraqi people in the community and engaging with the broader Australian public. The group are recent recipients of the Settlement Services International (SSI’s) Community Innovation Fund (CIF) which supports projects assisting people from newly-arrived refugee backgrounds. Projects include Iraqi Folklorama workshops, for newcomers to learn traditional folkloric dance and music, the annual Iraqi Cultural Festival and delivery of events, including a Refugee Week celebration, the Aljawahiri and Alnawab poetry festivals, and an annual International Women’s Festival.
Blackheath Community Farm
Blackheath Community Farm was launched in February 2016 with fundraising and donations from its volunteers, on land provided by the Mountains Christian College. The farm has grown a strong and diverse community who meet every Sunday and learn principles of permaculture and horticulture, avoid supermarket dependence, and grow their own environmentally sustainable produce from heritage seeds. Members range from 14 to 74 years, including young parents and Asian migrants who had been isolated before joining the Farm. Together, they have created a thriving food garden complete with greenhouse and wildlife-proof enclosure. The farm continues to counter social isolation by attracting new members through an active social media presence and events.