your #Hawkesbury stories

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Pictured: Uncle Greg Simms

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ANNOUNCEMENT:                                      15/9/2019
Media for good is here.
The Diverse Hawkesbury project closed at the end of 2018.
DH Project Co-ordinator Rozzie Chia is now the Creative Director of Monotreme Media. Don't worry - the wealth of local stories generated by the Diverse Hawkesbury project will remain here for you to enjoy and learn from, for FREE! Just click on "Videos and Articles" to browse back through them all.
As for the new project:

We have a cracking creative team who are building Monotreme's first-ever print magazine right now.
Best of all is the fact that this magazine is modelled towards creating supported and properly-paid work for locals who live with disability, including mental illness.
Head to to find out more.
We are welcoming sponsors and grants right now, and to be included in the magazine, you need to jump on board by Oct 31. For your business (including community sector orgs wishing to advertise to a receptive and sympathetic readership) there is no better goodwill in the region than that generated by your association with Monotreme. 
Have you missed the October 31 deadline?
No problemo! Monotreme Digital is a rapidly-growing free online community news source that locals are checking out more and more each day. You'd be surprised how great the value is for such easy-to-reach exposure.
Why not hop to it, and be part of media that heals today?
Go to Monotreme Media
by clicking here.
Project Closed. Awww.

That's right, good friends. The Diverse Hawkesbury project is no longer taking interview requests, because we're winding up! You may have noticed that there's been very little content since last November. That's because I was very sick and in intensive care with pneumonia. I'm slowly recovering (taking the Christmas holidays I kinda never got!) and all is well!

Still, the project must end so that I can go on to new things. The reality is that I'm a single mum and life without an income is becoming increasingly stressful. 

The good news is:

1) There's still a whole lotta content to be released, which was recorded last year and is yet to be edited.

2) There will be a NEW WEBSITE COMING SOON, so stay tuned. Keep in touch with the Diverse Hawkesbury Facebook page or Twitter account to be alerted when the new project "drops", as the young folk say.

3) Your story might be relevant to the new project and I can probably still help get your news out there. Contact me via the contact form (in the above tab) to let me know what your idea is, and let's see if we can work together to achieve our shared goals.

4) You can still help me recover the money I spent to bring this project to life. Head to the DH Shop (in the tabs above) and purchase a hat or sticker. It's REALLY appreciated, especially at the moment while I'm still recovering from illness and not working. THANK YOU! 

Most of all, I want to thank everyone who has taken part and followed along as the stories expanded and took on lives of their own. I want to thank HDI News, and all the NFP orgs who saw exactly what I was doing to serve the people of my community, and jumped right on board to work with me. I want to thank anyone who donated to make the lives of disadvantaged locals a little less stressful, even if just for that day.

If you stole my ideas for your newspaper, thank you too. What a lovely compliment! Whatever ends in local media being far more aware of who their community really is...

I want to thank Tracey Baglin and Andy Carr; Paul and Cathy Bannister, Nicky Kirkham and my gorgeous supportive partner, as well as everyone else who sponsored the project in any way, big or small. I want to thank Hawkesbury City Council and Northcott. 


If you talked about the stories and had a think about the reality of who we are as a community, you're the one I want to thank personally, even if we've never met. That was the aim of the project, and I believe that together we achieved that aim. I've loved being stopped on the street to talk about the issues that affect you; this was particularly true of seniors and youth. This is the way people work together to build (or rebuild) community. This is how we stay strong and resilient. Keep talking, keep sharing. Talk to people you disagree with. Talk to people you'd otherwise not hang out with. Just keep relating and remembering that we are more human than we are different. Never stop. You're awesome.


I'll see you out there. 


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
What a year! It's been so great to work with all sorts of Hawkesbury locals to create some in-depth and thought-provoking content, and I'm as blown away as you are that 2018 is now drawing to a close! What a crazy, amazing year, and what a great stash of stories we've collected together! Have a fantastic holiday break and thanks for sharing the ride that has been the Diverse Hawkesbury project!
Share the Journey - DH Podcasts
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Hawkesbury Wellness Day

Hear a little about my own perspectives on mental health, and some thoughts on the concept of "wellness", as we move well into Mental Health Month and look ahead to a fanastic new event happening on Tuesday at Richmond Park! 

NEW: YouTalk Episode 3: "Listen, Learn".
Meet Jon, Harry, Michael, Roy and Alley.

Many adults on the spectrum will tell you that when they are researching and talking about their special interest, they feel good. In talking about their special interest - even if they are "talking at" someone about it - it's a way of socialising that rarely involves social "scripts" or "masking" because it's a topic that brings them great joy, and doesn't require them to make smalltalk; a pastime that they often find incredibly tedious and futile... or simply beyond their socio-emotional and sensory scope. All the other person needs to do is be able to quickly identify the kind of conversation they're having - even with a stranger - and understand the different approach required. That's why I decided to do the YouTalk series as a huge component of my body of work with the Diverse Hawkesbury project. There are many, many articles out there in social media and in the news that attempt to educate about how these conversations should go, but when was the last time you actually participated in a conversation like this? How else are we all supposed to learn the true practical craft of inclusion?

Riverstone Multicultural Mums Support Group
SydWest Multicultural Services 

This is a group of mums and kids from many cultural backgrounds who gather each Friday at 10am to socialise and support one another. It's a new service offered by Sydwest Multicultural Services. For more information about this and other services offered by SydWest, hit their website at (link opens in a new window).

Do you like this video and wish to see more like it? Let's form a group of supporters at the Patreon page. For only a tiny regular contribution, you can keep this thing going.

What happens when Hawkesbury businesses open their employment and training opportunities to local residents who live with disability?

Magic. That's what.


Sunday 15 July

Did a little bird tell you there are promo codes just for our listers? That little bird was right! Starting TODAY, you can access promo codes if you're one of the supporters on the mailing list. All you need to do is join up and I'll be hitting that inbox occasionally with sweet specials. Easy!

Diverse Hawkesbury Heads for the Hills

That's right, folks! Thanks to the beautiful people at HDI News, I will now be expanding my adventures slightly citywards to explore the same kinds of human stories in the very first place I lived between 1980 and 1989 - the Hills District! These stories will be published in the Diverse Hills column in every issue of the Hills District Independent Magazine. This is of course the sister mag to the Hawkesbury District Independent, where you already see me every month. Click here to go to the page.

Angus Lillie: Urban Farmer
Find him on Insta: @thePlot17

As part of National Youth Week I wanted to ensure I threw something out there to (again) show our wider community just how much wisdom and insight our local young people have to offer. I really didn't have to look far. In fact, I didn't have to look at all. As it turns out, one of my own teenager's best mates has a great story to share, and a message that he demonstrates not only with words but in his commitment to building something his entire neighbourhood can enjoy.

Young People of the Hawkesbury on the DSP.
I had a chat to Libby Hyett (Cattai) and Simon Griffin (South Windsor) last week to hear their perspectives on what it's like to live on the Disability Support Pension, otherwise known as the "DSP".
This 21-minute mini-doco is a little snapshot of their lives. They describe their current circumstances and their goals. It was a great way to educate the community about the lives of locals who get by on the DSP, as well as challenging stereotypes about the kind of person we may think of if we think of locals on low incomes.
Fun with Prickly Pears at Psaila Farm

I recently visited the Psailas who live in Londonderry, and have tended their acreage there since purchasing it in 1973. They are originally from Malta and were so open and generous in sharing their story. Not only that - they were also incredibly patient and indulged me in my curious questions about the prickly pear cactus that is such a common sight on the properties of Maltese farmers. I was so curious to know what the fruits of prickly pear cacti taste like and how they're prepared. I also wanted to learn the history behind characteristically Maltese crops like prickly pear and carob, and Fred sure didn't disappoint!


exploring the diversity of the Hawkesbury region together.

Challenging stereotypes, misinformation and prejudice.

The Diverse Hawkesbury project is about using a positive, interactive and constructive narrative to break down the structures that support prejudice and discrimination.

Often, the clash between opinions can become negative and damaging to the community's social equilibrium, especially on social media.

This project aims to lead with positivity and a firm objective to educate and advocate.

If you are a teacher and find my resources useful, please contact me and provide feedback on the reasons why you used it and how I may better produce my content for educational purposes.

New Stories:

The use of free and easily accessible oral history videos to view, share and discuss serves multiple purposes:

humanising groups


examining and breaking down stereotypes


​correcting misinformation


​representing underrepresented groups

Adding dimension to previously-recorded history of the Hawkesbury district

balancing Eurocentric narrative


​bringing the community to those for whom access or social settings can be difficult


​can be used as an educational resource anywhere, anytime​


​stimulating discussion between viewers on social media or in the media

providing local information for children and teens to develop local knowledge beyond the school syllabus

giving a firsthand account of life for an individual with a chronic illness or different level of ability

celebrating the lives and achievements of Australians living in the Hawkesbury

encourages critical thought instead of prejudice to form impressions of others

I'm hoping to hear from the following kinds of people in the future:

  • People of diverse cultural backgrounds

  • Darug men, women and teens

  • Foster carers and their families

  • Gender-diverse people of all ages

  • Rainbow families

  • People of diverse religious faiths

  • RAAF personnel of diverse backgrounds

  • Students of diverse backgrounds

  • High school students

  • People with varying levels of ability, mobility and neurodiversity, and their carers/families

  • People who live with chronic illness

  • Disability support workers

  • Seniors

  • Volunteers

  • Domestic violence survivors

  • Social workers

We acknowledge the Dharug people as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We acknowledge the Elders, both past and present.

SPONSORSHIP is a social project that does not make a profit. You can help keep it going by contributing any amount below, and your name or business name will be included on the "Supporters" page and social media, no matter how much or how little you give. :)

If you are a local business who provides opportunities for individuals of diverse backgrounds, maybe we can tell your story together and discuss the benefits of a diverse workplace. Get in touch via the "Let's Talk" tab at the top of the page.

Abraham Nassif, Richmond optometrist.

Australian born, of Lebanese descent.



Oral histories are one aspect of presenting the humanity of diverse Australia. Another way is to discuss and investigate current issues and news. You will find oral history videos on this website but you will also find a growing resource of stories about members of our community who may not share their oral history but an aspect of their life that you will find thought-provoking, relevant and interesting.

A relevant definition of diversity can be found by clicking here.



Thanks to FundAbility, LPF Design and of course Distinctive Image Workwear, we now have some super-cool DH Snapback hats available for sale, and because the team behind it has been so kind in their support of the project, I've been able to keep the price way down. At only $18 including postage, they're a steal and a great way to show your support. Hit the DH shop and order your limited edition DH Snapback now.


The project has been selected as the lucky recipient of a NSW Government FundAbility grant of $2390 to be spent on providing representation and advocacy opportunities for Hawkesbury residents living with disability and neurodiversity. This grant will fund a series of four videos and four written articles which educate the wider community on the perspectives of this specific population. Fundability is brought to you by Northcott and funded by Family and Community Services.


From July 2018, Diverse Hills will be a regular column in the Hawkesbury District Independent's sister magazine, the Hills District Independent. In there you'll see all the same kinds of stories but about diverse residents of the Hills District! I can't wait! To check out those stories as they grow, have a look at the Diverse Hills tab at the top menu of this website.


From January 2018, Diverse Hawkesbury will have a column in each issue of the Hawkesbury District Independent mag, outlining current participants in the project and sharing the historical and/or cultural context of their oral histories. Many thanks to Penny (editor of awesomeness) at the HDI for providing such a fantastic opportunity to reach out into our community so regularly.