Latest News


SBS Arabic Radio Interview - Empowering Women Program

POSTED: 11th February 2020 SOURCE: SBS Arabic Radio 05th February 2020

Sana Al-Ahmar discussses Focus Connects services and programs, including the Butterfly Program.

(This audio is copyright to SBS)

Program: SBS Arabic Radio Interviewer: Manal Al - Ani Interviewee: Sana Al-Ahmar Duration: 6:57

Chinese new year 2020 1

Chinese Aged Social Support Group Celebrates Chinese New Year

POSTED: 29th January 2020

Saturday, 25 January 2020 - Year of the Rat.

Chinese New Year is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is based on a mythical beast, Nian. The people used the colour red and firecrackers to scare away the beast. Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. The festival was traditionally a time to honour deities as well as ancestors.

It is traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house. Deep cleaning your home before Chinese New Year is important for two reasons: relatives are coming, but also it’s believed to cleanse the home of all the previous year’s negative energy.

It is tradition to use red coloured paper-cuts outs on windows and doors that symbolize longevity, wealth, happiness, and good fortune. The most popular character is the word “fortune” [福].

Children, colleagues and family receive ornate envelopes with various amounts of money from parents, grandparents, and customers respectively, along with blessings and grand wishes of a prosperous and healthy New Year. The amount is traditionally an even number, not divisible by four since it symbolizes death.

It’s believed that all outstanding bills owed to friends and family should be paid before the Chinese New Year, so debt is not carried over into the New Year.

Chinese believe that crying on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year will result in sad times for the remainder of the year. It is also poor form to start the New Year by swearing, getting upset or losing your cool.

On the last day of Chinese New Year, called Lantern Day, everyone walks along the street carrying paper lanterns. This is supposed to light the way for the New Year. The highlight of the Lantern Festival is the Dragon Dance. Beautiful dragons made of paper, silk and bamboo are held overhead, and appear to dance as they make their way along the parade routes.

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner

Chinese families gather for the annual reunion dinner. Chinese New Year food is a key ingredient to the most important holiday of the year. The food is at the center of celebrations bringing family together to exchange gifts, reminisce and look forward to the New Year. Eating the right food could mean prosperity in the New Year, while the wrong food could misfortune. Most traditional Chinese New Year foods is served because their name sounds like another word meaning happiness, wealth or good fortune. Other foods are chosen because they resemble gold or money.

Whole Fish (abundance, prosperity)
The Chinese word for fish sounds like the Chinese word for “surplus.” Fish is typically served whole at the end of the meal as a sign of surplus at the end of the year. The surplus is seen as an important factor to making more next year.

Broccoli or Cauliflower (riches)
Broccoli or cauliflower dishes are served because of the stalks. Each stalk symbolizes a blossoming new year.

Noodles (longevity)
The length of noodles represent longevity, but don’t cut them or you will be cutting your life short.

Shrimp – Happiness
In Chinese, the word for “shrimp” is pronounced “ha.” Because it sounds like laughter, shrimp is served symbolizing a happy year ahead.

Jiaozi or Chinese dumplings – prosperity
Chinese dumplings are classic Chinese New Year food, typically enjoyed on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Oranges/tangerines – wealth
Oranges are a popular symbol of good luck because of the similarity of the words “orange” and “luck” in Chinese. They are also a great gift for the host if you are attending a Chinese New Year’s dinner.

Spring Rolls – wealth
Spring rolls’ are Chinese New Year food for wealth. Their cylindrical shape resembles gold bars.

Sweets – sweet life in the New Year
A popular Chinese New Year sweet is the Glutinous Rice Cake (“Nian gao” in Chinese). The sweetness of the cake symbolizes a sweet, rich life. The cake’s layers symbolize abundance in the New Year.

Submitted by Cecilia Vera, Aged Care Services Manager


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Campbelltown macarthur advertiser 04122019

Helping to Make Connections

POSTED: 11th December 2019 SOURCE: Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser 04th December 2019

Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative may have changed it's name to FOCUS Connect but it is still the same organisation that has been supporting Macarthur's local community for more than 35 years.

Minimising “the odds” in Camden

POSTED: 10th December 2019

Sometimes what can start off as fun, can become a bigger problem than what we first expect.

Problem gambling affects an estimated 3% of the Australian population and can often lead to financial, relationship, mental health and other issues. In light of this, the Office of Responsible Gambling is funding a Gambling Harm Minimisation project in the Camden LGA. The project will be in partnership with Focus Connect and Camden Council. The project aims to promote greater public awareness of the social issues surrounding problem gambling in the community. It also aims to inform community members of referral pathways and resources to support them through their situation. Make sure you keep an eye out for education sessions, workshops, and activities lined up for 2020!

Media Release: Introducing Focus Connect

POSTED: 22nd November 2019

At its AGM on Thursday, 31/10/2019 Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative Ltd (MDSI) announced a new name, new logo and new look.

Over the last 18-months, Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative (MDSI) has undergone consultations with our clients, families, community and external partners to understand what they thought of our brand and what we represented to them.

The results were compelling. Our clients were happy and appreciative of the work we do and our staff are happy, however many were confused by our name, what we stood for and our unique standing in the community sector.

As a result, we have been working hard in the background to redevelop our brand look and feel to ensure we are reflective of the changing needs of our community and ensure our values are at the forefront of everything we do.

We think our new name aptly reflects what we do, ‘giving people the support they need, when they need it’; and showcases our ‘focus on individual quality care’, whilst ‘encouraging community connections’

The rebrand is a physical representation of our growth of services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), our multicultural grassroots and an increased focus on providing innovative services. It is also reflects the journey we have been on over the last few years, expanding services beyond the Macarthur region.

Focus Connect will work under three departments: Focus Connect Aged Care, Focus Connect Community and Focus Connect Disability.

Whilst we have a new name, there will be no changes to our programs or services we currently provide.  

You will start to see the new brand rolled out over documentation, brochures, signage and our transport fleet shortly.

If you have any questions, lease contact us on 02 4627 1188, or 


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St patricks newsletter article snip

Article: St Patrick’s College Welcome Dinner

POSTED: 22nd November 2019 SOURCE: Inside Out

On the evening of Tuesday 19 November, St Patrick’s College hosted a Welcome Dinner for migrants and refugees who have recently arrived and settled in the Campbelltown area.


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Nsw volunteer of the year 2019

NSW Volunteer Of The Year Awards 2019

POSTED: 23rd September 2019

Volunteers from across South Western Sydney recognised for their outstanding contribution to volunteering at a special ceremony in Campbelltown.

The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards is an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering which has grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across the country. The ceremony recognises the enormous contribution volunteers make to their local communities and is a way to say thank you for their dedication and commitment.

MDSI congratulates all award recipients and our Volunteers, Robert Scorsone and Sawsan Wahba, who represented MDSI's Aged Care Team at the South Western Sydney/ Macarthur region ceremony held on the 17th of September 2019.

There is incredible value in being of service to others. Volunteers make a difference, thank you for caring. 

Networks That Work

POSTED: 03rd September 2019

Mentoring for Employment for Refugees and Migrants in Macarthur.


A group of partner agencies in Macarthur have commenced a project to increase employment opportunities for local refugees, humanitarian entrants and migrants.

We know there are many barriers to these community members gaining long term, stable employment. They include:

  • Language barriers
  • Lack of skill recognition
  • Lack of local experience
  • Lack of professional networks

That is why we are initiating a mentoring project, where experienced staff or business owners across a range of employment areas will be invited to offer their skills and experience to mentor a community member who wants to increase their employability.


We are looking for volunteer mentors now. You will be offered 2 hours of training in what is required of a mentor, and how to go about supporting a mentee.

You will be expected to offer 8 one hour weekly sessions to the mentee, who will be carefully matched to you.


We need volunteer mentors now, but the program and training will commence early in 2020. Applications are due by 15 November 2019.


The project partners are:

  • Macarthur Diversity Services Initiative (MDSI)
  • Campbelltown City Council
  • Department of Human Services (DHS)
  • Department of Social Services (DSS)

If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact:

Sana Al-Ahmar

P. 02 46271188

M. 0419 751 552



Nsp article august 2019-2


POSTED: 03rd September 2019 SOURCE: NSW Settlement Partnership (NSP) News 01st August 2019

Driving boosts work, study and life options.

Dr mike freelander


POSTED: 13th August 2019

Letter of congratulations to MDSI and Kenneally's Funerals for running the 2019 Claymore Child & Family Blanket Drive.

DOWNLOADS Letter from dr mike freelander mp 07082019

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Apr 2021

Cook N Chat

Sharing recipes, stories & culture over a plate of food.

9:30am to 9:30am
127 Dumaresq Street, Campbelltown

May 2021

Cook N Chat

Sharing recipes, stories & culture over a plate of food.

9:30am to 9:30am
127 Dumaresq Street, Campbelltown

May 2021

Cook N Chat

Sharing recipes, stories & culture over a plate of food.

9:30am to 9:30am
127 Dumaresq Street, Campbelltown