Community organisations, groups and individuals have been recognised in the 2016 ZEST Awards – four winners from the Parramatta LGA have been announced and two received recognition in their categories as highly commended.

Lord Mayor of Parramatta Cr Paul Garrard said it was great to see so many nominees from the Parramatta LGA with 23 nominees from the region representing 14 out of the 16 categories.

“The huge range of organisations nominated for awards shows that the community sector is really delivering a quality service to the community in Western Sydney. It is important that through these awards we are able shine a light on the remarkable work these individuals and organisations do to improve people’s lives.”

Western Sydney Community Forum’s Chief Executive, Billie Sankovic, thanked leaders from Greater Western Sydney for supporting the extraordinary achievements showcased during last night’s awards.

“The ZEST Awards sees the coming together of key regional leaders within the not-for-profit, government and business sectors – to collectively recognise the strengths of Greater Western Sydney and the outstanding successes that shape the region’s social and economic future” said Sankovic.


Annie Nielsen: Outstanding Community Leader – Volunteer Capacity

Annie Nielsen is a teacher who has lived in the Parramatta LGA for 24 years. She has taught science at various high schools including in Western Sydney, worked on syllabus and co-authored the text book “Science for Life”. Annie’s expertise in biology motivated her to be an outstanding long term volunteer bush regeneration and Clean Up Australia coordinator in the Parramatta LGA. Annie also holds volunteer Executive positions on Parramatta Climate Action Network (ParraCAN), a local park committee, reconciliation group, ATSI Committee and is a semi-voluntary gymnastics coach leader.

The HuB in Telopea: Exceptional Project within a Not For Profit Organisation

The HuB in Telopea is a dynamic and innovative project enabling all members of the community to come together, learn new skills and participate in community life. Key staff have taken the successful Men’s Shed model and developed it into a practical whole-of-community space, with activities such as Men’s and Women’s Shed, D.I.Y Classes and programs for Young People, Dads and Kids and Mums and Kids.

Arrupe Place – Jesuit Refugee Service: Exceptional Community Partnership Project in a Local Government Area

Arrupe Place is the first collaborative project in Parramatta to provide a safe and welcoming space for people seeking asylum. Asylum seekers can drop in to the cottage, provided by the Sisters of Mercy to receive services delivered by eight partner services including legal advice, financial assistance, and access to case workers, English classes, home visits, cooking classes, food provision and a sense of community.

Warren Gardiner: Hall of Fame

Warren Gardiner has worked in, and for, Western Sydney for much of his life. He is an inspiring individual that has a grounded passion for the communities that he has worked in and is a strong advocate for the people of the Greater Western Sydney Area.

Highly Commended

Darcy Street Project: Exceptional Social Enterprise in Greater Western Sydney

Darcy St Project, headed by the amazing and inspiring John Cafferatta and Tristan Brookes-Perrin, is a social enterprise that directly addresses social needs and serves the common good for the communities of Greater Western Sydney and Parramatta through specialty coffee education. Darcy St Project’s point of difference is that they are the first of its kind, a Specialty Coffee School and Brew Bar in the one location. Their belief is that once you invest in knowing how to become a barista or coffee roaster then you have endless possibilities for employment and travel. They work in partnership with the local, social, public and private enterprises of Western Sydney to assist those most in need within the community with a particular focus on providing employment pathways for the homeless and young people who are at risk. Profits are re-invested into coffee roasting/barista training scholarships and work experience opportunities.

Parramatta Climate Action Network (ParraCAN): Outstanding Voluntary Group/Organisation

ParraCAN furthers understanding and appropriate practices regarding climate change among residents, local organisations, schools, councils and politicians. ParraCAN highlights Western Sydney in everything they do, working with many organisations based on values of growing democracy, cultural diversity, inclusion, non-partisanship, walking the talk and cooperation.

For more information on the ZEST Awards click here.