News and views of Bangladeshi community in Australia

An initiative of Sydney Bangla Women’s Network
Senior Citizens’ Forum

Press release: This 23rd September, SBWN (Sydney Bangla Women’s Network) successfully curated a focus program at Glenhaven Community Centre to a 200+ audience. Designed for the Senior Citizens of Sydney, this free event was a 3hour long information session covering various aspects of life for this age group. The vision was to bring them together for potential networking and provide a light afternoon of information and entertainment.

Member of Parliament for Riverstone, Honourable Warren Kirby, attended the program, staying much longer than initially promised and listened intently to the English parts of the program. He spoke of the importance of looking after our senior citizens and how they offer a wide source of knowledge from their lived experience.

The principal sponsor for the event was BMS (Bangladesh Medical Society). In his speech, Dr Ali Reza, President of BMS, praised SBWN in their impressive journey within a short span of 12 months and gave assurance of continued support for future endeavours. Two other major sponsors for the event were Hearing Clear Australia and Blacktown Dental Surgery. Kakon Rahman, Audiologist from hearing Clear spoke of the importance of seeking hearing support early and the existing stigma to hearing aids.

The content for the afternoon was structured into small segments, each focusing on a specific common concern of the age group and was presented by professionals, including doctors and solicitors. The segments included chronic pain, stroke and heart attacks, dementia and legal aspects such as superannuation, wills and access to relevant services provided by Senior Rights Service community legal Centre. The information sessions were bracketed with story sharing segments and performances by Senior Citizens, notably Violin and poetry recitals and old Bengali songs rendered.

The event kicked off with a beautiful Puthi Gaan Paath in Bengali and recital of a Sukumar Ray poem performed by young children aged 5-11years. Although the focus topics of the afternoon were heavy, the tone of the overall event was kept light with sporadic anecdotes shared and fun interactive games.

SBWN collaborated with other key organizations working with this age group, who presented on their programs. Sabrin Farooqui, President of Cultural Diversity Network International (CDNI), spoke of their programs that aim at technological literacy of Senior Citizens. Zannatul Ferdaws, a representative of Keeping In Contact (KIC), also spoke about their events that encourage connectivity within the Senior community.

Interactive booths, keeping to the subjects of discussion on stage, were available for the audience to collect printed resources from or have in-depth conversations with specialists at their own pace. These were open till the end.
SBWN provided afternoon tea during the program and served dinner for all attendees afterwards. A designated booth selling homemade pickles and plants was set up and two raffle draws were organized to raise funds for the organization.

This event was envisioned by Sonya Rashid, Vice president, and Tanzin Ahmed, Executive member. They led the SBWN team of 25 enthusiastic women to successfully orchestrate this informative and fun afternoon. 20 volunteers, mostly children of SBWN members, were also extensively involved in making this event a success, from setting up booths to organizing transportation for some of the attendees, they went above and beyond.

The spontaneous feedback from the senior citizens who attended the program was overwhelmingly positive. SBWN was repeatedly praised for focusing on this often-forgotten group of people and for organizing such an event.

September 2023 marks one year of SBWN’s initiation and it has come a long way in terms of creating awareness and organizing support drives and one-on-one care programs. Led by Dr Nahid Sayma, this is a group comprising of passionate women who aim to help those niche groups of the Bangladeshi community who are isolated and often stigmatized. SBWN aims to have multiple established streams of support catering to different vulnerable groups under its umbrella, as it understands that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to helping the community. The success of this event is a testament to the collective power and passion that this group brings to the table.

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