To Stephen; one of NYC’s many homeless people

to stephen

Written by Helen McWilliam

I didn’t know Stephen’s name until after he had died.  He always sat on the chairs near the Elephant Playground on the UWS of Manhattan.  We walked past him often as it is a favourite playground of my children.  I think I noticed him because he always looked so sad and I was struck by how young he was. I often thought about bringing him food, giving him money but I never made the time to do it.  Next time, I’ll bring him a sandwich.  Next time I’ll bring him a coffee.  I was so shocked when I saw a sign on the seat where he always sat, asking if anyone had any more information about who he was, because he had died.  It seemed many people had noticed the sad, young man on the park bench and didn’t want him to die anonymously.


Homeless people are a much rarer sight in Australia than they are in New York City.   I am a social worker so I am aware of the support and services available to homeless people in Australia.  To try and make myself feel better about having done nothing for Stephen, I wanted to see what I could have done for him.  After my internet search and without getting too bogged down in the depressing details, it is a huge issue for the city. Homelessness is at its highest level since the Great Depression. It doesn’t just affect the men and women you regularly see but many families as well.


Through my research I was hoping to find out what organisations recommended people do when they see homeless people on the street.  Obviously call 911 if you are seriously worried about a person sleeping rough and you think it’s a medical emergency.  In extreme weather you can call 311 if you’re concerned about someone and the responsible organisation is required to act quickly to check on the welfare of that person.


From what I read, organisations don’t actively encourage giving money or food/water to homeless people.  It won’t change their life however it may make their day easier.   I also discovered lots of amazing work being done by organisations in New York to support the city’s homeless population.    There’s outreach programs, food programs, crisis service and advocacy, to name a few.  Coincidently AWNY’s chosen charity this year ‘The Dwelling Place’ is one such organisation.  It is a transitional residence for homeless women, which works hard to maintain the dignity of the women and supports their transition back into the community.  Keep an eye on the AWNY website and AWNY updates as there’ll be volunteering opportunities for this charity later in the year.


The homeless situation in NYC will not be solved any time soon but in honour of Stephen, I now make an effort to give food or money to people when I feel I should. I know it won’t change their lives but a little kindness goes a long way. I now also make a regular donation to a charity I believe does worthwhile work which does make a difference in the long term.


If you’re interested, here are some links to some of the websites I found useful and interesting:


If you don’t want to give money, the Coalition for the Homeless has some really good information on their website, including a help card to print out and give to people begging so they know where to go for help.


Australians in New York Celebrate Summer with Picnic in Central Park [VIDEO]

Saturday June 24 was a sunny day in Central Park, New York, where 60 or so Aussies joined us for our second annual AWNY Picnic in the Park.

Take a peek at the fun we had in this video produced by Aussie, Emma Cillekens. Emma interviews some of our picnickers (including one American) along with AWNY Committee members who organized the event. Our President Belinda ‘BJ’ Jackson speaks about the benefits that Aussie social and cultural groups in New York like ours can bring.

In the words of Aussie woman in New York, Belinda Paladino:

You miss that feeling of home, and sort of, what you’re used to and what you know and sort of your identity. So when you can come across a group that can relate to you and understand you, as you are, I think that’s really refreshing.

Learn more about AWNY

Read about our heritage and work here and sign up to become a member via the American Australian Association.

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Event Review: Morning Tea at the Consul-General’s Residence

by Cara Zelas

On a beautiful spring morning, on May 3rd, AWNY’s patron Mrs. Kerry Minchin kindly invited a small group of AWNY members to connect, network and mingle in the outside courtyard of the Australian Consul-General’s residence at Beekman Place. It was a lovely morning tea, filled with Aussie delights surrounded by new spring flowers, sunshine and engaging conversation.

After countless lamingtons, Tim Tams and cups of tea, Mrs. Minchin, wife of the Consul-General, The Hon Nick Minchin, asked the guests to gather around, as she wanted to highlight an important issue that is lacking for the Australian community in New York. She brought attention to the fact that Australia did not have any kind of space or building in New York City that could be used for events, to showcase Australian businesses or to fly the Aussie flag. The Beekman and Sutton Place areas are populated by buildings from countries from all over the world, which expatriates can call a home away from home and where they fly their flags proudly and hold events as appropriate. Mrs Minchin is on a mission to create an Australia House in NYC and asked for AWNY support.


The main question from attendees was how could we get involved to assist this campaign. Mrs. Minchin asked if AWNY members could advocate their support through different social media platforms. She hopes that Australians in New York can lead the charge once they head back to Australia. We will keep you posted as how you can further support this cause!

Belinda Jackson, AWNY’s President extended a very big thank you to Mrs. Minchin for the Consul-General’s hospitality and for opening their home for many AWNY committee meetings and get-togethers.

From the Australia Women in New York community, we wish all the best to the out-going Consul-General and their family.

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To see more photos from the event, check out this Facebook album.


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AWNY Mums and Dads Update, July 2017

Summer has finally has come to the city, and we celebrated with two outdoor events—the AWNY Mums’ Summer in the City drinks and the AWNY Picnic in the Park.

The AWNY Mums’ drinks at Tavern on the Green enjoyed beautiful weather. It was just so nice to be outside. We had a good attendance of about 10 mums, along with some dads. Tavern on the Green is a great summer venue—a little pricey but it has good food and lots of space for children!

We were anxiously watching the forecast in the days ahead of the AWNY Annual Picnic. Will it rain? Will it thunder? Neither Amanda or I could attend the picnic, but we’re told the weather was amazing and the kids enjoyed face painting, bubbles and a piñata.

I also wanted to share the best thing I learnt about this month: the Give Back Box. Something I have been missing since we left Australia is charity clothes bins. I have missed being able to put all my clothes for donation in the back of the car, drive them to the local supermarket and put them in the charity bins. Job done. The clothes my sons have grown out of have been piling up for the two years we have lived here (I am in no way saving them for a third child….this mum is done!). But then a friend told me about Give Back Box. The idea is that you recycle the many Amazon boxes you receive by packing them with good quality secondhand clothes, printing out a label, and booking a pick-up or taking them to your local post office. So easy! I am now on my third box and the clothes stockpile is nearly gone. There are probably a million other ways to donate clothes in the city but this is the best one I have found so far so I wanted to share!

AWNY Mums and Dads will be a little quiet over the summer with most families coming and going for the school holidays. Our next event will be a Mums’ dinner coming up at the end of August. Our current plan is Sunday night dinner at Burke and Wills, with a trip upstairs afterwards to the Manhattan Cricketers Club for an aperitif. Should be a fun evening!

Hope you’re all enjoying the summer! Stay cool!
Helen and Amanda




What’s On in New York, July 2017

We do hope your July 4th weekend is packing a punch so far. With some luck you’ve got today off work to make it an extra long weekend, and you’ve packed up the framily (friends+family=framily) and headed beach-side, lake-side, mountain-side or city-side with a drink in one hand and a sarnie in the other.

There is something unique about long weekends in New York, probably because we get relatively few of them. And when you’ve got a quiet moment, have a squizz at AWNY’s pick of events for July in New York, this weekend and beyond.

Enjoy! – The AWNY Communications Team

Strong stomach? Then Nathan’s 2017 Hotdog Eating Contest is on July 4th at Coney Island (at Nathan’s flagship store). It runs from 10am-2pm. Last year’s winner gulped 70 hotdogs in 10 minutes. Gross, but quite something to see. Plus, one of our own AWNY Committee Members, Tanya McCaw is on the judging panel!

If you’re anywhere near the east river on the night of the 4th, then don’t miss the Macy’s Day fireworks, scheduled to kick off about 9.20PM. They will be set off along the East River, with the best viewing points between Midtown and the South Street Seaport district. As always, get there early to grab a good spot.

The annual AAA Westpac Summer Cruise is on July 20th and tickets are on sale now for this fun event. Cruise the East and Hudson Rivers, sip cocktails, nibble fare from The Australian Hotel. Purchase your tickets and get all event info here.

AWNY’s July event is ‘Greekalicious,’ an intimate book talk with award winning chef and author Maria Bernardis. Ticket price of $35 includes light refreshments and a copy of Maria’s book, ‘My Greek Family Table.’ Visit the event page on the AAA website to secure your ticket.

The New York Musical Festival runs throughout July and there’s an incredible line up of performances to see at various locations around the city. This link has a calendar of all events, dates, and locations – hopefully there’s a show near you!

Get out and see a movie during the Summer Movie Series that runs throughout July on the flight deck at the Intrepid Museum. Tickets are free (first in best dressed set up) and if you’re a member of museum you get priority admission but as you’ll be sitting atop the aircraft-carrier-turned-museum there’s good visibility from all spots.

Governors Island! Get there in July. You can visit on your own schedule for a leisurely picnic and bike ride or for one of the fun events throughout July, including City of Water Day on July 15,  Come Out & Play on July 21 and 22 or the Poetry Festival on July 29 and 30.

Tame Impala, Vance Joy, Solange, and Nine Inch Nails are just some of the highlights at the Panorama Music Festival, Randall’s Island, on July 28-30. See the line up here and view ticket package options here.

Warm Up 2017 is MoMA PS1’s outdoor music festival and runs throughout July and August, and showcases the best in live and electronic music. Melbournians Superconscious Records perform on July 29. Note MoMA PS1 is in Long Island City, directions, info, line up all here.

Pic credit: Joanna Hishon