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Meet Bijinder Dugal

Meet Bijinder Dugal, part of our Celebrating Neighbourhood Good Project.

Here at Westpoint we’re Celebrating Neighbourhood Good. We’re proud of our community, and the people working in it to help others. That’s why we’re sharing their stories with you.

 

In the spirit of reconciliation, Westpoint acknowledges the Darug people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which Westpoint resides and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

 

Here at Westpoint we’re celebrating Neighbourhood Good. We’re proud of our community, and the people working in it to help others. In our neighbourhood, people are creating positive change every day, making lives better, taking care of those in need and creating a place where we all feel safe and welcome. That’s why we’re sharing their stories with you—to show you that there is so much good in our community, and to say how proud we are to be a part of it. Because ours is a place for everyone, where our community comes together.

 

 

Meet the passionate and inspiring Bijinder Dugal, who is on the Board of Directors and part of the Executive Team of AASHA. This Sydney-based not-for-profit organisation cares for seniors, helping them live independent and vibrant lives here in Australia. With their organisation name ‘AASHA’ translating to ‘hope’ from Hindi, Bijinder and the AASHA team are infusing colour, entertainment, dance, music and life to the seniors of Blacktown and beyond, and they’re truly making a difference in our community.

 

Born in India, Bijinder travelled to Australia in 1975 with a bag of saris and $5 in her pocket. In Australia, Bijinder created a full life for herself, studying education and eventually becoming a specialist teacher and then an assistant principal. Blessed with everything she needed, Bijinder joined AASHA with the belief that giving back was vital. Equipped with firsthand experience of the difficulties associated with moving to a foreign country, she delved into dedicating herself to the people who fall between the cracks.

 

With a big heart and a true understanding of the importance of our elders, Bijinder gives hope, integrity and dignity to seniors. Underpinned the motto “caring for those who care for us”, AASHA was created to promote culture-based care. Mainly supporting people of the South-East Asian community, they have established their largest growing community right here in Blacktown. AASHA’s aim is to remove the barriers that hold people back by providing a safe space where the elderly community can be themselves and feel valued. From Bollywood dance sessions via Zoom during Covid lockdowns and specialist health forums held by doctors, to community events like Harmony Day — celebrated right here at Westpoint — they’re making a substantial impact in our community. Health and happiness are the main drivers, and Bijinder is inspired by the results she sees first-hand. From simple acts like a mature man finding the courage to get up and dance on a group Zoom call, or a member gaining independence by learning how to catch public transport, even the smallest smile can make a difference to their happiness.

 

Music and dance are at the heart of their work. Not restricted by language, the colourful, hypnotic beat of Bollywood Dance has such an impact on the work they do by bridging cultures and providing exercise, mental stimulation, culture, and joy. In recognition of their impact, AASHA received the ZEST Award in 2021, providing deserved recognition that continues to drive Bijinder daily. Working specifically to prevent early Dementia and Alzheimer's, their programs are designed to keep the brain healthy and prevent cognitive decline in their members. They are also very focused on assisting those who have experienced elder abuse and social isolation. Having gifted 1,000 free health checks so far, their goal is to continue to grow their organisational services to also cover cancer screening and prevention. 

 

Want to be a part of the change? Bijinder encourages you to “come with passion, come with heart, and you’ll be rewarded” — and that’s what Neighbourhood Good is all about. Bijinder often reminds herself that “people forget what you do and what you say, but they remember how you make them feel”. If you would like to join the community, AASHA holds open meetings every second Wednesday in the Community Room on Level 4 here at Westpoint.

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