YWCA Canberra Blog, March 2016

Cooking Circles: A Great Ydea

Feminartsy, November 2015

Creating Change through Cooking

Connections UnitingCare Anti-Poverty Award, October 2015

Media Release

The nomination that granted Cooking Circles Runners-Up Award during Anti-Poverty Week, 2015

Yes She Can radio, September 2015

Interview with Heidi on her Timor Leste experience, her fundraising activities for the Alola Foundation, and her “hero” Kirsty Sword Gusmao. Thank you Nasreen for the opportunity to be part of the show. The Timorese music was a lovely surprise!

Listen to the program here – 25 minutes

HerCanberra, September 2015

Written by Jessica Schumann

“In a world where we are connected now more than ever, how is it that so many women and girls still find themselves so isolated and lacking confidence within their own communities?”

Read the full article!


YWCA Canberra Y News, August 2015

YWCA Canberra included a pieceIMG_3099 on travel to Timor Leste to get Cooking Circles underway, last year. Read about the progress since being awarded a Great Ydeas Grant in April 2014 in the third edition of Y News. You can read about some of the other fabulous work of YWCA Canberra and its membership, too!

Get involved with the Y

Find out about upcoming events with the Y

The Canberra Times: Food & Wine, and Good Food online, July 2015

The Canberra Times Reporter, Natasha Rudra, joined a Canberra Cooking Circle and wrote glowingly about the experience in her article, Circle of life in the kitchen. The pleasure was all ours Natasha!

“There are five of us in Vanessa’s spacious inner north Canberra kitchen this Friday night, chopping vegetables, rolling mini meatballs by hand – and drinking wine. Conversation flows. Vanessa’s two venerable cats, each nearly 20 years old, lounge on the sofa. It’s a companionable girls’ night – except none of us have really met all the others before. We’re here for a Cooking Circle. 

Community sector worker Heidi Zajac came up with the idea of the Cooking Circles – groups of women who gather to cook, learn from each other and then share a meal. The project was born out of Zajac’s experiences in East Timor, cooking with local women in their homes. Tonight we’re helping prepare a Greek feast with recipes handed down to Vanessa from her grandmother.”

Read the full story online

Follow Natasha on Twitter @NatashaRudraCT and The Canberra Times on Facebook


Right Now, November 2014

‘Tales of Food in Timor Leste’

Human rights blog Right Now invites opinion pieces on a plethora of important topics, and writing about food and culture in Timor Leste was a privilege for the site’s November topic of international human rights. Read the piece and find many more here.

“Pause for a moment. Imagine that you live in a country that has been under the rule of three different nations in your grandparents
’ lifetime.  In the worst moments, your fellow citizens are uprooted from their homes, their daily lives terrorised, and loved ones lost.  During peaceful times, a new religion and unfamiliar languages are introduced.

Different customs and hierarchies become a part of life along with foreign music and food.

There are some in your community who fought for the independence of your nation, some who were militia fighting to maintain existing rule, and others who migrated to Australia or Portugal.  Three generations experienced the transition to independence, and a fourth generation who is too young to know.

Whenever the dinner table conversation turns to politics, or school and work, you feel as if your future and the future of your great nation are being sketched out right there in that very moment. You live in Timor Leste and you have big plans for your country.”


YWCA Canberra panel celebrating The Changemakers Festival, October 2014

On Thursday 23 October YWCA Canberra celebrated the Changemakers Festival by hosting a panel discussion featuring three of our Great Ydeas grant recipients, and their projects that are driving social innovation and change.

Panellists: Caterina Giorgi, Caitlin Sandercock, Heidi Zajac. Find out more here:…

More about Caitlin’s initiative, Development and Aid Workers Network at



YWCA Canberra blog, October 2014

Heidi Zajac - Cooking Circles - DiliAs part of this year’s Changemakers Festival, we’re hosting a special panel on Thursday 23 October featuring three of ourGreat Ydeas grant recipients for 2014, Women leading change: small grants, big impact. Here, panelist and grant recipient Heidi Zajac writes about her recent trip to Timor-Leste as part of her Cooking Circles project, which aims to connect Australian and Timorese young women to share cooking processes and recipes, stories, and build friendships. 

16 September, 2014: Dili, Timor Leste

The sun is up and beaming onto my skin, and motorbikes and minibuses speed past my partly shaded spot by the road. I’m waiting for Obalita, a 19-year-old woman I met a week earlier through a friend. She lives two bus stops away from my Timorese host family and today we’ve arranged to meet at the bus stop where she will then guide me to her local vegetable market.

Published on the YWCA Canberra. Read the complete article here


Canberra Weekly, May 2014

The cover story after being awarded a Great Ydeas grant! Thanks to fabulous journalist Kimberley Granger, photographer Stephen Corey & of course Canberra Weekly Magazine. Read the article in full on Hannah Wandel’s site and discover her amazing project, Country to Canberra, here.

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