FREE A LIFE POSTPONED | THE ASK PROJECT | MAKE ME VISIBLE NATURE PLAY – EVERY DAY | DON’T ALL NEW MUMS FEEL ANXIOUS?
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HELLO Welcome to edition 4!
So, we want Bubba West Magazine to be for ALL parents, regardless of nationality. This edition’s content in Amharic ‘Small steps can change the dance’ – we’re not sure who said it, but is one small step towards this goal. the phrase has been at the front of our minds recently. But not all parents are able to enjoy life in our community. We’ve seen how the seemingly small actions of individuals can Recent events have shocked the world and exacerbated change the world in which we live, one step at a time. In this the plight of asylum-seekers. We interview one dad edition, we focus on some inspiring locals who are dedicated to incarcerated at Villawood Detention Centre about what making the lives of others better. it’s like to live behind bars, apart from his family. We ask local mum Jo Kirk about her ASK project, which provides free fun activities for asylum-seeker children and their parents. We catch up with Newport dad Jason Cranage to find out about The DONS, a social group for fathers that aims to support local dads while giving back to the community. And we chat with artists Suzie Blake and Danielle Smelter, whose powerful photography projects capture the beauty and the reality of breastfeeding, and break down society’s taboos. At Bubba West, we’ve also been inspired to take some small steps of our own. For the first time, we feature an article in a language other than English. The west is hugely diverse – but if we have one thing in common, it’s the experience of raising children, and all the challenging, rewarding, heart-wrenching and heart-warming moments it brings.
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And lastly, this is our final edition for the year, so we’d like to wish you all a happy summer. Enormous thanks to all our advertisers, contributors, readers and supporters. Your small steps have inspired our dance. Happy reading! Eden and Emily. Connect with Bubba West online at www.bubbawest.com, via Facebook at www.facebook.com/bubbawesthub, or by email at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
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Also, we can’t believe it’s summer already, but Chrissie Davies shares with us some invaluable tips on keeping everyone happy these school holidays.
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MAKE ME VISIBLE – 21st-century breastfeeding FOREWORD EMILY RAUBENHEIMER
IMAGES SUZIE BLAKE
The first time you breastfeed in public is vaugely terrifying. As women, we have been taught by society to remain covered, and hide our bodies and their functions from view. This outdated ‘lesson’ is contributing to an unprecedented low uptake of breastfeeding in Australia. Without visible role models, many new mothers struggle to understand where their new breastfeeding role places them in society. In an attempt to make breastfeeding more visible and less taboo, Bubba West Magazine chats to two photographers who are changing lives and perceptions with the click of a camera: Suzie Blake and Danielle Smelter. BUBBA WEST /3
with the nutrients they need through breastfeeding. Most mothers can breastfeed, provided they have the right information, family support and the support of the healthcare system and society at large.
I am Suzie Blake, an artist, photographer and mother, based in Footscray. When I was feeding my second son, six-monthold Xavier, I decided to take a self-portrait and post it on I believe it is a human right for all people to be breastfed. Mothers Facebook to see if other women would be interested in being should not have to face additional challenges in their attempts to photographed in the same way. I was inundated with responses. breastfeed their young; simply learning the art of breastfeeding is challenge enough. And so, my project ‘What Does Breastfeeding Look Like?’ began. This is a documentary photography project that aims to One of the reasons women don’t take up or continue breastfeeding show the realities of breastfeeding. is because they don’t see other women breastfeeding. I’m all for the media advocating breastfeeding, but an airbrushed, photoshopped In the media, I feel that there is a distinct lack of authenticity image is not realistic. Women having a hard time breastfeeding in images of women breastfeeding. Most photos are highly think, ‘I don’t look like her’, which is unhelpful. Women trying to stylised, fetishistic or unrealistic; many are sheer fantasy, breastfeed need to see images and think, ‘I can identify with that’. whether it is the angelic mother in her clinical white perfection, or some model on the front of a fashion magazine. I would like all people to recognise that breastfeeding is the norm. The benefits of breastfeeding are huge, and we are all in this This project is about portraying breastfeeding in all its beautiful together! In order to help women, we need to empower them. messiness. This is about tired eyes and no make-up. This is Breastfeeding is hard, but it’s an amazing thing that we, the female about milk leaks and ratty hair. This is about appeasing your humans of this Earth, can sustain another human’s life with our two-year-old while you try to feed your newborn. This is own. about dishes piled up in the kitchen and dirty laundry in the corner. I’m running a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo to help take the project global. I will also be having an exhibition featuring the The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers from the local area, which is launching on International ‘breastfeeding up to six months of age, with continued Women’s Day 2016. breastfeeding, along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age, or beyond.’ In spite of recommendations, Visit whatdoesbreastfeedinglooklike.tumblr.com to view all the women are faced with innumerable challenges, both in the images, and join us on social media at: West and in the developing world. Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatdoesbreastfeedinglooklike Twitter: twitter.com/SuzieShoots As a mammalian species, we are designed to provide our young Instagram: instagram.com/suzieblakeshoots
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When I first began thinking about this project, I jotted down the following words: ‘fragmentation’, ‘contamination’ and ‘marginalisation’. Nobody warns you how you will be torn apart and need to rebuild yourself after having a baby – probably because you don’t really understand until you experience it. But I do think it’s a conversation we should try to have. The term ‘contamination’ holds the most power for me. A while back, I read an article about ‘contaminated time’ and how, as mothers, all of our time is contaminated. We are rarely, if ever, afforded a space to focus on a single task without something mentally or literally tugging us away. This resonates strongly for me, as I grasp for moments in which to be creative. But there are more sinister forms of contamination, too. Professional contamination is an idea that I hope to address in this project. I’m also drawn to the idea of bodily contamination, literally by means of a foetus, which has a parasitic relationship with the mother’s body, but also conceptually, through the way society views and values a woman’s body.
IMAGE DANIELLE SMELTER
DANIELLE SMELTER: I am a photographer and the owner of art consultancy WeFo Danielle. I’m mother to two young children and regularly play with ideas as much as I play with my children. I’m currently seeking models for my photographic series ‘Mother’, which is a work in progress. I’m interested in exploring restricting, judgmental, discriminatory and even controlling attitudes surrounding motherhood. As a new mother, I was underprepared for the lack of agency granted to me in so many arenas. I have my own experiences and I’ve heard the stories of others; the breadth of their experiences has been quite shocking to me.
The unifying idea behind the project is that a woman’s status as a mother contaminates her experience of the world and the way that she, her body and choices are received in public and private spaces. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, however; there are definitely positive forces of contamination at play, but I feel I need to face my demons right now. Recent media hype on the topic of breastfeeding older children (such as the notorious TIME cover) sparked a heated debate, often portraying women as dangerous, deviant and to be publicly shamed. For this reason, the first mother featured in my project is wrapped in ‘danger’ tape while breastfeeding her toddler. The second image in the series addresses a woman reclaiming the bikini in her ‘post baby body’. There are undertones of pressures in reclaiming our sexuality and simultaneously being judged for being too sexual as mothers, as well as the bodily imperfections we notice in others, as though we exist purely for the viewing pleasure of others. For more information, visit www.wefodanielle.com
Education, Early Learning, Masterplanning & Heritage 4 Emilton Avenue St. Kilda 3182 www.woollanhamlett.com.au BUBBA WEST /5
THE ASK PROJECT: play is free
WORDS EDEN COX | IMAGES SUPPLIED
There are nearly 30,000 asylum seekers living in the community on bridging visas across Australia. With restrictions on what they can earn, asylum seekers are often living below the poverty line: 90 per cent experience food insecurity, and 40 per cent have gone to bed hungry in the last month.
elbourne’s western suburbs is home to a large number of these people, including hundreds of children. This year, local mum Jo Kirk started the Asylum Seeker Kids (ASK) project to support and empower these families to start rebuilding their lives in small and dignified ways. The ASK project is a free, fun-filled day for asylum seeker children and their families living in the community. Once a month on a Saturday, volunteers meet up with the families for a day out in Melbourne – perhaps at the zoo, a park, the museum or a farm. Kirk says the ASK project is helping families to learn about all the great family-friendly play-based opportunities Melbourne has to offer, especially in the west.
Kirk says that so far, families that have attended the ASK project have included children of all ages, and have come form all over the world, including Somalia, Iran, Sri Lanka, Syria and Iraq. 'A number of the families are single-parent families with their other parent either still in detention, in a refugee camp, or deceased. The families had all been in detention at some stage and despite the traumatising effects of detention, the children have been engaged, happy and excited to be having fun with their parents in new family-friendly places.'
The first ever ASK event was held at the Melbourne Zoo on October 24 this year, with seven families attending: 10 parents and 16 children, plus four volunteers and their kids. 'It was a sunny day and everyone had fun,' says Kirk. 'It involved a tour by a zoo volunteer and a picnic lunch. There were many laughs on the day and lots of photo-taking of the zoo animals and new friends together.'
Kirk describes ASK as 'a very small project'. Small in scale it might be, but a day at the zoo with family can be huge for a young child who hasn't before had the opportunity, and for parents living below the poverty line who haven't been able to provide it. It's also clearly a pursuit of great passion for Kirk, a registered nurse who has worked with asylum seekers and refugees for 11 years. Kirk is even self-funding the project, and hoping to receive philanthropic funding for 2016.
In November, the group visited the Royal Botanic Gardens' Children's Garden for a picnic lunch and a treasure hunt. 'Families can come to one event or attend every month,' says Kirk, adding that she has received many emails from asylum-seeker families keen to get involved.
When we ask her why she started the ASK project, Kirk tells us, 'I have seen the damaging effects of the detention system on children and adults, and had wanted for a long time to do more to empower the families seeking asylum to flourish and thrive, not just survive here.'
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Kirk has worked as a volunteer with Medecins Sans Frontieres on the Thai-Burma border, then at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) as the health program coordinator and, most recently, as a refugee health nurse in Footscray. ‘...I have been lucky enough to meet the most resilient, courageous people who have sought safety in Australia. I have heard their stories and supported them as they start to rebuild their lives.’ Kirk says it’s also important to raise awareness about families seeking asylum in the western suburbs, and to help the community think about small ways in which we can engage and support our neighbours. The events are supported by local volunteer families, and Kirk would like to see this model continue as it helps to engage the wider community and raise awareness of the issues faced by families seeking asylum in Melbourne. So, how can families get involved? Families seeking asylum who would like to attend an ASK event can contact Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org. The project currently has enough volunteers, but families who would like to help can donate a Hoyts gift card for upcoming movie days in January 2016 (http://store.hoyts.com.au/default.aspx).
Other ways to support families seeking asylum are: Donate to the ASRC, based in Footscray (www.asrc.org.au/ home/our-services/how-we-help/aid/food-and-aid-network/) Shop at the Food Justice Truck: Every Friday at Footscray Primary School from 3pm–6pm (www.asrc.org.au/foodjustice/)
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including Animal Farm/ Reptile Zoo and Free Face Painting
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DEDICATED TO MUMS IN BUSINESS FROM ALL OVER VICTORIA. When: Where:
Sunday December 13th Sunday February 28th Sunday April 10th ( 2nd Birthday) 601 Heaths Road Werribee
$2 Entry for Adults and Children U15 Free BUBBA WEST /7
A LIFE POSTPONED: interview with an asylum seeker Every day, we hear more heart-wrenching stories about asylum seekers who’ve fled their homes – escaping persecution, violence and death. We hear about families separated and children in detention. But rarely do we hear the voices of the detainees.
he Humans of Detention project (HoD) aims to change that by sharing the personal stories of those incarcerated in detention centres. With the kind assistance of HoD, we were able to ask one father at Villawood Detention Centre what everyday life is like for him, separated from his wife and child.
What’s the worst thing about being in Villawood?
Being without your family; it’s ugly. With a daughter that needs you, seeing her once a month is nothing. Were you always in Villawood?
I was granted a bridging visa and lived out in the community for four weeks and 28 days. I didn’t have working rights, though, so my wife had to work full time to have enough money. I was the sole carer for my daughter. What was life like outside Villawood for you and your child?
I did everything; I fed her, changed her nappies, took her for walks, to the park, the movies, sat and watched television with her. It was just me and her and we had the best time. I also did the housework; I was the househusband. I did everything whilst my wife had to work. Now she has no one to do this for her, yet she still has to work full time. How were you taken to Villawood?
The guards came at five in the morning and raided my house. My daughter woke up and started screaming. She was terrified seeing all the strange people in her house. She was 21 months when they took me to Villawood. My wife was crying, too. How often do you get to see your child?
Now I am in Villawood, I can only see her once a month, sometimes less. It really depends on how much time and money they have to visit me. Finance, distance and the big risk of driving on the highway are just some of the things that makes it so hard for them to visit. It’s about a six-hour trip... My wife also has to pay rent, pay her loan, pay for her daughter and then, on top of that, coming to visit me and bringing me food. I never want to put this imposition on her. It’s not fair. I always love to see my daughter, though. She’s three now – last September. She brought
me in a card with stickers all around it for my birthday this year. We celebrated it the best we could in Villawood. It wasn’t very joyous, but it was awesome to see her and spend the day together.
How does she feel about you being detained indefinitely? Does she understand?
She’s getting old enough to realise that I’m locked up in here. She’s starting to... act up. She asks me if I’m going to come home with her this time. ‘Can I go home to our house tomorrow?’ she always asks. What do you say? Why can’t I be there for her? I’m always speechless. How does this affect her?
A psychologist came in and did a report on my family last year. She said that Sophia needs her father at this crucial stage in her life. If I’m not there, this could take a massive toll and affect her for the rest of her life. This is what she told me. It’s definitely affecting her. If I got deported and she came to Bangladesh, though, it would be very bad and very dangerous for her. I don’t want to uproot her life she has in Australia. I just don’t know what to do...
Who are Humans of Detention?
HoD provides support for detained asylum seekers and refugees who are indefinitely awaiting visa decisions that may or may not be made about their residency. Most people held in Australia’s detention centres are extremely vulnerable and have experienced horrors and persecution in their lives that we cannot imagine – they are in need of the compassion, generosity and care that we ourselves would wish to be granted were the circumstances reversed. Some people have an excellent grasp of English, some have very little. Some have family in Australia, some have none. HoD provides food, books, companionship, help with learning English, and a support base of young Australians who endeavour to champion the rights of these people – people just like us who circumstance has frowned upon.
BUBBA WEST /9
health and wellbeing.
A DIFFICULT START ከባድ አጀማመር--ልጆችን ማሳደግ እና ጭንቀት ቃላቶች፡ ኬሪ ቡቻናን ሞግዚት እና የህፃን ጤና ነርስ፤ አራስ አማካሪ እና የቤተሰብ ቴራፒስት ሳራ እና ፍራንሲስ የመጀመሪያ ልጃቸውን በቅርብ ወለዱ፤ ስሙም ዮናስ ይባላል፤ በመጀመሪያ ላይ ዮናስ ብዙ ስለሚተኛ እሱን መመገብ አልተቻለም፤ ሳራ ልጅዋን በየሶስት ሰአት ጡት ለማጥባት ብዙ ትደክማለች ግን ሙከራዋ ሁሉ አልተሳካላትም፤ ጡጦ መስጠት ትችል ነበር ግን ጡትዋን አልባ አጣርታ ለበኋላው አዘጋጅታ ታስቀምጣለች፤ በጣም ስለሚደከማት መቸ ይሆን ይህ ነገር በቃ የሚለኝ ብላ ትጠይቃለች፤ ከሁለት ሳምንት በኋላ ዮናስ በየምግቡ መኃል ለረጂም ሰዓት ነቅቶ መቆየት ጀመረ፤ የሳራ ፀባይም ቀለል ማለት ጀመረ፤ ግን ዮናስ ያለማቋረጥ ማልቀስ ስለጀመረ ደስታዋ ወደ ጭንቀት እየተቀየረ መጣ፤ ሳራ የልጁን ችግር ለማቆም ምንም ማድረግ አልቻለችም፤ ሳራም ማልቀስ ጀመረች እና ምን እንደማደርግ አላውቅም ብላ ለፍራንሲስ ነገረችው፤ ፍራንሲስም መፍትሔ ስለሌለው ተስፋ ቆረጠ፤ ሳራን በቤት ውስጥ በተጨማሪ ሊረዳት ተመኘ ግን ደመወዝተኛው እሱ ብቻ ስለሆነ ስራ መስራት አለበት፤ እሚያዋዩትም ሰው የላቸውም፤ ቤተሰቦቻቸው ከእነሱ ራቅ ያለ ስፍራ ስለሚኖሩ እና ጓደኞቻቸውም ስራ ስላላቸው ብቸኝነቱ ሰብሮአቸዋል፤ ቀጥሎም ዮናስ ባያለቅስ እንኳን ሳራ ታለቅስ ጀመር፤ ለሁሉም ነገር ለልጅዋም ጨምሮ ያላት ፍላጎትዋ ሁሉ ጠፋ፤ ሁል ቀን ለልጅዋ በማሰብ በብዙ ትጨነቃለች፤ ነገር ግን በድን ትሆናለች ብሎም ጭንቅላትዋም ብዥ ይልባታል፤ ዮናስ ፈገግ ይልና ወደ ፍራንሲስ ይሄዳል ግን ሁሌ እያለቀሰ ክሳራ ይሸሻል፤ እሷም እንደተጠላች ስለተሰማት እና አንዳንድ ግዜ ብልጭ ይልባትና ዮናስ ላይ ትጮሃለች፤ ከመኝታዋ መነሳት ትጠላለች ወደ ጓደኞችዋም መደወል አቁማለች እና ቀኑን ሙሉ በሌሊት ልብስዋ ትውላለች፤ ፍራንሲስ ዮናስ በጣም ስጋት እንዳለበት ተረዳ፤ ብዙ ያለቅሳል፤ እንቅልፍ አይተኛም እናም ንቁ ነው ነገር ግን በቀላሉ ይደነግጣል፤ ፍራንሲስ ይጨንቀው ጀመር፤ እና ማንም በደንብ አይተኛም ቀኑ ለሁሉም ቅዠት ሆነባቸው፤ ሳራ ብትቃወምም ፍራንሲስ ቤተሰቡን ወደ ግል ዶክተራቸው ይዞአቸው ሄደ፤ ሳራ እና ፍራንሲስ እያንዳንዳቸው ለራስ ህመም መመዘኛ የተዘጋጁትን ጥያቄዎች መልሰው ጨረሱ፤ ከውይይቱ በኋላ ዶክተሩ ሳራን postnatal depression (PND) ወሊድን ተከትሎ የሚመጣ ጭንቀት አለብሽ አላት፤ ሳራ እያለቀሰች እኔ የምፈልገው ሁሉን ነገር ትቼ መሮጥ ብቻ ነው አለች፤ ፍራንሲስ በመጨነቅ እና በስጋት ከፍተኛ ቁጥር አስቆጥሯል፤ ዶክተሩ ሳራን እና ፍራንሲስን ሕክምና እና ምክር እንዲያገኙ (psychologist) የአእምሮ ሀኪም እንዲያዩ ብሎም ለሳራ ደግሞ ቀለል እንዲላት የጭንቀት መድሃኒት (antidepressant medication) አዘዛላት፤ ፍራንሲስ ሳራን ለማገዝ ቤቱ ውስጥ ስለማይውል የሳራ እናት ከቤት መጥተው ከነሱ ጋራ በመሆን ሳራን እንዲያግዙዋት ተስማማ፤ ዶክተሩ ሳራ ሁኔታዋ እስከሚሻላት ግዜ እንደሚወስድ በማስጠንቀቅ ቤተሰቡን ለተጨማሪ ግልጋሎት ወደ Maternal and Child Health Nurse (MCHN)፣ የህፃናት አስተዳደግ ማእከል ትዌድል የህፃናት እና የቤተሰብ ጤና አገልግሎት እና ከወሊድ ጋራ የተያያዘ ጭንቀት ላላቸው ወላጆች ባካባቢው ያለ መረዳጃ ማህበር፤ እንዲሄዱ አዘዛቸው፤ ይህ ድጋፍ ከቤተሰቡ ጋራ አብሮ በመሆን ቤተሰቡ ጥሩ መግባባት በመሃከላቸው እንዲጎለብት እና ቤተሰቡ የዮናስን ችግር እንዲረዱ ግንዛቤአቸውን ከፍ ለማድረግ ይረዳቸዋል፤ ሳራ እና ፍራንሲስ ብቻቸውን አለመሆናቸውን በመረዳታቸው ከዶክተሩ ጽህፈት ቤት ቅልል ብሎአቸው ነው የወጡት፤ ከሰባት አንድ በላይ የሚሆኑ የመጀመሪያ እናቶች እና ከአስር እስከ አንድ የሚሆኑ የመጀመሪያ አባቶች በያመቱ ወሊድን ተከትሎ በሚመጣ ጭንቀት ይያዛሉ ነገርግን ሊቆጣጠሩት እና ሊሻሻል የሚችል ነው፤ ይህ article ታሪክ በራሳችሁ ውስጥ ያለውን ችግር የሚነካ ከሆነTaye, ወይም ነገሮች School ከባድ የሚሆኑበት ሌላ This has been translated into Amharic by Tenenet Victorian of Languages (www.vsl.vic.edu.au). Bubየምታውቁት ሰው ካለ እባካችሁ MCHN, በ( 13 22 29) ወይም ያካባቢውን ዶክተር ወይም ላይፍላይን ba West and Tweddle do not control, guarantee or claim responsibility for the quality or accuracy of translated content. Lifeline (13 11 14) ይደውሉ፤ The English version must be held authoritative. This article has been translated into Amharic by Tenenet Taye, Victorian School of Languages (www.vsl.vic.edu.au). Bubba West and Tweddle do not control, guarantee or claim responsibility for the quality or accuracy of translated content. 10/ BUBBA WEST
WITH DEPRESSION WORDS KERRIE BUCHANAN | TWEDDLE CHILD AND FAMILY HEALTH SERVICE
Sarah and Francis have recently had their first baby – a little boy named Jonas. At first, Jonas was often too sleepy to feed. Sarah tried hard to breastfeed him every three hours, but her attempts were mostly unsuccessful. She would give him a bottle, express her breastmilk, then sterilise everything ready for next time. She was very tired and began to wonder if this would ever end.
fter about two weeks, Jonas began to stay awake longer between feeds. Sarah’s mood lightened a little; but her delight became despair as Jonas began to cry nonstop. Sarah couldn’t seem to do anything to stop his distress. Sarah began to cry, too, and told Francis that she didn’t know what to do. Not having a solution, Francis felt helpless. He wished he could help Sarah at home more, but as the breadwinner, he needed to be at work. There was noone they could talk to; their families lived far away and their friends worked full time. The isolation was crippling. Soon, Sarah was crying even when Jonas was not. She lost interest in everything – even Jonas. Every day, she went through the motions of caring for Jonas, but she was flat and her brain felt foggy. Jonas would smile and reach out to Francis, but would often cry and turn away from Sarah. She felt rejected and would sometimes snap and yell at Jonas. She hated getting out of bed, stopped phoning her friends and often stayed in her pyjamas all day. Francis noticed that Jonas was a very worried baby; he cried a lot, wouldn’t sleep, and was very alert but startled easily. Francis began to feel stressed, and nobody slept well, making daytime a nightmare for everyone. Despite Sarah’s protests, Francis took the whole family to their doctor. Sarah and Francis completed a mental health screening questionnaire each. After discussion, the doctor diagnosed Sarah with postnatal depression (PND). Sarah cried and said she just wanted to stop everything and run away. Francis scored high for anxiety and stress. The doctor suggested that both Sarah and Francis see a psychologist for counselling and support, and prescribed antidepressant medication for Sarah to help lift her mood. Because he couldn’t stay home to help Sarah, Francis agreed for Sarah’s mother to come and stay to help. The doctor cautioned that it would take time for Sarah’s mood to improve, so she also referred the family for additional
services: the Enhanced Maternal and Child Health Nurse (MCHN), the early parenting centre Tweddle Child and Family Health Service, and a local postnatal depression support group. These supports would work together with the family to help them develop better relationships with each other and to support the parents to increase their understanding of Jonas’ emotional needs. Sarah and Francis left the doctor feeling relieved that they were not alone; more than one in seven new mums, and up to one in 10 new dads, experience postnatal depression each year, but it is manageable and does improve. If this story triggers any thoughts for you about how you are feeling, or how someone you know is finding things difficult, please call your MCHN, the MCHN hotline (13 22 29), your local doctor or hospital, or Lifeline (13 11 14).
Who is Kerrie Buchanan?
Kerrie is a team leader for the in-home service at Tweddle Child and Family Health Service (www.tweddle.org.au). She helps families with young children to navigate the challenges, and also the joys, of parenting.
BUBBA WEST /11
health and wellbeing.
DON’T ALL NEW MUMS FEEL ANXIOUS?
WORDS | DR RENEE MILLER
If you’re a new mum, you’ve probably heard it from someone: ‘It’s normal to feel anxious’. But is it really? Clinical Psychologist Dr Renee Miller from the Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network talks to Bubba West Magazine about postnatal anxiety.
ll new mothers experience some anxiety. After all, you are in a completely new role – arguably the most important one there is. You’ve never cared full-time for an infant before, and it depends on you for physical and emotional safety (which can be challenging if your own childhood was not safe). And, on top of all that, you are on call 24 hours a day in a body that has been through significant hormonal changes, you’re sleep deprived and you’re adapting to a multitude of changes in your life. So yes, some anxiety is ‘normal’. In fact, we need a certain amount of anxiety – ‘optimal anxiety’ – to be motivated to function well, to solve problems as they arise and, in a primal sense, to stay safe from predators (what is known biologically as the fight-or-flight response). In motherhood, a certain amount of anxiety makes us vigilant enough to keep our babies safe, to perform the many tasks 12/ BUBBA WEST
involved in caring for them, and to prepare for future possibilities (like a feed or nappy change). But what happens when this vigilance turns into hyper-vigilance? What happens when a feeling of impending doom creeps in – a feeling of dread, a constant fear that something bad is around the corner? You notice a sick feeling in the stomach, a knot in the chest, heart palpitations, constant worry, exhaustion while feeling too ‘wired’ to sleep, or worse, intense panic. These feelings are not ‘normal’. These feelings suggest that anxiety is no longer optimal, but has become a problem. And anxiety like this can be debilitating. Most people know about postnatal depression – feelings of sadness, negative thinking, tearfulness, loss of pleasure, lack of motivation, hopelessness, and/or dark thoughts. Health practitioners are therefore more likely to ask whether you are feeling sad or blue than to ask if you are feeling unduly
anxious or agitated. However, postnatal anxiety is common and can occur alongside postnatal depression, or on its own. My research showed that 10 per cent of new mums were anxious or stressed, but were not, in fact, depressed. This finding means that if we focus on depression as the only mental health problem in the postnatal period, women who experience problematic levels of anxiety may not recognise the problem, and may not be helped appropriately.
It is not uncommon for postnatal anxiety to be considered a ‘normal’ experience for new mothers – both by health practitioners and new mums themselves. But, recognising the extent of postnatal anxiety, Postnatal Depression Australia (PNDA) recently added an ‘A’ for ‘anxiety’ to it’s name (PANDA), signifying a change in its focus.
You may be experiencing postnatal anxiety if you are: • feeling worried, fearful, panicky, uptight, or overwhelmed • having obsessive thoughts • constantly worrying about things that could go wrong in the future (‘what if’ thoughts) • distressed by your anxiety and your symptoms are interfering with your life (not sleeping, avoiding going out, obsessively checking on your baby, seeking constant reassurance from others). It is important to talk about these feelings. You can begin by calling PANDA for free, confidential telephone counselling (1300 726 306). You can talk with your maternal and child health nurse, your GP, or a psychologist who is experienced in treating women in the postnatal period. Everyone’s experience of postnatal anxiety differs; however, generally speaking, counselling for postnatal anxiety involves:
• • •
learning about the body’s anxiety system understanding the triggers for your anxiety and modifying the things you can change understanding the link between body symptoms and thoughts breathing techniques to regulate the body’s arousal system understanding, challenging and learning how to not ‘buy into’ thoughts that make anxiety worse (like imagining a catastrophic event) learning how to stay calm in the present moment working through fears, worries and beliefs in light of your own past experiences learning how to take care of yourself and seek support.
In some cases (and in consultation with your GP or a perinatal psychiatrist) medication might be required alongside talking therapy. Remember, not all anxiety is normal for new mums, and help is available.
Who is Dr Renee Miller? Dr Miller is a clinical psychologist who’s worked for 15 years with women and couples facing difficulties with regard to pregnancy, birth, conception, the postnatal period, reproductive loss, and pregnancy/parenting after loss. She also established the Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network. www.antenatalandpostnatalpsychology.com.au www.facebook.com/antenatal.postnatal.psychology
BUBBA WEST /13
SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACTS FAMILY LAW WORDS LUCY PADULA, LP FAMILY LAW
When someone disappoints you, it's tempting to vent your frustration on Facebook or Twitter. It might be an ex-partner, a family member, a particular institution or even the government that is the subject of your negative online comment. Be aware that even if you delete the post, it may still exist somewhere online, and can come back to bite you.
he same can be said about photographs posted on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram and other similar online forums, so beware before submitting such information online.
proceedings. This is not limited to newspaper, radio broadcast and television, but also includes 'other electronic means' or otherwise disclosing details of court proceedings. An individual convicted of this offence may be imprisoned for up to a year.
Uncomplimentary comments about your ex-partner can negatively impact the post-separation relationship â€“ and yes, when children are involved, you will still have a relationship with your former partner. It can also affect financial outcomes, like the resolution, or otherwise, of property matters.
In one particular case (Lackey and Mae  FM CA fam 284 (4 April 2013)) it was found that not only the father, but also his family, had made comments about the court proceedings on Facebook. The comments denigrated the mother, the court, the independent childrenâ€™s lawyer, the judge, experts involved in the case and New South Wales police. Orders were made requiring the father and his family to remove the comments from Facebook. A copy of the orders was given to the Australian Federal Police who were directed to investigate the matter.
Most people will resolve matters without court proceedings; however, such comments can make the path to resolving matters more drawn out and thus more expensive, with emotions running high. Therefore, it is best to avoid putting negative comments in writing, whether online, or via an email or letter. Comments and photographs submitted on online forums can and have been used as evidence in support of particular issues before the court. I recall one case in which one of the parties claimed they had ceased working for some time as a result of alleged health issues. That individual then made a post on Facebook thanking another person for covering their 'shift'. That post was submitted to the court, along with various other pieces of evidence. Derogatory statements made about an ex-partner online, or via email or text message, can and have been used as evidence to demonstrate that partyâ€™s attitude towards the ex with respect to parenting matters; comments like 'he is such a loser' are not indicative of a positive co-parenting relationship. Another thing of which to be aware is Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975, which makes it an offence to publish court 14/ BUBBA WEST
It is important that you and your family and friends do not use online forums to make derogatory comments about your former partner. Regardless of your privacy settings, you never know what comments will be produced to your ex-partner or to the court, and which could impact your post-separation relationship (particularly when there are children involved). Avoid the temptation to express your frustration online. If this is not possible, temporarily deactivate your online accounts.
Who is Lucy Padula?
Lucy is a westside mum who runs LP Family Law, a specialist family law firm in Spotswood. Lucy is dedicated to assisting clients to resolve family law issues with dignity. www.lpfamilylaw.com.au (This article is not an alternative to obtaining independent legal advice and does not constitute independent legal advice. Similarly, attendance at information sessions does not constitute independent legal advice, nor does it constitute a solicitor-client relationship).
MORE THAN A DADâ€™S GROUP WORDS EDEN COX
ocal dad Jason Cranage is changing parenting for fathers in the west. His Facebook group The DONS (Dads of Newport & Surrounds) has a mission to build a stronger, more supportive community, in person and online, making it much more than just a dad's social group. Through its Facebook community and its various local events, DONS brings together like-minded dads from the local area who are at a similar stage in their lives. 'With so many dads working and rushing home to be the best dads they can be, there is not too much time for socialising or making new friends,' says Cranage.
White Ribbon Australia, the only national, male-led campaign to end violence against women. With a large and active membership, strong community ties and an admirable mission, what does DONS have in store over the next 12 months? Cranage is planning a repeat of last year's Oktoberfest event in May, which was attended by 200 local dads, not to mention plenty more fun catch-ups at different local venues with 'more out-there themes!' Join DONS on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dadsofnewport or text 0417 556 502 to be added to the communications list.
'Through mothers' groups, kinder, school and sports groups we meet so many great guys; however, in time, we tend to lose these connections as families head in different directions, with different schools and interests. The DONS catch up every few months to maintain these connections and to proactively build a stronger, more supportive community; one that feels more like a village.' Creating that village means creating happy families, and creating a happy family starts with happy, socially connected parents. 'When a dad is happy, engaged and connected, thereâ€™s a better chance of him being a positive role model within his family,' says Cranage. With around 400 local dads on its list, and over 700 community members tuned in to DONS on Facebook, Cranage has certainly tapped into an area of need in the west. 'The dads catch up every two months,' says Cranage. 'On average, we get around 100 guys to each catch-up, with some of our themed nights attracting around 200.' The success of DONS events is partly the 'formula'. According to Cranage, events must: be fun, be inclusive, not disrupt family time, and help build a stronger community. Besides fostering friendships between local fathers, DONS strengthens the community through fundraising initiatives, such as the DONS Mums & Dads White Ribbon Fundraiser event that was held at The Substation Newport in November. The event brought local parents together for a night of fun, with all proceeds going to
0413 417 627 email@example.com
Lucy Padula has been accredited as a specialist family lawyer by the Law Institute of Victoria. She is dedicated to assisting clients in resolving family law issues with dignity.
BUBBA WEST /15
THE KEY TO HAPPY SCHOOL HOLIDAYS WORDS CHRISSIE DAVIES, CHAOS TO CALM COSULTANCY
The school holidays are fast approaching, and many families will be preparing for five weeks with their school-aged children at home. The thought of this, along with Christmas preparations, can be a very stressful time for some families.
t saddens me when I hear parents say to their children, ‘I can’t wait for you to go back to school!’ I think to myself, ‘Really? You would much rather be at work than be spending time with your kids?’ There is something so wrong about that.
holiday! They have worked hard all year at school and deserve to have a break and a little bit of fun. Encouraging your children to be involved in planning for their own holidays gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility. Children need to be taught how to entertain themselves, as well as being stimulated by other sources. Parents also need to be able to feel relaxed and happy during the holidays, so working together as a family to create a happy holiday plan for everyone is a great idea. Some handy tips to get you started: •
Planner: There are so many downloadable weekly planners available online, although drawing them up on paper is just as effective. Older children can make the planner for the family. Set it out a week at a time for five weeks. Divide each day into three sections: morning, lunch and afternoon. Put them up on a wall somewhere that is visible to the whole family, so you can all refer to it.
Budget: Every family will have their own unique budgets and interests, and children need to be mindful of this. Before you start planning with your children, you need to do a bit of homework. Consider your budget. Ask yourself how many outings you are happy with and can afford. Are you happy to have friends over for play dates? Check your local council website for events that your children might be interested in.
Down time: schedule at least one hour when you are at home for down time. This is when everyone can go to their rooms to have time alone. Down time is perfect for reading or writing creative stories, and is a fantastic way to ensure that parents get at least an hour’s break on days when they are not leaving the house.
School holidays is the perfect time for parents to be connecting and spending quality time with their children. These are the days that our children will look back on when they are older and remember what family life was like. They will remember that their parents spent time with them, and these are the simple moments where wonderful family memories are embedded for life. Children move from being in a very structured routine during the school term, to having a lot of idle time. When children become bored, their behaviour can very quickly escalate and become disruptive and negative. With a little bit of considered planning and, most importantly, input from your child, the school holidays can be a time of joy for all members of the family. Firstly, we need to remember that our children are on 16/ BUBBA WEST
Be creative: not all activities should cost you money. Part of the fun in the planning is that your children should be involved. Children have brilliant ideas to contribute, and they will come up with some wonderful and whacky activities â€“ go with it and have fun! Instead of heading out to the movies, plan a movie night at home. Pop the popcorn, get the kids to make the tickets and snuggle up together as a family!
Remember, all kids ever really want from you is your time! If you genuinely enjoy spending time with them and making the effort, they will be engaged and their little hearts will be bursting with happiness. You will have provided them with some wonderful and special days that they will treasure long into adulthood. Happy holidays everyone!
Who is Chrissie Davies?
Chrissie Davies is an educator, consultant, loving mamma via open adoption, and passionate supporter of children with social and emotional behavioural issues. She is committed to using her vast experience to support families to create their own emotionally healthy, and happy homes. To read more by Chrissie Davies, or for information about how she can assist your family to create the life you and your children truly deserve, follow her blog at www.chaostocalmconsultancy.com\
Specialising in supporting families to:
Personalis Private in
Understand the importance of establishing positive behaviour patterns Feel empowered to make positive decisions when it comes to discipline Create an awareness of the importance of emotionally healthy relationships within your family
INITIAL 30 MINUTE CONSULTATION IS FREE 0432 382 240 firstname.lastname@example.org www.chaostocalmconsultancy.com
BUBBA WEST /17
WORDS TEENA VAN WINDEN IMAGES 100 STORY BUILDING
This story comes with a spoiler alert: There are secrets inside 100 Story Building, in the heart of Footscray, and I’m about to tell you the most important one.
ou must understand that when you enter the building, you’re actually entering on the 100th floor. There are 99 other storeys below street level where the creating takes place. What happens on these 99 storeys is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares and, of course, is intended to fire the creative imaginings of the young people who come to the space. That's what has been happening since 2013, when founders Lachlann Carter, Jenna Williams and Jessica Tran established 100 Story Building, a place where young people of the west can unleash their love of words, writing and a host of related pursuits. Beneath all this is an effort to connect with the most marginalised children and young people in the community. ‘100 Story is not about creating the next generation of amazing authors,’ Carter says. ‘Our programs help children and young people further develop the foundational literacy skills that are the doorway to a long and healthy life. ‘We do this by engaging and supporting creative storytelling in all its forms; from poems about lolly traps laid by childreneating teddy bears, to comics about Malcom Turnbull’s Robotic Fridge (it’s stuffed with Presidential Pizza, don’t you know?). We help them tell the stories they want to tell.’ 18/ BUBBA WEST
100 Story brings together people from Melbourne’s creative community who share their skills through creative writing excursions, publishing programs and after-school activities. The centre is run as a social enterprise, which aspires to not rely solely on government funding and, as such, runs fee-paying school holiday workshops and an adult writing masterclasses. Under the guidance of an editorial team of young people, it publishes an anthology of children and young people's writing called Early Harvest each year. In a typical week, 100 Story will play host to the weekly children’s book and writing club (BooWriClu) for short, a writer’s gym for teenagers called Write Club, and the Level 87 Book Club that has been relocated to street level due to ‘soda water flooding’. ‘We have school groups in during the day that come to us for a jump-start on their creative writing for the term, or just as a fun reward for a class, but after school is where it’s really at. Primary- and secondary-aged children and young people from around the west join us on whatever adventure they are keen to have that afternoon. There may be alien recordings to translate, micro-fiction challenges, story collaborations or a personal project they have been working on,’ says Program Facilitator Simon Conlon. The kinds of kids who come to 100 Story don’t really fit into a type, Carter explains.
‘We have quiet, percolating minds that will mull over an activity while reading a book and later execute precisely their response, and others whose stories are bursting out of them so much that a chair gets in their way as they jiggle and dance it onto a page.
‘We try to give our story-makers realistic outcomes where possible. We produce real books, created with real artists and designers, to sell in real bookshops, for a real audience. We help our writers submit for real anthologies made by real publishing houses. We even have a vending machine filled with stories that the public come in off the street to buy from,’ says Carter. ‘Through our wide and varied volunteer base, children get support from creative and industry professionals and experience their creative process – including the mistakes.’ On the flipside, 100 Story is as much a social experience for young people as anything else. Conlon says, ‘We say to the kids, since you're having such a great time, why don't you tell your friends, and encourage them to come too? And a lot of them are reluctant to as they regard 100 Story as their own space, where they comfortably create.’ As well as its in-house activities, 100 Story conducts community outreach, which includes creative programs at local festivals and events. There's much more to say about this truly inspiring place, but only so many words. And who really knows which of the secrets in the 100 Story Building are fact, and how many are hearsay? What I can tell you is that there is an actual trapdoor to the other 99 storeys. That much, at least, is true. For more information about 100 Story Building and its school holiday programs, visit: www.100storybuilding.org.au/
Who is Teena Van Winden? Teena is a local communications professional and mum of one fun-loving toddler. She loves to keep her brain busy by writing about parenting and our westside community.
BUBBA WEST /19
out and about.
NATURE PLAY, EVERY DAY
When you're surrounded by the footpaths, shops and cafes of city living, connecting with nature might not be a regular occurrence. Christine Joy, Education Coordinator at the Royal Botanic Gardens, shares her expertise in encouraging nature play in inner city and suburban kids. What is nature play and why is it important?
Nature play is driven by the child’s imagination. It can include adult guidance as a spark to the play, but the child’s engagement with the natural world is the key, as is access to the outdoors. Observe kids at play in nature and you will observe thoughtfulness, intense and fluid physicality, emotional openness, tenderness, delight, and the eruption and development of ideas. Children may outwardly appear unfocussed, roaming dreamily, but this belies a thirst for learning – this is the real and serious work of childhood. Free nature play holds the key to creativity and the development of compassion and social skills. It provides fun, wonder, delight, adventure, awe and mystery. It increases physical and mental health and wellbeing, and enhances learning. What are some good examples of enriching nature play?
Natural environments to which we don’t have to add much are the best for all ages: for example, at the beach, the bush, or the local park, adults shouldn’t feel obliged to look for nature play activities; the key is that nature play is child directed. On the other hand, children can be offered invitations to play by adults, which create the unique ‘play culture’ of a family. Here are some easy ways to get started: Art and craft: Collect leaves, sticks, stones, seedpods and 20/ BUBBA WEST
flowers. Teach your child to take only what fits in their hand, and not to pick from live plants because animals need it for food and shelter. Make spirals, pictures, maps, prints, or sculptures. Float flowers and leaves to make watery patterns. Use sticks to draw in the sand, build shelters (micro or macro), and make stick-people. Sensory: Do some barefoot exploration, lay tummies on the grass and smell the fragrance, lie on your backs to look into tree canopies, roll down hills, and press cheeks against trees. Games: Play ‘leaf windows’ by finding a leaf with a hole in it and exploring the world through the leaf hole. How can suburban families enjoy nature if they don’t have immediate access to bushland or nature reserves?
There are opportunities for nature play all around us. The following all have great potential for nature play: Local parks and gardens: Beyond the swings and slides, there could be mud, bark, sticks, leaves, trees and plants to discover. Teach children to rub and sniff a leaf, without picking it, to learn about fragrance and texture. Look for tiny landscapes that could be a fairy’s garden, or a dinosaur land. Walking: Explore nature strips and gardens in your street; look for fallen material, or discuss favourite trees.
The sky and weather: It’s always there and always doing something interesting! Look for cloud shapes to inspire sky stories, watch rainbows, and smell and taste the falling rain. Some children are unaccustomed to unstructured outdoor play. How can parents help them to enjoy it?
The urge for children to play is powerful; they do know how to do it, they just need a little freedom and encouragement. Try these simple tips and children will quickly get the hang of nature play: Provide nature play invitations as you walk. Stop and watch birds’ activities, and mimic their calls. Find a treasure to place into each other’s hands, then close your eyes and guess what it is. Share your own observations and emotional reaction to the natural world. For example, when you see a bright moon, respond with delight and sing a song about the moon. This will make the moon everlastingly special to your child. Read stories and play outside – sit on the grass (kids who never see their parents sitting on the ground are often afraid of doing it themselves).
How can families enjoy nature play at home?
Welcome a little anarchy over order! If your garden is highly landscaped, leave at least one wild space where the grass grows long, where dandelions can flower and grow their ‘clocks’, where ladybirds can visit, where spiders can build webs and where daisy chains can be made. Change is important for your child. Have loose rocks, sticks, stones and mulch for the child to explore, or a compost heap to poke at. Sand doesn’t need to have a pit, it can be thickly spread beneath trees. Rather than a predictable expanse of flat grass, make curving paths of sawdust or gravel that meander invitingly through plants in your garden. Water play is great, and you don’t need a flowing stream; simply put the top of a birdbath on the ground among sand, mulch, or grasses and shrubs. You’re providing water for native animals, as well as for mud pies and paddling. Observe nature from inside the house, too, to teach children that nature is an ever-present part of our lives, despite the four walls. Treat everything with wonder and children will begin to see each blade of grass as a little miracle.
Visit a natural place like the beach and observe, rather than direct, your child’s play. Watch how your child comes to you to share something, and be there completely in the moment. Offer an idea (such as building sandcastles) only if your child has none.Allow your child to get damp, grubby and dirty, and try to prevent them from picking up on your own fear of nature.
Who is Christine Joy?
Christine Joy is Education Coordinator at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. She works with children and families to encourage children to explore the wonders of plants in an interactive hands-on environment.
Werribee Park Once you
go you know!
Discover your very own garden oasis today Enjoy a coffee and catch up with friends surrounded by lush green lawns, stunning gardens and plenty of safe outdoor space for your kids to play. Werribee Park is less than a ten minute drive or bus ride (# 439)
from the heart of Werribee town centre and entry to the park is free so there’s never been a better reason to swap a little screen time for a bit more green time!
For more information call 13 1963 or visit www.parks.vic.gov.au
BUBBA WEST /21
WHAT’S NEW AT THE LIBRARY? WORDS SARAH LAVELLE, OUTREACH LIBRARIAN: CHILDREN AND YOUTH, HOBSON’S BAY LIBRARIES
We are getting ready for the annual Summer Writing Prize, the Summer Story Times season in the parks and gardens of Hobsons Bay has now begun, and the Summer Reading Club is about to begin. Also, with Christmas coming, there are lots and lots of new books appearing on the shelves. Here are some of my recent favourites. Happy reading! Eye to Eye | Written and illustrated by Graeme Base | Viking, 2015 A new Graeme Base book is always exciting. He set such a standard for us 80s kids with Animalia and has continued to deliver ever since. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is right up there with Animalia, but simpler text and illustrations make it friendlier for the slightly younger audience. Don’t get me wrong, though – there is still so much to find in the illustrations, the oldies will still love it just as much.
Florabelle | Written by Sasha Quintōn, illustrated by Brigette Barrager, with photographs by Michel Tcherevkōff | Harper, 2015 This book is worth it for the illustrations alone. Photos of flowers in a whole rainbow of colours are cleverly and intricately woven into the illustrations to create a dreamy, beautiful and whimsical story. It is stunning artwork.
I Will Love You Anyway | Written by Mick Inkpen, illustrated by Chloë Inkpen | Hodder Children’s Books, 2015 When I was younger, we had a dog. A dog who was innately naughty. He failed puppy school.
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Numerous times. Disobeying was a game for him. But we still loved him to bits. I think anyone who has ever loved a pet, warts and all, will dearly love this book. If, on the other hand, you are a parent constantly saying ‘no’ to requests for a pet, keep the kids away from this book. You will find yourself fighting a losing battle.
Perfect | Written by Danny Parker, illustrated by Freya Blackwood | Little Hare, 2015 Every time I see ‘Freya Blackwood’ I get rather excited and have to have a look. Danny Parker is starting to find himself on the same ‘must see’ list. Together, they are a little bit magical. This story about a perfect day of small adventures really does encapsulate the wonder of play, creativity, exploring, animals, food and rest.
The Bath Monster | Written by Colin Boyd, illustrated by Tony Ross | Koala Books, 2015 I can’t decide if the idea of a monster sucking the muddy water out of the bath is funny, terrifying or just absolutely disgusting. Perhaps it is a little bit of all three. Whatever... I like mud. I like baths. I like monsters. I like this book.
The White Book | By Silvia Borando, Elisabetta Pica and Lorenzo Clerici | Walker Books, 2015 Oh, this is one of the cutest books I have ever seen. I am in such a love bubble for wordless books and this one is absolutely delightful. I am also becoming a huge fan of Minibombo books. Have a look at their website to see the adorable trailer for this book, and the accompanying app. Lots of fun to be had with this one!
What the Ladybird Heard Next | Written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks | Macmillan Children’s Books, 2015
Wombat Wins | Written by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley | Angus & Robertson, 2015 The dream team – Jackie French, Bruce Whatley, Wombat and the humans – are back with another diary instalment. This time, we see the wombat inadvertently causing havoc in a kids’ race while on a crusade to find carrots. The wombat is still adorable, mischievous, and oblivious... and I still want one.
The note on the front cover that claims ‘with glitter on every page!’ is enough to grab my attention. Even better are the cute illustrations and catchy words that tell this farmyard version of Home Alone (another reference for those 80s kids!).
Where’s Bear? | Written and illustrated by Emily Gravett | Macmillan Children’s Books, 2015 I am sure everyone can relate to a story about playing hide and seek. There are those who are hopeless at hiding, those who are really good, and those times when someone finds a hiding spot that is just TOO good. This book covers it all. Emily Gravett is one of my favourites and she never disappoints me.
BUBBA WEST /23
Seasonal, local, delicious & nutritious WORDS | DORIS POZZI, SUSTAINABLE LIVING SKILLS TEACHER AND SPEAKER
As a child, I spent many happy hours tagging along while my parents foraged for wild greens, berries, mushrooms and chestnuts. They migrated from the peasant country of northern Italy, up in the Italian Alps north of Lake Como, and brought with them their love of foraging. As I got older, my interest in foraging increased and now my own family's diet regularly includes over 30 types of wild greens – or 'edible weeds', as some people like to call them. In addition to having low food miles, edible weeds are abundant, nutritious and delicious! Delicious? Indeed! Today, you can sample these wonderful foods across a range of Australia’s best restaurants! Let’s look at some of the most common, easily identifiable, delicious and nutritious edible weeds: Dandelion
Dandelion is one of the top six herbs in the Chinese herbal medicine chest. The blossoms are high in vitamins A and C, while the leaf is a tasty, bitter green that is used in salads, soups, stir-fries and herbal teas. Dandelion is a highnutrient food that destroys acids in the blood and can stimulate digestion, as well as cleansing the liver. Dandelion coffee, made by roasting the root, is a wellknown caffeine-free substitute for coffee.
Purslane is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other nutrients like vitamin C. This is true of both the stems and leaves. It is delicious raw, steamed,
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fried or cooked in other ways. The leaves can also be used as a substitute for spinach or as a salad vegetable. In fact, a number of high-profile chefs both in Australia and overseas are now including purslane on their menus!
Nettle represents one of the richest sources of chlorophyll, and is a valuable blood builder (meaning it assists red blood cell formation). It is one of the best sources of iron in the vegetable kingdom, so it is a valuable aid for anaemia. The leaves can be dried and stored as a survival food. Try a raw nettle smoothie by putting a handful of leaves in a blender with pineapple or orange juice.
Important foraging notes:
This pale green, low-growing trailing plant can be used in salads, soups or stir-fries, and herbal tea. It can also be made into pesto, or added to sandwiches and scrambled eggs. Chickweed is very high in protein (15–20 per cent), and is a great source of vitamin C, and iron, as well as calcium, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, magnesium, manganese, silicon and zinc. It is a healing herb for the whole digestive system, and can be used as a poultice for rashes and sores, and as a scrub for acne.
Mallow is easily recognised by the shape of its leaves. The leaves of mallow are edible, and have a very subtle flavour that makes them a perfect addition to a range of dishes. It combines well with vegetables, rice and cracked wheat, and can be used in soups and salads, as well. Mallow has been used in Europe as a food and medicinal ingredient since the time of ancient Greece and Rome. The leaves provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron and vitamin C, and represent an abundant, free source of nutrition.
Your own garden, or those of friends, are good places to forage – keep away from any areas that may have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. Public places can also be good for foraging, keeping in mind these important tips: •
Never eat plants that you cannot identify.
Eat only small quantities of a plant when you are first introducing it into your diet – it could agree with everyone else, but not with you!
Only forage in areas that are free of pesticides and other chemicals.
Fines are applicable for foraging in national parks.
Find a book on edible weeds – preferably one for your specific geographic area and with colour photos of the weeds – before you start foraging.
Go on an edible weed walk with an experienced forager before you start to forage on your own.
Who is Doris Pozzi? Doris is the author of Edible Weeds and Garden Plants of Melbourne, which is available at her website www.edibleweeds.com.au. Edible weed walks can also be booked through the site. Doris has published the children’s book Dylan and Zoe Eat Weeds, and runs the website www.greensmoothiebike.com.au
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www.varisorganics.com.au |Ph: 03 9689 1491 | Email: email@example.com BUBBA WEST /25
MERRY MEDDLERS WORDS BERNADETTE COLLINS | IMAGE SUPPLIED
They spring out of nowhere like ninjas, ready to pounce on unsuspecting parents who dare to pop out for a walk or to treat themselves to a coffee.
or the variety of advice they impart, they look remarkably similar. They are the matronly, recently retired women who’ve dedicated their twilight years to telling new mums how to care for their babies. They are the self-appointed guardians of newborns everywhere. The merry meddlers who know infinitely more than you will ever know about your child's digestion, temperature and disposition. They are the passersby, who, with one swift verbal roundhouse, can knock out your confidence and bruise your self-esteem. I've owned a stout labrador for a few years and have become used to strangers’ unwelcome observations. 'She could lose a few kilos... ooh, she's looking a bit limpy.' But I soon discovered that having a newborn ups the ante considerably. I encountered my first meddler on a street in Yarraville while waiting for my husband to order a couple of takeaway coffees. With our son only about six weeks old, and still feeling like complete novices, we planned our trip meticulously. Our baby was clean, fed, burped, rested: the works. Naturally, with such careful planning, Joseph started to scream the moment we got out of the car. 26/ BUBBA WEST
As I pushed the pram back and forth, I tried my best to maintain a neutral expression. 'He'll sense your anxiety, so stay composed, look serene,' I said to myself. However, a deeper, more sinister inner monologue was in complete overdrive. 'Oh shit, oh shit, shit, shit. Is he too hot? Is he too cold? It sounds like he's choking on his scream? Is he suffocating? Oh shit, he's going to suffocate here on the street, isn't he?' My husband had clocked her eyeing me off from inside the cafe and she wasted no time in darting out to the street to offer assistance. Without acknowledging me, she pulled back the shade cover on my son's pram to reveal his contorted, crimson face. In an instruction disguised as a question, she turned to me and said 'Pick him up?' I know it's not right to hold grudges against people who are less than a year old, but I'm not sure if I'll ever forgive Joseph for falling silent the moment I lifted him out of the pram. Buoyed by a winning strategy for soothing my son, and a passive and compliant mother, she then went ahead to feel my son's cheeks and neck.
the parent hood. Her diagnosis was quick: 'He's had a fright,' she declared. I guess that's another line to add to my pre–going out checklist: Fed? Check. Burped? Check. Hasn't had a 'fright'? Check. My second meddler was in a cafe in Footscray. Determined not to let our new role as parents turn us into hermits, we ventured out for lunch. We figured it may not be the long, lazy, 'havea-coffee-at-the-start-and-a-coffee-at-the-end' lunches we were used to, but it would be an hour out of the house, nonetheless. She, too, came out of nowhere, as though ascending from a trap door beneath my table. All that was missing was a puff of smoke.
To the nannas who speak gently to my son and share stories about their grandkids, you make my day. The occasional run-in with a busybody is a small price to pay for these happy encounters. These are the moments when any doubt I have in myself – and in the decency of others – evaporates and I realise that we're all not doing such a bad job after all. Perhaps we need to tell each other that a little more often.
'You'd better keep your baby away from the door. It's cold outside.'
Who is Bernadette Collins?
'Yes, it is cold today,' I replied.
Bernadette Collins lives in West Footscray with her husband, son and dog. A new mum, she’s taking a year off work to master new skills, like steering a pram and eating with one hand.
She retreated to her table and, for a moment, I felt guilty that my response came off frostier than the weather. That was, until I noticed her mouthing something to me from across the cafe.
It was an exaggerated whisper, like when a racist describes why they don't like their neighbour or workmate and adds incidentally, hand up to the side of their mouth, '...and they're Asian…' 'He's got wind,' she silent-shouted at me. 'W.I.N.D! WIND!' 'He's got wind,' I said blankly to my husband, who was oblivious to what was happening as our son cooed contentedly in his arms. It was time to go, but I could already feel myself overperforming in her gaze. I wrapped my son more snuggly than I ever had before and shielded him from any breeze that may have drifted in his direction. Uh huh. I am a competent parent. No way is my son falling victim to wind – of any kind. My son will soon be 10 weeks old and, as he grows, so too does my resilience and confidence in my intuition as a mum. Because, after all, this is the west, so for every snide sexagenarian, there are at least five sympathetic strangers who offer a warm smile or the right words of encouragement and assurance, at the right time. To the man at Altona Gate, who stopped to tell me that this Christmas is going to be a great one spent with my newborn, thank you! To the amazing lady who offered to rock my pram while I got my eyebrows threaded, you made those 10 minutes so much less stressful!
www.littleginger.com.au BUBBA WEST /27
PARENTS, IT’S TIME WE GREW UP
WORDS ALI WEBB | IMAGE SUPPLIED
My son is two-and-a-half and he’s freakin’ hilarious. He is now speaking in sentences (or ‘fluent tongue’), and the things that come out of his mouth are great, especially for someone like me who has not quite reached a mature level of humour. How do parents NOT crack up and whack their thighs in hysterical laughter when their kid says something like: ‘Mum, I want to take my bum off and sit it on your head and watch the poo.’ Chewed my cheeks. Closed my eyes. Thought about Jimmy Giggle. Did not laugh out loud. Seriously, how does he say that with a serious face and how do I respond with a serious face? I know I shouldn’t laugh at him because that will only encourage him to say 28/ BUBBA WEST
it again... in a dentist’s waiting room... to an elderly stranger who has a giant bum. Seriously. Last week, he told me his fingers looked like doodles, and wouldn’t stop staring at them for days. He poured water on his hands from the watering can just so he could watch his fingers wee. He told the lady at Baker’s Delight about his doodle fingers and she laughed. I walked out empty handed. I refused to buy finger buns that day.
the parent hood. Bit my tongue. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Focused on my pelvic floor. Did not laugh out loud.
one when he takes my dummies. He’s bringing me a big parcel: he can bring you a big doodle just like Daddy’s.’
Heading to the zoo is a joy, purely for the social commentary on animal life coming from my son:
My strong, blank stare focused above his head. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I bit the inside of my mouth to hold back the huge giggle. It was too much for him to handle.
‘Mum, why doesn’t that elephant have a doodle? The other one does. And so does Daddy.’ ‘Mum, is Daddy a lion?’ ‘Mum, can we eat the hippo poo?’ ‘Mum, can I go inside the elephant?’ Pinched my arm. Held my breath. Thought about the washing. Did not laugh out loud. It’s so much fun watching my son discover all these natural delights. But what’s funnier is the absolute refreshing perspective he brings to everyday life, and how hilarious I am with dealing with these moments in which I actually have to behave like a grown-up. When I explained to my son why I didn’t have a doodle (he asked me if it had fallen off when I sneezed), he gently put his hand on my knee and, staring me straight in the eyes, he said, ‘Mummy, it will be alright. We can ask Santa for
‘Mummy, don’t cry. You can have my doodle. I don’t need it coz I can wee out my eyes like you.’
Who is Ali Webb? When she’s not parenting her two-and-a-halfyear-old son Alfie, Ali Webb tries to figure out the difference between Gordon and Thomas and why the producers would create two trains the same colour. But colour is Ali Webb’s thing. She loves to live a colourful life filled with running (after her kid, not for excercise), writing, hunting for vintage treasures, whipping up a macrame or broccoli-shaped cushion and composing raps in her mind about Milo and Sunshine Pine. Ali is a nutcase. Be her friend at www.houseofwebb.blogspot.com.au
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Parenting magazine for Melbourne's West