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Winter 2016


Chrissy Swan on kids and career

MEET MISTER MAKER Maternity care guide

Feeding a family on a budget



Education special

the little things extra nappies and spare goggles, so rushed parents don’t have to worry about anything they may have forgotten. Little things like caring teachers who know when a child needs a little extra attention and welcoming staff that are happy to help when a parent has their hands full of bags, toddlers and towels. At Kingswim, we know it’s the little things that make all the difference.

Let us find the perfect time for your FREE introductory lesson.









KIDS FASHION 12 SNUGGLY CUDDLES With the crisp air of winter, snuggle up the bubs in the most adorable style for babies. 14 MISS HIGH FASHION Let the girls be girls this winter in the most beautiful and classic fashion trends that won’t break the budget.


16 THE JACKET EDIT Serious outerwear for boys can take even the most casual tracksuits to the cutest level of style for boys this winter.

MUM’S FASHION 18 STYLE UPDATE WINTER 16 This season’s hottest fashion picks for mums.



22 TAKING FLIGHT Never afraid to try new things has certainly worked in favour for Chrissie Swan who shares the breathtaking highs and hard hitting lows on her ascent to stardom.


FUNNY MUMMY 28 PLAYDOUGH KING  Funny mummy Ari contemplates the value of dough for kids. 30 MEET MISTER MAKER Mister Maker is coming to town! We catch up with the man behind the spotty vest, Phil Gallagher, in the lead-up to his Australian tour.

REAL LIFE 34 NORA’S BRAVE BATTLE It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to learn their child has cancer, one Naomi and Hannes Holly wish they could wake from.

visit like

38 GENDER DIVERSITY IN CHILDHOOD Supporting children who are gender diverse is essential for them to have healthy self-esteem and grow up into confident, happy and well-adjusted adults.


42 WINTER WARMERS Check out our latest book review section.


44 DHARMA DAD Down-to-earth Gary attempts New Age man.

Australia’s largest gloss A4 parenting magazine

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


PREGNANCY & BIRTH 46 A MATERNAL CHOICE We look into options to consider when it comes to deciding on the right maternity care option for you and your baby.

EARLY CHILDHOOD 59 GET MOVING TO LEARN For young children, active play provides many benefits, most notably the development of social, language and intellectual skills.





62 SCHOOL’S IN Read our Education guide to consider the various schooling options for your child. 71 BAD MUM SEEKS HELP Writer, Emma Clarke, begins to view parenthood as a spiritual discipline. 74 SPIRITUAL ENCOUNTERS An ordinary woman shares her extraordinary spiritual journey, recounting Spiritually Transformative Experiences in her new book, Where the Light Lives.



78 LEAN FOOD ON A LEAN BUDGET Find out how you can keep your family eating healthy food without breaking the budget.

ISSUE 31 WINTER 2016 Produced and published by Offspring Magazine Pty Ltd. ABN: 95 159 474 245 Website Editorial enquiries Advertising enquiries Phone 02 4326 1178 Mobile 0415 267 414 Subscription enquiries



Average Net Distribution per issue.

This publication has been independently audited by the Circulations Audit Board.

Audit Period: September 2015 - March 2016


Managing Editor Kate Durack Contributing writers Ari Chavez, Gary Ausbruch, Kate Bullen, Ngala Parenting Education Team, Brooke Evans-Butler, Elise Papamihail, Claire Armstrong, Tania Connelly, Ben Bradstreet, Lisa O’Rourke, Emma Saurus, Rebecca Teaupa Graphic Designers Steven Lillywhite, Anna Drake Printed by Offset Alpine Printing

Circulation: 130,000 copies per edition across Melbourne, Sydney and Perth

Distribution 130,000 copies distributed in Sydney (50,000 copies), Perth (30,000 copies) and Melbourne (50,000 copies) by paid subscriptions and for free at selected locations. Also available online via Offspring magazine is an independent magazine published quarterly by Offspring Magazine Pty Ltd. Opinions represented are not necessarily those of the publisher. Offspring magazine contains general information and does not claim to substitute for health or parenting advice. All content is subject to copyright, and may not be reproduced without permission.

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

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encounters with The Light.

winter 2016

Spirituality plays a big part in my life – I meditate and do Pranic Healing two hours each day. I think Spirituality


his is a really exciting

can be beneficial in helping

edition for me. With

our children trust in a higher

our Melbourne edition only in its second issue,

power, helping them cope better in times of

we have a whole new set of readers joining the

isolation and stress; plus I believe it makes us

Offspring family. Recently we’ve identified a

calmer, happier, more tolerant parents.

need with our savvy, enlightened mums – they

Our article on Gender Diversity in Childhood

want and need more Spirituality and a broader

is so important. It’s widely acknowledged now

representation of the family experience.

there is a spectrum of gender identity rather than

Two of my faves this issue include “Spiritual

a polarity. We all want to nurture our children’s

encounters” and “Gender diversity in

different identities – and their strengths and

childhood”. I love these because they expand

weaknesses - no matter where they fit across the

ideas on what the parenting experience


encompasses. [We can’t fit all the articles we

It’s Winter and it’s bloody freezing. We need

run across all three hard copy publications but

to DONATE – clothes, blankets, food, cash. We

they will be posted on our website

represent several aid agencies here which would].

love your support.

“Spiritual Encounters” describes how

This issue also includes special features on

an ordinary mum shares her extraordinary

maternity care and education, plus much more.

spiritual experiences including Out-of-Body

Happy reading.

experiences (OBEs), past life recollections and




201606131_Octonauts_Great_Swamp_Search_Offspring_HPH_Ad.indd 1

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

© 2016 Vampire Squid Productions Ltd.

23/06/2016 2:08 pm

Photo: Hilary Adamson,

Editor’s note

Uncomplicated nutrition, pure and simple.

our contributors

ARI CHÁVEZ COLUMNIST has had work published in Australia, England, Japan and Singapore. She has a delightful toddler, Gabriel, who was born with coffee in his veins. She is currently completing her first novel as part of a PhD project.

ELISE PAPAMIHAIL FASHION & STYLE is Mummy to Chloé and Olivia and is a passionate stylist and fashion writer, embracing the latest trends without compromising on timeless style.

GARY AUSBRUCH ACCOUNTANT/COLUMNIST is financial controller for a Perth-based mining company. He has had columns published on the challenging subject of the lighter side of accountancy, and has written for SBS TV. He is married to Sue and has two young children, Ella and Sebastian.

DEVON PLUMLEY MIDWIFE believes her work is most satisfying when she can empower a woman and her partner to birth their baby naturally; and the new little human being thanks his mummy with a squeal!

LETITIA ROWLANDS JOURNALIST Letitia worked for daily newspapers for 20 years covering a wide variety of topics but since becoming a mother five years ago, her writing has focussed on family and parenting topics. Letitia lives in Sydney with her husband and two young sons Hugo and Jasper and enjoys a freelance career writing for magazines and websites.


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

TANIA CONNOLLY JOURNALIST Tania Connolly is a freelance writer who has been published in a variety of magazines. Her passion is people and sharing their inspirational journeys. With a husband and two teenagers life is hectic but she wouldn’t want it any other way.

LISA O’ROURKE WRITER Lisa is a freelance writer and her work has been published in print and online for more than 15 years. She is also a singer/songwriter and the Founding Director of popular edutainment pre-schooler program Rock ‘n’ Toddle. Lisa’s three children (all under eight) inform and inspire her work, and reward both her and her husband daily with precious gifts beyond words.

CLAIRE ARMSTRONG JOURNALIST of 10 years across a range of mediums and publications from mining and financial to bridal and pregnancy. She has a passion for all things parenting and a love of sharing stories about the parenthood journey. She is also a busy mum of three beautiful girls and is a trained post-natal doula.

KATE BULLEN DIETITIAN runs au and is mum to three young children. Kate has translated her love of all things online to providing expert nutrition coaching online – it works well for anyone who is busy! Kate’s passion lies in making healthy eating simple and enjoyable.

BROOKE EVANS-BUTLER JOURNALIST has written for home improvement, bridal and women’s lifestyle publications, but says Offspring enables her to combine writing with her new favourite hobby, being a mum to her boys Caleb and Jonah.

JANE MILLINGTON INTERIOR DESIGNER has over 15 years’ experience in all facets of the design industry including Interior Design, Styling, Sales and Business Development. Jane specialises in colour design and styling of children’s bedrooms and nurseries with her biggest fans being her two children, Samson and Liv.

COLLEEN WILLIS TRAVEL WRITER has roamed the world for many years on her own and with her husband and daughter, Rebekah. During this time, Colleen has been a teacher and an award-winning travel advisor for Australia and overseas. Colleen will guide you through family travel the way she knows best!

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

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Akid $70.00 Let the girls be girls this winter in the most beautiful and classic fashion trends that won’t break the budget. Vintage florals, soft pastel knits and structured blazers ooze sophistication for the little misses. Style blouses and knits paired with detailed leggings and loafers for a more casual look and to impress at formal occasions, a lace dress with an overcoat and ankle boots is worthy of every high-end catwalk.

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

Bardot Junior $69.95

By Elise Papamihail ChiKhi


BigW $10

Boys style update

Witchery $69.95

Acne shirt $60.00 Dsquared2 $301 Tumble N Dry $47.95

Scotch and Soda $78.80

Serious outerwear for boys can take even the most casual tracksuits to the cutest level of style for boys this winter. From bomber style faux leather to preppy structured suits and the softest wool cardigans, here are the best of the best jacket buys for every budget. Throw together with a pair of jeans and snuggle up!

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Minti $82

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Nununu $80.00

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

Pop Factory $90

Pepe Jeans $94.80

Style UPDATE By Elise Papamihail

It’s now the time for a resurgence of classic 90s trends. From glam grunge to making a statement, update your winter wardrobe with these simple go-to looks from casual to special.


One Teaspoon $50 www.

Whether it’s a leather choker, massive statement earrings or a hot statement ankle boot, the statement accessory is one to add to any outfit for instant 90s vibes.

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

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Sequins and embellished details bring life to any outfit. Throw a detailed bomber jacket over activewear for a warm casual look or style up over a dressy maxi dress. Embellished tees as seen at MBFW look super-cute paired with mini leather skirts. Add a plum bold lip and tousled locks for a true 90s comeback.

LEATHER BIKER JACKET A surprisingly timeless trend, the leather jacket has staying power, likely because it is transeasonal whether worn with a flowing maxi or skinny denim and can transform any outfit with a touch of edge.

River Island $200 Free people shirt $165 www.

Elizabeth & James belt bag $292

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne


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Never afraid to try new things has certainly worked in favour for Chrissie Swan who shares the breathtaking highs and hard-hitting lows on her ascent to stardom.


hrissie Swan has time for only a brief chat, sitting in her car ahead of an imperative commitment - her son and a gaggle of his Grade 2 classmates are performing at the school assembly. She keeps a watchful eye on the time to ensure she doesn’t miss getting a decent seat. “If I see too many other mums arriving I will have to run,” she

says before unleashing that distinctive, hearty laugh. It is a comforting revelation that behind her astronomical success as commercial radio broadcaster, Logie winner, TV star and presenter as well as author, columnist and fashion label ambassador, at heart she is a dedicated and relatable mother of three. Thanks to modern technology, complete with connection failures and each believing the other was washed up on some deserted sandy beach from all the static interference, we both find ourselves slotting in our talk amongst the throngs of motherly commitments. “I can’t wait to see him. It will be so adorable. He even has some lines to speak into the microphone,” she gushes about her eldest son, Leo. Who would have thought when the sassie Melbourne born-and-bred brunette threw open the doors to the voyeuristic Big Brother house in 2003, she would become one of the country’s


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

I have a beautiful life. And for the most part I always land on my feet even if it life turns me in a different direction. I would never change it.

most enduring and much loved personalities? Obviously coming runnerup to Tasmanian fish and chip store owner, Reggie Bird, has worked out pretty well. Never afraid of hard work or taking a risk, Chrissie harbours an admirable ability to dust herself off and try something else when things don’t go smoothly. Perhaps observing the monotony of a career-focused, military father unleashed her carefree attitude about her own career. “Stability is rare in the entertainment industry, but I think that has kind of suited me. I’m happy to wait and see what opportunities are around the corner,” she admits candidly. “I have been lucky enough to have been offered some life-changing opportunities and met some amazing people who I can now call my friends. That is more than most people ever get out of their career.” You could easily be mistaken for thinking her trajectory to stardom has been effortless, dabbling in a bit of morning radio in Queensland shortly after leaving the house, before packing up and heading home to take her seat between radio veteran David O’Neill and then newcomer Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson on Vega 91.5FM breakfast radio. She quickly garnered a loyal following of fans thanks to her warmth and quick wit. But she openly admits she was the wrong fit for the struggling station that was subsequently relaunched as Classic Rock and then again as Melbourne’s 91.5 after she was axed at the end of melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


2009. But paying her dues to the airways opened the door to Network Ten’s morning chat show The Circle alongside Yumi Stynes, Gorgi Coghlan and Denise Drysdale in 2010. This stint cemented Swan as a household name after snaring the coveted Most Popular Female Presenter Logie in 2011 and a nomination for the elusive Gold Logie. Amongst the bustle of car tyres and slamming doors of fellow school mums flooding into the surrounding carpark, she recalls her time on The Circle as one of the highest peaks of her career, a setting that allowed her true colours to shine. But after two years as part of the ensemble Chrissie stepped back into the arms of brekkie radio citing the elusive hunt for better work-life balance with two little boys tugging her heartstrings. “I remember the discussion I had with my partner, Chris about my work on The Circle when I decided I just couldn’t do it anymore.” There is a distinct solemness to her voice. “I loved the work so much so it was a tough call but I had to choose between an amazing job or savouring the opportunity of being mum. You don’t get to do over being a mum if you miss it. So I had to leave knowing another opportunity in television might never come my way.” The switch from The Circle to Melbourne’s MIX 101.1 to form one half of the side-splitting duo with Jane Hall finally gave Chrissy a radio gig that felt like home, she claims; ‘’proof of the old adage that when you work with your friends, you never work a day in your life”. And her hesitations over never returning to television were quickly

I loved the work so much so it was a tough call but I had to choose between an amazing job or savouring the opportunity of being Mum.

squandered when the offer came knocking to host the second, and third series, of Can of Worms. After a particularly unceremonious eviction from MIX she didn’t have to wait long for the phone to ring, and in typical Chrissie fashion she shrugged and said “why not?”, and signed up to the jungle asylum on Network Ten’s reality show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. “Six weeks of having absolutely nothing to do gives you plenty of time to untangle a lot of thoughts,” she muses that this was really


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

the only positive to being homesick and starving in a bug-ridden jungle, apart from befriending Joel Creasey and putting on the

Stability is rare in the entertainment industry, but I think that has kind of suited me. I’m happy to wait and see what opportunities are around the corner.

backburner plans for a comedy duo. “I can’t believe I survived without my kids or partner for so long. It was so much harder than I ever expected. But I would have missed out on some great life lessons if I had gone home early.” There was a moment in that South African jungle that still

anything for granted and without seeing my career as all that I am.” She humbly says her career is a place for personal growth and boundless new friends. New to her friendship rolodex are the jaw-

brings a tear to Chrissy’s eye - when young Leo peeked around the

dropping pint-sized word whizzes she embraced with big-sister-like

shrubbery to see her for the first time in weeks, the rawness of the

support on The Great Australian Spelling Bee.

embrace etched in TV history. “I missed him so much, I never wanted to let him go. It was a

“Weren’t they just amazing?” she gushes. Her words hasten as she describes the completion of filming the

beautiful moment and people still come up to me in the street to

second series of the hit show earning her another 18 little friends,

tell me how moved they were and we have a little cry together,”

but she is cautious with her promise that it will air sooner, rather

she brims.

than later, without giving a specific launch date.

Alongside her loyal devotees are the ever-watchful critics and Chrissie has felt the dagger more than most, harshly taking aim at her parenting choices and body weight. But she holds her

She relays anecdotes of backstage happenings and post production catch-ups, proudly boasting involvement in a secret Facebook group with her “gang”, old series and

head high, claiming since her debut appearance in the

new. It is clear she was the right person for the job.

entertainment industry 13 years ago not one personal

“I love keeping in touch with them and

interaction has proved negative. “If anybody in the public eye listened and lived according to what was written about them, we’d never leave the

hearing all the goss from their lives. They are such amazing kids.” Her love and compassion for people has also

house,” she is uncharacteristically brusque.

bid her in good stead for her latest role on the

“People in general are supportive, yet

television series Long Lost Families, reuniting

something happens when they are sitting

families from all walks of life, which also filmed

behind a computer screen, but that is

this year.

only a very small amount of people so it doesn’t really make sense to give them a lot of energy. “I don’t care about scandals or what

“Oh man, that show is just extraordinary,” she boasts. “I just had no idea about people, the resilience and the heartbreaking stories. That show has been my baby for the past seven

people think about my decisions because

or so months and I just love it. I am so proud of

only I know all the facts. I adore my kids

it. It has been eye opening and heart warming at

and I really enjoy my work without taking

the same time. melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


“I remember sitting in the lounge room with this gentleman in the Northern Territory, there was just the cameraman, him and me and he starts telling me this

Maybe one day I will work out what I really want.

incredible story about his life and it hit me

“It is pretty normal to them. They have never known anything else, but the sevenyear-old is not really impressed by it, but he likes the shows I work on,” she stifles a laugh to avoid startling a passerby.

that he has probably never shared this with

“I just got the strangest look sitting in my

anyone ever before and here I am, listening

car giggling to myself,” and she starts laughing

and it doesn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I have come to realise what an honour I have been given being a part of all of this. “Some stories make you realise how fortunate a life you have had.

twice as hard. Her sanguine acceptance of reality doesn’t mean she doesn’t experience self doubt or remain wary of her future career prospects.

I have a beautiful life. And for the most part I always land on my feet

She claims she’s learnt that sometimes, a gamble doesn’t pay off - and

even if it life turns me in a different direction. I would never change it.

that’s OK - you just have to see what is around the next corner.

Life is always a work in progress.” And her life’s current progress sees the juggling act of yet another

“I’ll keep slotting swimming lessons and football games alongside filming and radio commitments for as long as I can,” she says.

gig on breakfast radio as host of Chrissie, Sam and Browny on Nova

“Maybe one day I will work out what I really want. I would like to

100 alongside the filming of the two television series, yet she tells me

write a novel, one day, when I find the time.

this is the first time that her life hasn’t felt completely manic. “The kids are all in their own beds - well, no - they all go to sleep in their own beds - there are no more nappies, bottles or plastic

“I have got to run, there are loads of other mums arriving and I don’t want to miss getting a good seat.” And she is gone in a flurry of adieus to soak in her son’s fleeting youth.

spoons around the house. It feels that there are no more babies and things are a little more manageable,” she says with a sigh of relief. Chrissie’s partner, Chris Saville - affectionately referred to as The Chippie on air - has taken on the challenge of being a stay-at-home-dad to their three kids, Leo (7), Kit (4) and Peg (3), in an effort to balance homelife with Chrissie’s hectic professional schedule. And what do the kids make of having a famous mum?

Life is always a work in progress.


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne



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FUNNY MUMMY with Ari Chávez


The great existential question that has been bothering me lately is, who the hell invented play dough? And how do we punish them?


’ll be frank. Play dough is one of the great loves of my son’s life. He is the king of play dough, in fact, and I freaking hate the stuff. In fact, I hate it so much I hide it in a big plastic tub

behind walls of chaos in the labyrinth of things-that-need-tobe-sorted-out-but-I-cannot-currently-deal-with that I call our garage. I hide it so well that pretty much no one can ever find it, not even me. Except the child. The child has a sixth sense about both hidden play dough


places, and hidden chocolate biscuit places, I’ll give him that. He does not have a sixth sense about where his shoes, socks, school hat, library books or swimming goggles are, which would be far more useful. It’s all about motivation I guess. He can find that damn play dough tub in about half a nano second. He will never, ever find his school hat or his second running shoe. As far as play dough goes, his modus operandi is quiet stealth, which I should have cottoned onto by now. If ever my kid, who is in the habit of providing a running narrative of exhausting questions I am required to answer non stop, is ever quiet I know he’s up to no good. NO. GOOD.


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

Sometimes, however, I just need to sit down and have a cup of tea, stare blankly into space and not answer any questions. Heck, sometimes I don’t KNOW THE ANSWERS TO HIS QUESTIONS, ISN’T THAT WHAT GOOGLE IS FOR? The kid knows the game. He will ask me a series of stupendously tedious and exhausting questions, while he observes me sidle towards the teapot so I don’t lose the will to live. In these moments of weakness, he everso-quietly tootles up the hallway and slips into the garage, scales the pile of stuff for the council pick up, like a mountain goat, and seizes the play dough tub toot suite. Then he drags it into the play room and sets about making a complicated sea anemone that he saw some deranged mother, who has nothing better to do, make on YouTube. Of course, his sea anemone looks nothing like the YouTube mother’s sea anemone. OF COURSE IT DOESN’T. That YouTube play dough mother has an online play dough making course she’s selling. Why the heck else would you make a sea anemone out of play dough? My son, bless his play dough loving heart, is not wise to the ways of crafty-YouTube-mothers-making-a-buck-on-the-side. He will spend five minutes trying to make his sea anemone look like a sea anemone, and not like a lump of pink and yellow stuff, and then yell, “MAMA, CAN YOU HELP ME?” Obviously, the only thing to do is to pretend not to hear. Never works. “MAMA, HELP PLEASE! HELP PLEASE! MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! MAAAMMAAAAAAAAAAA!” The point is, this could go one for hours – me pretending not to hear, and the child chanting my name like some sort of mantra. The other point is, I will crumble first. So the only way to deal with it, is to sit down with the child and try to make a play dough sea anemone while fobbing off questions about why our sea anemone looks so rubbish in comparison to the YouTube one. Toot suite.

He will ask me a series of stupendously tedious and exhausting questions, while he observes me sidle towards the teapot so I don’t lose the will to live. ™

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring



Mister Maker is coming to town! We catch up with the man behind the spotty vest, Phil Gallagher, in the lead-up to his Australian tour.


have finally become ‘cool’ in the eyes of my children. My

However, when my phone rings at

secret? Telling my boys that Mister Maker was going to be

10.03am (only three minutes after our

calling me. ‘That’s so cool Mum! You are so cool! Can you

interview was scheduled), Phil apologies for

ask him how to make a rattle snake? Can you ask him to come

keeping me waiting. I tell him it is fine because

to our house?’

of my new ‘Cool Mum’ status and he laughs, asks

It was at that moment I felt a bit nervous about the interview

all about the kids and tells me to say hi to them from

– and what I would tell my kids about Mister Maker afterwards.

him, and that he would love to see them at the show.

After all, I had to remember I wasn’t going to be speaking to Mister Maker, but the man behind the spotty vest and spiky hair, Phil Gallagher. It is always interesting when you interview someone who you see on television every day – there is a feeling that you know them already – so sometimes it can be a shock when they are not as you imagined them to be.


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

He is lovely (cue Mum Crush) –

What should I include in my child’s ‘doodle drawer’? If your child’s art and craft box only consists of paper and pencils, Phil offers some of his top arty material inclusions: • Pom-poms (Phil says they are his favourite arty material) • Googly eyes (or you can use white stickers and draw on the eyes with a black pen) • Pipe cleansers • Gloopy glue

and it is clear, from the onset, Phil loves being Mister Maker. “Getting this job was the best day of my life and every day is even better,” he reflects. “It was always my dream to be a kids’ television presenter and the live shows have taken on a life of its own. It is beyond my wildest dreams.”

“I’m so excited to be coming back to Australia. This year we are bringing the biggest


Phil say s ‘pom-pom bugs’ are his favo urite ar ty ma ke. “It wa s somet hing I made wi t h my gran dad wh en I wa s lit tle. I s t ill have on e I made over 30 year s ago, which I t reas ure.”

show we have ever done.” I do not think Phil could ever have imagined how big ‘Mister Maker’ (and other series’ including Mister Maker Comes to Town, Mister Maker Around the World and the new Mister Maker Arty Party) would become since first airing on our screens in 2007. It now plays in over 100 countries and live shows are touring around the globe (he tells me that as well as touring around Australia and New Zealand, he will also be taking the latest live show to Hong Kong and across the UK later in the year). Perhaps the popularity of the show comes from the fact that the show inspires parents to set up arts and crafts for children


Not the glitter…If you curse Mister Maker when you are cleaning up glitter after your child creates a masterpiece they saw on the show, Phil offers a handy ‘glitter clean-up tip: “A piece of sticky tape is a good trick. Gently push it onto a surface and the glitter sticks to the tape.” “I do apologise to all the grown-ups about glitter,” he says. “Quite often parents will come up to me with a smile, put their arm around me and say ‘Why, Mister Maker? Why the glitter?’. I apologise for that. If it’s any consolation, I find glitter everywhere. My mum came to my house yesterday and as I was making her a cup of tea she remarked how much glitter there was in my kitchen... It follows me everywhere.”

who are crying ‘I’m bored’, without fuss or expensive materials (and we know from Mister Maker’s ‘minute makes’ that you don’t necessarily have to put aside a whole afternoon to create something).

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


When I ask Phil what he believes is the main benefit of doing arts and crafts for children, he says the key thing is confidence. “When I was growing up I loved making things. I got a lot of pride from what I made, so I believe art and craft generates confidence,” he says. “That is not just for children but for grown-ups as well. I often have parents and grandparents talk to me after live shows and they say thank you because the show has shown them that they can

ARTY information go to – and if you T IP: techniques. Once that has been taught, we hope do see Phil out-and-about, Mister Maker loves “Recycle and to inspire whatever age that they can have a meeting his fans. “Quite often it is the growncollect materials go – and the materials are easily attainable. ups that stop me first,” Phil says. “A lovely to use – somet hing It makes me pleased and proud that thing is that children don’t expect to see t hat is ordinary t hat people surprise themselves.” me in any other way than in my spotty you can t urn into t he The tour commences June 25 waistcoat and spiky hair, so it can take ext raordinary. Plan ahead in Hobart – with performances a while for a child to comprehend following in Melbourne, Sydney, what’s going on. It is lovely when and s tar t your own Adelaide and Perth. For people say hello – grown-ups ‘doodle drawer’.” be creative and they can be arty. That is the cause of the show at its very core – to teach simple

complete tour and ticket


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

and mini makers alike.”

Real Life I want Nora’s story to be told so parents feel they can question doctors, nurses, anyone, regarding their children. Especially first time mums.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to learn their child has cancer, one Naomi and Hannes Holly wish they could wake from. BY TANIA CONNOLLY

Nora’s battle with

Photos: Krystle Ricci

Neuroblastoma O

n 2nd February 2016, the lives of Naomi and Hannes Holly were thrown into turmoil, when tests revealed a malignant tumour strangling their eight-month-old daughter’s spine.

No-one can confirm if it existed at birth, or pinpoint when it first appeared. All Naomi knows is, she wants it gone. Nora, who the couple affectionately call, their ‘Ginger Ninja’, is little sister to two energetic brothers: Jonte (6) and Johnas (4). Naomi recalls all three pregnancies and births as unremarkable, with the exception of feeling nauseous whenever she consumed anything sugary, while pregnant with Nora. Naomi proudly claims her little ‘Pocket Rocket’ was crawling, pulling up and using push-toys at seven months. “She was actually quite ahead of all her milestones,” Naomi recounts. Three days prior to their life-changing diagnosis, Naomi placed her grizzly baby down for a nap, thinking she was teething. When Nora woke, Naomi noticed her legs weren’t kicking. She placed her baby at the coffee table and Nora’s legs buckled beneath her. “She was just gripping onto the table,” she says. “She wasn’t doing any weight-bearing at all.” Naomi said Nora’s sudden inability to move her lower limbs was as if a switch had been flicked. An initial consultation at hospital resulted in a doctor deciding Nora’s

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


[I want] to make it a really special one because you don’t know if it’s the first of many or her …” Naomi stops as she cannot bring herself to say ‘last’ condition was ‘behavioural’, which Naomi says, she refused to accept. Blood tests and x-rays of Nora’s legs and hips were then arranged. “That’s when they said there might be something suspicious in her right leg, probably a toddler fracture.” A plaster cast was fitted to only one leg which unsettled Naomi as she suspected Nora’s issues involved both limbs. Her uneasiness escalated when she witnessed her baby’s condition worsening. She says when Nora struggled to sit, she feared the problem could be spinal and expressed her doubts, “What happens if she ends up being paralysed or her organs stop working?” It appeared to her as though something was creeping up Nora’s body. The concerned parents deliberated over driving to childhood

Naomi’s eyes fill with tears when she recalls the moment doctors

specialist hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children

mentioned neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer consisting of

(PMH), but chose to wait until Monday. Naomi thought the weight

specialised nerve cells, which commonly affects infants. A large tumour

of the plaster cast might have hindered any improvement but,

spanned the length of Nora’s spine from her T1 vertebrae to her T8,

“Come Monday morning, she was like a little rag doll”.

pinching her spinal cord to 85 per cent, causing the loss of mobility.

Now really worried, Naomi raced Nora to PMH where staff

“A bit of disbelief [and] a lot of grief,” is how Naomi describes

removed the cast because, she was told, there was actually no

her feelings after the diagnosis. During five hours under general

evidence of a fracture. Unfortunately, multiple scans booked for

anaesthetic, Nora underwent an MRI, CT scan, biopsy and lumbar

the morning following Nora’s admittance uncovered something far

puncture. “Hard day,” Naomi whispers, “A day I won’t ever forget,

more sinister.

that’s for sure.”

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

Parents know their children the best, so keep asking until you are happy. Don’t ever feel silly for asking. Follow your instincts.


Real L

Emergency chemotherapy and steroids were administered that Tuesday. “We didn’t know how long her spinal cord had been crushed for or what permanent damage had been done. We still


didn’t know if she would ever walk again.” Nora endured three days of chemotherapy and gradually regained strength. “She made progress every single day. You could see her getting stronger and stronger, that’s just her spirit.” Coming to terms with the enormity of their situation, Naomi says, “It was hard. My first reaction was like, how am I going to juggle this? How am I going to be there for my boys and my husband as well? I felt really disjointed from what was going on in their lives. As much as family time was important before, it’s just got a completely new depth.” She credits her “awesome support network” for helping her and Hannes get through some tough days. The anxious parents waited two weeks for test results that would

6-9 July, 2016 Union Theatre University of Melbourne Parkville

clarify if the cancer had spread to Nora’s bones and if the MYCN amplification gene was present, which indicates a more aggressive tumour. Those tests returned negative but Naomi explains an MIBG test, where nuclear dye is injected, showed several smaller ‘satellite’ tumours. The initial chemotherapy was followed by further rounds every three weeks. After every second round Nora had an MRI and MIBG

Tickets 9384 1644

to monitor her progress. Naomi says the tumour shrunk 36 per cent

Music by Lyrics by Book by Alan Menken Howard Ashman & Tim Rice Linda Woolverton

after the first two rounds, but with no significant changes since then

Originally Directed by Robert Jess Roth

Nora’s immune system completely crashed and she developed a rash requiring a week in hospital on antibiotics.

Originally Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions Licensed exclusively by Music Theatre International (Australasia). All performance materials supplied by Hal Leonard Australia.

Photo: James Gillot Photography

the doctors opted to operate. Surgery was booked for May 6 but

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring




On Friday 13, three and a half

believes if the plaster cast had remained on, Nora

months after diagnosis, doctors performed

might have been at risk of becoming paralysed, as

open surgery. Naomi says they completely

essential treatment would have been delayed.

detached the tumour from Nora’s spine,

According to Neuroblastoma Australia, the

removing 90 per cent of it, although a tiny

disease is so rare, and symptoms can be vague

amount remains attached to her aorta.

and mimic other illnesses, so making a diagnosis

Three days later, Nora was weight-bearing

can prove difficult. On behalf of St John of God

and walking around her hospital cot. Now back

Hospital, Midland, Dr Lachlan Henderson

at home, she is crawling and furniture-walking

stated that their staff, “undertook investigations

as if nothing happened. Her gorgeous smile

based on the clinical presentation” of Nora, and

and lively demeanour belie the internal battle

had consulted with PMH regarding treatment.

raging within her tiny body, making it difficult

The Hollys were also advised to return if Nora’s

to understand how her prognosis could be

I wish to see her grow into a beautiful woman.

anything but positive. Taking a deep breath, Naomi wipes away tears and says it’s a matter of “wait and see” to gauge the tumour’s response to treatment. “They’ve given her a 70 per cent chance of survival. She will probably be having tests every three months just to monitor it and make sure it doesn’t come back, or

condition deteriorated. It will be Nora’s first birthday soon. “[I want] to make it a really special one because you don’t know if it’s the first of many or her …” Naomi stops as she cannot bring herself to say ‘last’. Tears flow freely as, almost inaudibly, she shares her hope for Nora’s future, “I wish to see her grow into a beautiful woman”. Naomi adds, “I want Nora’s story to be told so

it doesn’t grow somewhere else. For the next five years, and probably

parents feel they can question doctors, nurses, anyone, regarding

for the rest of her life, we’ll be on edge.”

their children. Especially first time mums. Parents know their

Naomi is aware that even if children survive this cancer, it’s

children the best, so keep asking until you are happy. Don’t ever feel

possible they may not survive the side effects of treatment, which is why she hopes radiation is unnecessary and chemotherapy is limited. She admits to feeling angry towards the original doctors. She

silly for asking. Follow your instincts.” If you wish to help the Holly family, please donate to https://






Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

Living Textiles new muslin reversible blankets. Available in Baby blue and toffee. Soft and moden knitted blanket. Made with 100% cotton. Living Textiles “Bear Essentials” mobiles come with the soothing sound of the Lullaby ‘Wiegenlied’ to help relax your baby to sleep. Available in: Grey/white, blue/white, pink/white & brown/white.

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Australia’s largest parenting media



By Ben Bradstreet


s it a boy or a girl? This is one of the first questions asked when a new life enters the world. Even before

birth, we are curious about the gender of a baby. Once we know that the baby is a boy or a girl, it can influence so much- the colour of clothes, decoration of nurseries/bedrooms, the type of toys

Supporting children who are gender diverse is essential for them to have healthy selfesteem and grow up into confident, happy and well-adjusted adults.

and most importantly, how we perceive and treat the child. Little boys are so often seen as tough, rowdy bruisers and


Undoubtedly there are differences between “male” and “female”, but how these differences are expressed is societally constructed and changes remarkably throughout history and between cultures. What happens to the sensitive side of “tough, rowdy, bruiser” boys in our society, and how about the aggressive or assertive parts of our

“sensitive, beautiful princesses”? We can all be restricted by the gender norms we are ascribed,

little girls as sensitive, beautiful princesses. Parents, other family

however, those of us who are born gender diverse generally have

members, friends and general society subtly and explicitly

a particularly hard road to travel, due to societal expectations

encourage gender norms from the time we are born, to the time we

that our gender expression/identity will match our genitals. The

die. It is worth considering what gender actually is.

majority of the time, this is exactly what happens, but a significant

Offspring | winter summer 2016 2016 | melbourne | perth

minority of people simply do not feel that their body matches

human experience. Issues arise due to how an individual that

their inner experience of who they truly are. We all have a role

is gender diverse is stigmatised, isolated, pressured and even

in making the road these children travel much less hazardous,

persecuted by the world around them. This is what must be

and by contributing to a society that is less rigid in gender

changed for all people in a society to live safe, fulfilling lives.

expectations, we may all benefit by being free to be who we

When gender diversity is present in childhood, it is useful to consider developmental stages to guide how

truly are, not only what we are expected to be.

best to support the child. Up until the age of three,

Gender diversity can be defined as a spectrum of

young children have no fixed gender identity. Their

behaviours, expressions, identities and feelings which

understanding of other people’s gender is also fluid.

society deems as atypical of a person’s biological gender. It is useful to think of gender diversity as a

This period of life should be approached with

spectrum, rather than simply categories of “male”

a high degree of acceptance of fluidity and experimentation.

and “female”, because people can feel

When children up to the age of three

somewhere “in between”. Gender diversity may be experienced at any

behave in ways atypical of their biological

point in life, and people will either

gender, it is simply a reflection of their lack

express or suppress this diversity,

of categorisation, it is play, fun, learning

largely in response to how safe and

and experimentation. Parents and other

accepting their social world is or is

carers can join in with this play and show


pleasure at their child’s exploration. The worst thing to do would be to force

A core concept to keep in mind is that gender diversity is not the

gendered behaviour, as this will not make

problem, it is a natural reflection

sense to young children and runs the

of the complexity and variety of

risk of causing shame and confusion.


D V D N O W E N CELEBRATE EVERY TIME 201606131_Fireman_Sam_Great_Escape_Of_Pontypandy_Offspring_HPH_Ad.indd 1

© 2016 Prism Art & Design Limited. © HIT Entertainment Limited. HIT and the HIT logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited.

23/06/2016 2:15 pm

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


PARENTING From the age of two to three-and-a-half, children are particularly

have created include gender

susceptible to feelings of shame and doubt, which they can be

neutral toilets, gender neutral

assisted through supporting their growing independence in

approach to toys/play, support

play, experimentation and undertaking simple tasks. This way

for clothing preference of

of supporting them can be applied to any and all expressions

children, use of pronouns/names

of gender. It is not important as to whether it is typical of their

that children choose and strong

biological gender or not, just that they are encouraged and

anti-bullying programmes which


include a focus on acceptance

After the age of three and up to the ages of five to six, children

of gender diversity. The goal

are starting to work out some of the differences related to biological gender and may become very curious about body parts and functions. However, even up to the age of six, some level of fluidity, or errors in terminology are common in relation to gender. Answering questions about bodies and gender openly, focused on the question of the child, rather than adding information that may be beyond their understanding, assists children to learn about gender and bodies at their own pace. Continuing to be accepting of fluid concepts of gender, rather than asserting norms, will

of these

We all have a role in making the road these children travel much less hazardous, and by contributing to a society that is less rigid in gender expectations, we may all benefit by being free to be who we truly are, not only what we are expected to be.

also provide space for children to develop their

changes in both primary and secondary schools is to allow gender diverse children the space, safety and support to work out who they are in relation to gender, throughout a period of life which is characterised by fluidity. In later childhood and pre-adolescence, children are well aware of gender categories, differences and norms. For those who are gender diverse, the awareness of being different is likely to become more pronounced. Support is required within the

own gender identity, while maintaining healthy self-esteem. For

home, schools and other settings such as sporting teams to ensure

children in this developmental stage, there are big transitions to

that differences and diversity are accepted and ideally celebrated,

navigate, such as beginning pre-school and primary school.

rather than targeted as a source of shame.

If your child is presenting with signs of gender diversity, and


policies and

Older children can be assisted to find settings and friendships

especially if they show signs of distress at any pressure to conform

where they feel they fit in, and to consider their capacity to

to gender norms, it is very important to consult with others

adjust behaviours and interactions in ways that result in positive

involved in your child’s education and care. It is advisable to ask

interpersonal experiences. It is important to only encourage

what their approach to gender diversity is and to ask for changes

kids to adjust their own behaviours and choices in ways that are

to be made that will assist your child in these big developmental

affirming and authentic to them. Placing pressure on a gender

transitions. Some of the policies schools and child-care centres

diverse child to “fit in� and adopt societal norms, rather than

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

focussing on adjusting social settings to be safe and accepting, is unfair and ultimately damaging to children’s development, well-being and selfesteem. Adolescence can be a particularly difficult time for gender diverse people.

If your child is presenting with signs of gender diversity, and especially if they show signs of distress at any pressure to conform to gender norms, it is very important to consult with others involved in your child’s education and care.

go on to “transition”, which means taking hormones and sometimes undergoing surgeries to ensure their physical body matches their inner gender identity. This transition process is not the same for all, and it is important to consider gender identities other than the binary opposites

The hormonal and

of “male” and “female”, as this does not

physical changes

always represent an individual’s personal

associated with

experience of gender.

puberty, along

Whatever pathway a gender diverse

with the complex

child takes into adulthood, the irrefutable


fact is that they will be more happy, healthy

task of developing a stronger sense of self, is

and self-assured if we as parents, families and a society offer

often fraught for many. Imagine how much

support, acceptance and love, which often means challenging

more difficult this period would be if your

rigid norms of behaviour that restrict us all.

body and its biological sexual characteristics were developing in a way which was severely contradicting your inner sense of self. Gender diverse adolescents may become distressed at these changes and develop a sense of alienation, ambivalence or revulsion toward various aspects of their bodies and ways that society perceive them and pressure them to be. Unfortunately, gender diverse adolescents are at higher risk of mental health issues, risk-taking behaviours and suicidality. They can be protected if they receive strong family and social support which affirms their inner gender identity, and access to medical and psychological services. A medical intervention for gender diverse adolescents which is becoming much more accepted is to commence “puberty blockers”. This hormonally halts the onset or progress of puberty, giving the gender diverse adolescent respite from distress related to unwanted bodily changes, and an opportunity to decide later whether they wish to start taking hormones of their affirmed gender, or stop taking puberty blockers and commence the process of maturation in their biological gender. Puberty blockers are safe and their effects are reversible, which is important in giving the young person time to decide what is best for them. Adolescence is a time of experimentation and identity formation, and gender identity will play a part in this process for all teenagers, but for those who are gender diverse and experiencing distress, more support is required. Longitudinal research into gender diverse children indicate that there are three main outcomes. A portion of gender diverse children will integrate their own sense of gender and be comfortable to identify as their biological gender. Others seem more likely to identify as diverse in sexuality later in life. Meanwhile, those who experience persistent gender diversity may


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melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


By Rebecca Teaupa,

Book REVIEW 0-3 years

Animal Parade Puzzle Book | Aino-Maija Metsola

A cheeky monkey is bigger than a parrot, but a parrot is bigger than a fish, which is bigger than a butterfly. Animal Parade is an interactive puzzle book that explores the characteristics and features of various animals, whilst introducing young readers to the concept of size. The vibrant, bold illustrations and simple, rhyming text will have early readers engaged throughout. Animal Parade is recommended for readers aged 2 to 5 years who will thoroughly enjoy this playful and visually attractive book, whilst being educated on first concepts.

Cheeky Monkey Manners: Taking Turns | Lisa Kerr Cheeky Monkey is having trouble remembering to take turns when playing with his friends. Taking Turns introduces young children to the early learning concept of sharing. The introduction of a sand-timer or holding a pebble is presented as a potential solution for taking turns and adults (myself included) may choose to utlise this method, in conjunction with the book, when teaching children in their everyday lives. Taking Turns is recommended for readers aged 1 year and over and the bright coloured illustrations and animal characters will engage young readers as they learn an essential lesson in manners.

3-6 years

You Have My Heart | Corrine Fenton and Robin Cowcher

On good days and bad days and all days in-between…you have my heart. Young readers explore emotions via a red balloon that travels on a monochromatic journey of ‘tears-tumbling-down days’ and ‘the world-doesn’t-like-me days’, only to grow stronger and fly higher, visually representing the premise of unconditional love in a childfriendly manner. You Have My Heart is a soft, heartwarming book, recommended for readers aged 3 and over, and will be enjoyed by both young and old, particularly grandparents, parents or parents-to-be.

What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? | Virginie Morgand Every day grown-ups leave the house to go to work, but where do they go and what do they do? Young readers are given the opportunity to visit fourteen different workplaces and meet a variety of grown-ups undertaking different tasks, from jobs at a school to roles on a farm. Before the specific jobs are introduced readers are presented a colourful double-page spread and given the opportunity to guess the jobs, adding an interactive and playful element to the journey. What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? Is recommended for readers aged 4 to 7 years and children will enjoy the bright exploration of the ‘secret’ life of grown-ups and perhaps even discover potential aspirations for their own future careers. 42

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

6-9 years

9-12 years

for adults

Tiny Timmy Makes The Grade! | Tim Cahill

The Gutsy Girl

Hipster Baby Names

Caroline Paul

Tobias Anthony

Tiny Timmy has been selected for the Rep Team, but after sitting on the bench during the first few games wonders if he will ever get a chance to prove himself. Tiny Timmy Makes The Grade! is based on the life of Socceroos Legend, Tim Cahill and although, the narrative is based around soccer, themes of bullying, competition, teamwork and acceptance are present, making this a relatable text for all schoolaged children. Tiny Timmy Makes The Grade! is recommended for readers aged 6 to 10 years and is a great choice for a first chapter book with its simple text, illustrations and age-appropriate themes.

Girls, do not let fear get in the way of adventure and living the life you want. Author Caroline Paul was a shy child who went on to undertake numerous escapades and in The Gutsy Girl shares her experiences and those of other females so that young readers may gain the confidence to seek out their own adventures. Included are; girl hero profiles; quotes from strong females; tips, including how to create a good impression, the self-confidence stance and calming breathing techniques; and also pages for journaling, so that readers can begin to record their own thoughts and intentions.

This is a book for busy hipsters to assist them in choosing the perfect name for their future trendsetters. In its introduction, Hipster Baby Names hilariously declares that it has compiled a list of baby names for hipsters who are far too busy on social media, building terrariums and queuing for trendy food trucks. With names like Indie, the perfect fringe festival companion, readers will be laughing along at the suggestions and the accompanying commentary. Hipster Baby Names is a humorous, tongue-in-cheek read for adults, who will undoubtedly hear the ‘really, really, ridiculously good names’ across parks and school playgrounds in the near future.

Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade

Timmy Failure: Sanitized For Your Protection

Mindfulness For Mothers | Rebecca Ryan

Kate and Jol Temple and Jon Foye

Stephan Pastis

Jimmy wants to win a holiday to Hawaii to continue the expedition of ‘the greatest explorer who ever lived’, Captain James Cook. Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade intertwines historical facts with hilarious fiction. Young readers will relate to the age-appropriate references to smartboards, Taylor Swift and cat videos on youtube and will laugh out loud at Jimmy’s commentary about his mother’s fermented food, a school-wide outbreak of constipation and his hat that ‘gives him an edge’.

Timmy Failure, the world’s greatest detective, is on a mission to discover who stole money from Yip Yap. The hilarious narrative follows Timmy on a road-trip, as his laugh-out-loud commentary is interjected with illustrated snippets of car and motel-life, including his sidekick Polar Bear and a kid named Snot. Themes of friendship and family are explored, including blended families, all, however, delivered in an age-appropriate and comical way.

Mindfulness For Mothers is a book of exercises in mindfulness, specifically designed for mothers, to make a difference in feelings of health, wellbeing and connectedness. Mindfulness For Mothers guides the reader through a variety of meditative exercises that can be conducted during natural breaks in your day, for example, before you start the car or switch on the TV. Rebecca Ryan writes from the perspective of a mother of two, who also lost her mother at a young age, and therefore understands the significance of mindfulness, that is, being present, alert engaged and alive.

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring



with Gary Ausbruch

Dharma dad Down-to-earth Gary attempts New Age man


t happened on a Tuesday, halfway into a 20-minute guided

pretty disciplined with physical fitness, but from now

meditation. That morning I’d already done an hour-and-a-quarter

on, the focus had to be on mental fitness.

of yoga, taken two horrible-smelling brown pills and five mls of

But all of sudden, that morning I’d just had

horrible-tasting brown liquid, and recited my daily list of positive

enough. Cutting off the Englishman in my

affirmations. The next evening I had the second of an eight-session

ears who was supposed to help me clear

personal development course I’d booked into.

my mind but actually annoyed me

These things were all part of my new stress management strategy,

because he emphasised a hard g

developed after a particularly challenging period in my life where I

in every ing word (made even more

was sick on and off constantly. With tests showing that nothing was

annoying with the number of double ings he

actually physically wrong, I realised my symptoms were a result of

managed to weave into his directions: “Feel the breath bringing

the mental stress I placed on myself. I was literally worrying myself

you calmness with each inhalation”), I yanked out my earphones. I

sick. Just the usual stuff, like work pressures, the health of someone

mumbled my own ing word about meditating.

close to me, the ups and downs of family life, and being a Dockers supporter.

I thought about the other aspects of my strategy. There was the twice-weekly yoga. Although my bakasana was amongst the best

I decided I needed to take control of the situation. I’d always been

in the class, there were times recently where it felt like a stretch,

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

well, more than just the pleasant stretch it should be. I swore I’d strangle the instructor the next time he called downward facing dog “a resting pose”. On more and more occasions, my “breathing and lengthening” was in danger of becoming holding (in of frustration) and shortening (of temper).

notice a difference. And while I still told myself every morning that “I am a calm, relaxed person”, I made much more of an effort to feel those words, rather than just say them, and tie them into the other things I was doing to manage stress. So far, it’s working. I think the main realisation I’ve had is that rather than throw a whole bunch of techniques at stress, stress

Then there was the cash I was burning on all of this. Horrible tasting brown liquid doesn’t come cheap! Especially when half the medical profession would

management comes down to a couple of things. Firstly, that our thoughts are just thoughts, not reality. And that to have more control over our lives, we need to be able to control our thoughts

“I’d always been pretty disciplined with physical fitness, but from now on, the focus had to be on mental fitness. “ question if it’s more effective than

better. Although in saying that, it’s pretty easy to sound like a self-

the brown dirt and leaf soup my

development guru, but a lot harder to put into practice.

kids used to mix up with a stick in an ice-cream bucket in the garden. How had I reached this stage? The things that were supposed to help me manage stress were actually having the opposite effect. My stress management strategy was stressing me out! So, for the next couple of weeks, I decided to take things down a

I’m still keeping the meditation going, but doing mainly shorter ones, or a longer one when I feel like I really need some help, like after a Dockers game. Plus, I moved on from The Annoying Ing Meditation Guide. The app I use now has a guide with an Australian accent, who I’m getting on with much better. If only he didn’t pronounce the word you as ya,

notch. I only went to yoga once a week. I didn’t eat brown dirt and

my mind would be able to focus completely on letting my thoughts

leaf soup, but cut down on the naturopathic remedies to see if I could

move on, just like leaves on a gently flowing stream.

Ages 3–8 Years Old


T r i a l s N o w! Ava i l a b l e

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Having a baby? Before you start shortlisting names or preparing the nursery it is important to work out where you are going to bring your bundle of joy into the world. We look into options to consider when it comes to deciding on the right maternity care option for you and your baby.

A maternal choice

By Brooke Evans-Butler


hen I walked into my GP’s office (positive pregnancy test in-hand) the first questions I was asked was regarding my choice of maternity care. ‘Congratulations! So, do you have health

insurance? Do you have a preference of obstetrician and hospital?’ I must admit, my head was spinning…I had found out I was going to be a parent an hour prior, and was already being asked about how and where I wanted to have my baby. However, it is a big decision – and is ideally something that you should research even before you get pregnant. But what is the right decision for you? We look into the options – whether you are considering public or private care or a home birth..

Public or private? Dr Gary Swift, Vice President of National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NASOG), says all who are involved in the area of pregnancy and childbirth strive for optimal care and outcomes – however the public and private models are inherently different.

Private care If you choose private care, you get to choose an obstetrician to care for you throughout your pregnancy and for the birth of your child. Dr Swift says private care is based on a one-to-one relationship between the woman and her specialist for antenatal care, detection of problems and ultimately safe and timely delivery. “Personal wishes and concerns are easily addressed when the same clinician is involved at each step,” he says. “This relationship is important equally for the most straightforward and complex of pregnancies. Issues of primary elective Caesarean Section if desired tend to be more easily accommodated in the private sector.” 46

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

private cover is that you

Choosing an obstetrician

usually have the option of

An advantage of having

a private room (having a

private care is you can

bathroom to yourself after

choose the obstetrician

birth is always an added

who will be caring for you

bonus!) and many private

throughout your pregnancy.

hospitals give you the option of

“The choice of obstetrician

having your partner stay with

will be an individual

you. The rooms (and meals) are

one and is often based

usually of a higher quality than

on several factors – GP

An advantage of choosing

recommendations, advice

at a public hospital (some rooms are like lovely hotel rooms) as a general rule, allow new mothers

of friends and family and in modern times internet based research

longer stays after birth than public hospitals or some have

probably figure prominently,” Dr Swift says. “Women who have undergone IVF or other assisted

arrangements with 5 star hotels for part of the post-partum stay.

reproductive options may stay with the same doctor if it is an

There is often some out-of-pocket costs associated with private care, so find out your chosen obstetrician’s fee schedule and check

option and many will see the same specialist for gynaecological

with your health cover provider exactly what is covered so you can

issues prior to pregnancy and will have already established

be prepared.

rapport. For some, the gender of the specialist will be important for personal, religious or cultural reasons. Ultimately it will be a personal choice and for a successful professional relationship,


issues of personality, trust, experience and professionalism will be

Most private health providers will have a waiting period for obstetrics (pregnancy) of around 12 months, so if you will need to have this option on your health insurance policy in advance (before you get pregnant) if you want private care. (Check with your health insurance provider about their waiting periods).

foremost. “Some hospitals in capital cities will have a list of accredited specialists so that if the choice of hospital is important they will have to choose one from the list and some may not be available if they have reached capacity and closed their books. “Women in Australia can be confident that specialists who hold the FRANZCOG qualification are suitably trained and

Mother-of-three Monique Wilson chose private care for all

credentialed to provide the highest quality specialist services.

three of her children and says she would highly recommend this

The prices charged may vary but will generally reflect the level of

care option. “I chose to have my baby in a private hospital because

experience and training and the costs of running a private practice

I had cover and liked the idea of having the same obstetrician

in a particular area.”

through my pregnancy and picking one that I felt comfortable with,” she says. “I ended up having my first child six weeks


premmie and it was at my obs appointment that the obstetrician

It is important to remember that obstetricians are human too (they take holidays and can get sick) so it is not guaranteed that your chosen obstetrician will be present at your baby’s birth.

picked up an irregular heartbeat. The bill for his stay in hospital was $15,000 and we didn’t pay a cent. I also enjoyed having my own room and we were given a choice from a buffet for all meals. I loved the treatment we received.”










10 0 %

–––––––– P L A T I N U M ––––––––


melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring



You have one-on-one care of your chosen obstetrician Many private hospitals offer private rooms so your partner can stay overnight with you Generally, private hospitals allow new mothers to stay longer after the birth of their baby for recovery.

birthing and junior doctors attend for suturing of tears or episiotomies. Trainee specialists provide the majority of services under the supervision of qualified specialists. “Short stays are the norm with home visit services often covering breast feeding issues as


primarily care for low risk women for normal

Having a baby at a private hospital is more expensive than in a public hospital (check with your health fund about what you are covered for).

lactation may not have been established before early discharge. Primary elective (maternal request) Caesarean Sections are not usually available in the public system. There is no cost for Public Hospital Services for

Public care “Public hospitals fundamentally have to deliver the best service possible to a larger population within the government prescribed budget,” says Dr Swift. “Hence, antenatal care is delivered in a

Australian Medicare Card holders so

Private Obstetricians must have visiting rights at the hospital where you choose to deliver your baby.

for many, especially without private health insurance.” Jodi O’Callaghan decided on a birthing centre (through a public hospital) for the birth of her daughter. “After falling

clinic format in which a different

pregnant I looked in to my options for birthing

attendant is seen on each occasion

and decided I wanted to be in control of my birth,

and varying levels of qualification from intern to specialist.

with as little intervention as possible,” she says. “I also did a

Specialists tend to see the more complex and high risk cases.

hypnobirthing course to help me overcome any fear of birth and

Long waits are not uncommon in these clinics.

to empower me to bring my daughter in to the world with the help

“Labour and delivery management will depend on level of risk and complexity with staff allocated accordingly. Midwives


this will be the only affordable option

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

of my husband and a midwife. “When you go through a Birth Centre you are encouraged


You do not get a choice of carer and often will see many staff throughout your pregnancy and birth Often have shared rooms Partner cannot stay overnight Short hospital stays for the new mother and baby after birth.


There is usually no cost when you have your baby through the public system Mothers-to-be with low risk pregnancies may have the option of giving birth at associated birthing centres, adjoined to the hospital Public hospitals usually have lower intervention rates (such as caesareans etc).

“I was in the Birth Centre for no more than three hours and then spent one hour in surgery, under what I found to be excellent to labour at home as much as possible and attempt drug free

care. I was then transferred to a private room in the maternity

if the labour progresses as it should be. That coupled with my

ward where I spent five nights being supported by midwives to

hypnobirthing techniques to draw on meant that by the time I

get the hang of breastfeed and get to know my baby. I had not

got to the Birth Centre I was 8cm dilated. Two and a half hours

requested a private room, so it was a lovely surprise. I received

later my daughter Stella was born! I had some tearing and needed

excellent care from the public system and was not out of pocket

surgery, but I had achieved my birth plan goal of being drug free

for any expenses. If I have another baby, I would not hesitate to go

for the birth.

through the public system again.”

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melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Choosing a hospital

When choosing a hospital, there are various things to consider including:


Obstretrician Private obstetricians must have visiting rights at the hospital where you choose to deliver your baby. So if you have a preference of obstetrician, this will limit the hospital you can choose from because

The location of your hospital is an important factor (remember

you will have to have your baby at the hospital where the obstetrician

you will be going to various appointments including your


obstetrician appointments and antenatal classes) – and of course, no one wants a long drive when they are in labour. Some women will choose a hospital close to their workplace (or close to available babysitters for older children). If

Rooms Many private hospitals will have the option of your partner staying with you overnight in a private

Some selected room, but it is best to check the possibility of you are going through the public system, you hospitals offer the this with your hospital if this is important usually cannot choose which hospital you ‘Look @ My Baby’ service. to you. Usually you will share a room in would like to go to – because due to high For a small fee, this service enables a public hospital, although some public demand, some hospitals will only be you to invite family and friends to see hospitals will also offer private rooms, able to accept mothers-to-be who live your baby without even coming to the locally. hospital! Your family (even those interstate or overseas) can see the baby via a secure Facilities Most hospitals offer tours live video stream (straight from a special of their maternity wards, Is labouring in a big bath or birthing ‘cot cam’) to capture those first yawns so take a look around so pool part of your birth plan? If you have and stretches and special moments. you are familiar with the any specific requirements or wishes, To find out more information go to facilities before you are in check with the hospital regarding their


facilities so you make the right choice.


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but if they do, this is usually dependant on availability.

Home birth Some women choose to give birth at home with the support of a midwife – and Cherie Nixon, coordinator of Homebirth Australia, says being in the comfort of your own home with a good support team can create a calming birth experience. She says being in familiar surroundings can be good pain relief in itself – and at home women can also use a birth pool, TENS machine, massage and natural therapies like aromatherapy. Cherie says choosing a home birth offers great one-on-one care – offering support throughout your pregnancy, labour and birth, as well as postnatal care, with some visits until the baby is six weeks old. “You have your own midwife caring for you throughout your pregnancy – your midwife knows your past

Most midwives recommend a woman book into a hospital prior to the birth, so if in the event the woman needs to be transferred to hospital during the labour, the hospital already has the mother-to-be’s details onhand.

and your medical history. They come to your

Cherie says that word-of-mouth is the best way to find a midwife – however, you can go to the Homebirth Australia website, www. and find a midwife using their ‘search for a midwife’ search option. Cherie says most midwives recommend a woman book into a hospital prior to the birth, so if in the event the woman needs to be transferred to hospital during the labour,

house for appointments, which is great if you have other children,

the hospital already has the mother-to-be’s details on-hand. It should

and it is a good relationship offering one-on-one care,” she says.

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melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


caesarean section, so if the mother wants pain relief or if complications arise, they will have to be admitted to hospital and their midwife can go to


hospital with them as a support person. Dr Swift says NASOG does not support home


birth. “The intrinsic nature of childbirth is that although it is a

You are able to stay in the comfort of your own home You are under the care of a midwife throughout your pregnancy and birth You get to choose who is present at your birth.

Aside from natural measures, pain relief (such as an epidural) is not available if you decide you want it If there is an emergency you will have to be transferred to a hospital.

wonderful event for most, it is intrinsically dangerous and unpredictably so in some women,” he says. “Low risk can become

the responsibility to provide this. We know that despite our best

high risk with minimal notice. There are so many potential

efforts adverse outcome occur in hospitals, but we at least have

problems which can occur and lead to the loss of the mother of

the opportunity and potential to rescue adverse events and

baby or both which cannot be reliably predicted or catered for

monitor babies to prevent hypoxic injuries. We know from data

in the out of hospital environment. It is possible to understand

in countries where out-of-hospital births occur that the maternal

the desire of women to birth in an environment which is secure

and neonatal mortality is more than 10 times higher than it is in

and familiar, however the potential for tragedy in NASOG’s view

hospital births. Ultimately it comes down to compromising the

supersedes this.

birth environment for safety for the mother and child.”

“Every child has the right to a safe birth and every mother the right to survive labour and delivery. As clinicians we have


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

As a nurse, Jackie says choosing a homebirth was an easy decision. “I guess this has come from my experiences

professionally and my

every part of it, you have

knowledge through

invited people into your

my profession of all

home to help you have

the benefits that come

your baby, as opposed to

with a homebirth,” she

hospital where midwives

says. “It was really very

are assigned to you,

important to me to have

people wander in and

a drug free birth, not

out of the birthing rooms

because I wanted to be

and it can become a bit

perceived as a superhero

of a circus at times, this

or anything other than a

I knew wouldn’t work

woman having a baby, but because of the benefits that a drug-free, natural birth brings. “There are less bonding and breastfeeding issues with mums who have fully connected with their bodies and babies throughout labour. The best place to have a drug-free birth is at home, as there are no temptations to be had. The gas isn’t in the corner as a constant reminder of what you could have, the doctors and midwives are not in your

for me. I knew I needed

At home it is your environment, you are in control of every part of it, you have invited people into your home to help you have your baby, as opposed to hospital where midwives are assigned to you

face saying things like “well the anaesthetist

privacy, quiet and control. And then finally because my partner felt like he could be a bigger part of the experience at home rather than hospital, especially afterwards, he wasn’t going to be rushed out the door because it isn’t visiting hours, he can help care for our new baby in the comfort of our own home and bond with our baby 24/7 like me.  “I personally don’t have anything to compare to as this was my first baby but my

is here now so if you think you might want an epidural later you

homebirth water birth was the best experience of my life. I was

best have one now so he doesn’t have to come back!”.

never once scared, I never considered transfer to hospital, I never

“Also at home it is your environment, you are in control of

thought I couldn’t do it.”

Ages 3–8 Years Old


T r i a l s N o w! Ava i l a b l e

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


All the actual birthing experiences were all pretty much the same, I never saw a difference in care at that stage. I preferred private to public after birth though. In the private hospitals there was more ‘luxury’ (bigger rooms, bigger beds, carpeted floors, a small fridge and my own tea making facility). health cover long before I started having children.” Angela’s first child Aiden, was born via caesarean section at a private hospital. For her second child, Charlotte, she changed doctors (at another private hospital) so she could try for a VBAC. With her third, Elizabeth, she was living rurally and chose to give birth at the local public hospital. For her fourth baby, Bryce, Angela chose to go back to the private hospital where Charlotte was born, so she could be closer to her family.

Did you know? Each year, over 75,000 women give birth in Victorian hospitals, with three quarters of these births in the public system.

“All the actual birthing experiences were all pretty much the same,” she says. “I never saw a difference in care at that stage. I preferred private to public after birth

Source Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria

though. In the private hospitals there was more ‘luxury’ (bigger rooms, bigger beds, carpeted floors, a small fridge and

The power of choice No matter what care option you choose for you and your baby it is important that you are happy and comfortable, so if you

any time was important. I also felt a bit lost and forgotten at the public. “At the allocated rest hours the nurses would sit and chat at

are not happy with your experience you can change hospitals,

the nurses’ station, which wouldn’t allow me to sleep. I left the

obstetricians or switch between private and public care for

hospital after a day and a half because I felt I would get better

subsequent pregnancies.

care at home with cups of teas from my husband but stayed all my

You might choose to switch between private and public for

allowed days in the private hospitals. As the birthing experience

subsequent pregnancies if:

was no different I would advise women to only go private if

• Your health insurance waiting period is over (you might want

the aftercare is important to them. The nursing and medical

to go for private care if the reason you chose public care for a

staff do their best no matter what hospital so that to me isn’t a

previous pregnancy was because of the waiting period).


• If you had a caesarean for your first baby and want to try for a vaginal birth after caesarean (a VBAC). Not all obstetricians

Your support person

will recommend trying for a VBAC, and may recommend you

The person you choose to be your support partner during the

go to a public hospital or to try another obstetrician.

birth is also an important part of your maternity care choice. Your

Mother-of-four Angela Davies has experienced private and

options include:

public care – choosing a private hospital for her children Aiden (6), Charlotte (4) and Bryce (10 months), and a public hospital for her daughter, Elizabeth (2). “The main reason for my original feeling about wanting to go


my own tea making facility). Being able to make my own tea at

Partner or family member/friend Many women will choose to have their partner as their birth support person. However, if you do not have a partner, if for

private was seeing my sisters have their children,” Angela says.

any reason your partner cannot be there (because of work

“My oldest sister went public for her second child because they

commitments, travel, illness etc) or if you and your partner feel

couldn’t afford the health insurance and I remember her saying

like you would be better supported with someone else present,

she found sharing a room was not pleasant. While she always

you can choose to have someone else at the birth. A mother, sister

went to the feeding room to feed to keep the noise down for her

or close friend are great options – if you think they are someone

roommate – her roommate wouldn’t and her baby cried a lot.

who will be a calming influence and be supportive of you.

“So my impression of birthing was that it was amazing and if

Sometimes a woman may want more than one support person (for

you wanted you could pay for things that would make it easier to

example her partner and her mother), so check with your hospital

transition in to motherhood such as a private room. I also didn’t

about how many support people are able to accompany you (often

like the idea of healing and having boobs out and having to try and

if you are having a caesarean only one support person will be able

be quiet for others if I was sharing a room. So I paid for private

to accompany you into theatre).

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

Midwifery student This involves a midwifery student attending some antenatal appointments with you, being present at your baby’s birth and seeing you in the days/weeks after the birth. For the midwifery student, attending appointments and the birth offers invaluable experience and, for the mother-to-be, offers another support. You can enquire about having a midwifery student join you for your pregnancy and birth experience, by contacting the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Curtin University, Notre Dame University or Edith Cowan University. If you decide you do not want a student to be present at the birth after all, you can opt out of the program at any time.

Doula A doula (or birth attendant) is a non-medical person offering support to parents throughout pregnancy and birth. A doula does not give medical advice or perform any medical procedures, but can assist a labouring woman and her partner with non-medical ways to calm and comfort, such as massage and breathing. To find a doula or for more information, go to the Australian Doula College website,

Having a baby in Melbourne? Here are some options: Mercy Hospital for Women, Heidelberg – This teaching hospital offers public and private care for patients, and can offer care for women with high risk pregnancies. It also features a neonatal intensive care unit if your baby requires. The Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville – This hospital offers pregnancy care for women who live in the local area – and women who live across Victoria who require tertiary care (such as women with high risk pregnancies).  The Bays Hospital – Rooms feature en suites and enable partners to stay overnight. The hospital features a level 2 nursery if your baby requires. In 2013 The Bays Hospital, which is an accredited ‘Baby Friendly Hospital’ was voted the highest ranked maternity hospital in Australia in a survey conducted by Medibank Private. Go to Frances Perry House – This private facility is co-located at the Royal Women’s Hospital. The maternity unit features a level 2 special care nursery if your baby requires. There is also a Parenting Program at Grand Hyatt Melbourne, which gives the option of transferring to the Grand Hyatt after your baby’s birth, after the approval of your obstetrician. There are a number of videos on the website that take you on a virtual tour of the facilities at Frances Perry. Go to www. Epworth Freemasons – This private hospital operates on two sites (Clarendon St and Victoria Parade). There is a special care nursery if your baby requires. You can take a virtual tour of the facilities through the website, Maternity/Maternity-Tours/Pages/Virtual-Tour.aspx. There is also a maternity hotel program with Park Hyatt Melbourne, with the consent of your obstetrician. Jessie McPherson – This private hospital is co-located with Monash Medical Centre Clayton. Facilities include a 24-bed maternity unit, special care nursery if your baby requires, as well as a parent lounge and breastfeeding room. *Note: check with your chosen hospital when you book about

There are many other hospitals offering maternity services in Victoria. For details go to au/hospitals-and-health-services/patient-care/perinatalreproductive/maternity-newborn-services/maternitynewborn-care or talk to your GP for their recommendations and advice when getting your referral.

their facilities and services for the most up-to-date information.

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Safety and Care for Mums and Babies at Epworth Freemasons

Peninsula Private Hospital – Maternity services Peninsula Private located just off Peninsula Link is the largest and most advanced private hospital servicing Mornington Peninsula and surrounding regions. Their midwives are committed to supporting families through this special time, whilst delivering quality care in a family-friendly environment and providing a little luxury along the way. Fathers are welcome to stay. Maternity Services are supported by on-call obstetricians, paediatricians and a special care nursery for babies needing a little extra care. The hospital’s Emergency Department opens in August 2016 further enhancing quality care to the local community. For more information visit

At Epworth Freemasons you’re always in good hands.


Epworth Freemasons has had an exceptional reputation for the care of women and their babies for more than 20 years. With guaranteed private rooms combined with stays at the Park Hyatt, Day Breast Feeding and Assessment Centre, anaesthetic cover, an à-la-carte kitchen and lactation specialists on hand, it’s not surprising that Epworth Freemasons is one of Victoria’s most popular private maternity hospitals. They are also very pleased to announce that ‘HighFlow’ is now available in their Special Care Nursery. This means a quicker recovery period for the babies that need additional respiratory support.

With state of the art equipment and highly trained staff with over 20 years experience, at Epworth Freemasons we pride ourselves on the excellent outcomes we deliver for both mums and babies. For more information call 9418 8300 or visit us at A great place to be born.

Epworth. Better.

56 Offspring |1 winter EPWF0126_FA2.indd

2016 | perth

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Get moving to learn By Wendy Muller, Ngala Practice Consultant

Children experience the world through their senses and express their intelligence through physical activities. While children’s knowledge of the world is at first limited by a lack of movement, as they develop physically, so too do their brains.

or young children, active play – particularly unstructured


The vestibular sense helps our body handle movement and

free play outdoors – provides many benefits, most notably

is the main organiser of all sensory input. Receptors in the inner

the development of social, language and intellectual skills.

ear give us important information about movement, gravity and

The combined roles of senses, coordination and movement all

vibration. Every time your child moves his head, crawls, uses a

play very important parts in the development of a child’s brain.

swing, jumps up and down, runs around in circles or rolls down


We are perhaps more familiar with the senses of smell, taste,

a grassy slope, for example, his vestibular receptors receive stimulation. The vestibular system helps with many tasks and abilities, such as bending over to pick something off the floor,

visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and touch. However we also

walking, maintaining seated posture during class, and staying

have two additional senses – the proprioceptive and vestibular


senses. These senses, once integrated, form an important foundation for later intellectual abilities. Proprioception, for example, is responsible for telling us


Motor coordination is the control that infants and children have

where our body parts are without us having to look at them. This

over their movements that help them master their environment.

awareness relies on receptors in the various parts of the body,

Normally gross motor coordination develops first, followed by

such as joints, muscles, and connective tissues, and allows us to

fine motor coordination. Gross motor coordination involves using

develop an internal body map, which helps us complete many

the larger muscles and joints in overall body movements such as

different tasks such as reading, writing, buttoning our shirt and

crawling, standing and walking.

being able to sit on a chair without falling off. We can strengthen

Fine motor coordination involves the refined movements of

this sense by encouraging our toddler to push a pram, bang on

smaller muscle groups and joints, such as wrists and fingers. Each

pots and pans, and throw balls.

motor skill is a building block for the next more coordinated and

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


refined movement. For example, a fine motor task such as grasping requires that head and shoulder postural control has developed and is active while the child reaches and grasps at the same time.

Movement and strength Strong tummies and backs allow

for good trunk control, necessary for sitting upright at a desk or even when sitting on the floor. Providing young babies with supervised tummy time is the start of developing this core strength. Physical endurance is crucial to help children pay attention for the duration of the school day, rather

the brain. The left side of the brain controls

than tiring out by lunch time. Strong

the right side of your body, so when you move

shoulders are vital in providing a solid

the opposite arm and leg you are stimulating

base from which the arm and hand can

your brain to develop more neural pathways.

perform precision movements (e.g.

Crawling, for example, improves the left-right

writing, cutting, and typing).

brain integration and helps develop balance,

Movement helps brain function by improving the interconnections

strengthen muscle tone and develop hand-eye coordination.

between the left and the right side of

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

The National Physical Activity Recommendations for Children Birth to Five Years (2013) recommend that: F  or healthy development in the first year, encourage physical activity – particularly supervised floor-based play in safe environments (tummy time). For the first six months, physical activity includes reaching for and grasping objects and turning the head toward stimuli such as the sound of your voice. From six to 12 months, your baby learns basic movement skills such as crawling, pulling up to a standing position, creeping while using an object for support, and finally walking. T  o promote movement, provide colourful and moving mobiles that they can reach and grasp or kick with their feet. Play with your child on the floor and encourage them to “come and get” toys within crawling or reaching distance. Provide them with opportunities to play with large blocks, stacking toys, nesting cups, textured balls, and squeeze toys. T  oddlers (one to three years of age) should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day. Physical activity includes active play, learning to run, jump and gallop; the development of some stability skills such as balancing and climbing; and

control skills such as kicking, catching, throwing and rolling.  rovide them with a variety of movement activities P that introduce basic gross motor skills such as striking, kicking, catching and bouncing balls of different sizes and shapes. Give your toddlers a variety of objects they can manipulate, such as building blocks, rings, and large puzzles. Encourage them to develop their fine motor skills by allowing them to scribble and draw with crayons and pencils. Infants, toddlers and preschoolers should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive, for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping.  lways remember that each child is unique and will learn A best within loving relationships, when they have had adequate nutrition and sleep.

For more information contact and the Helpline number is (08) 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 (for WA country callers.)

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melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


School’s In Choosing a school for your child is a big decision – so how to you ensure you make the right choice for your child? BY BROOKE EVANS-BUTLER


ll parents want the same thing from their child’s school – for their child to be happy, learn and thrive in a supportive environment. There are many wonderful

government schools but there are many other options available, from schools providing a religious-based education, to schools that have a teaching philosophy that differs from the mainstream. Do your research and talk to the schools and other parents to help make your decision – and remember that you know your child best so you will make the best decision for your child and family. We take a look at the range of schooling options available

some choice when it comes to choosing a Government school for

for your consideration.

your child. If you wish to enrol your child in a government school that is outside of your local government school zone or district

GOVERNMENT/PUBLIC According to ABS Schools Australia, in 2015, 65.2 per cent of

(for example, you might wish to enrol your child in a school that is close to a grandparent’s house or to your workplace) you can apply – but a place is not guaranteed.

students in Australia attended government schools, while 34.8 per cent of students attended non-government schools. If you want to enrol your child into a local government school,

In addition to your options if you are considering government schooling, there are also independent public schools, which are government schools that have increased autonomy to make

you should note that each school has an ‘enrolment zone’, so

decisions at a local level. Like government schools, independent

you will have to check which school zone your address falls into.

public schools do not charge tuition fees to parents or have

However, even with these school zones in place you do still have

Why I chose a public school for my child For Mel Hearse, the choice to send her boys Max and Sam to her local government school was an easy one because she says they live in a great school district. “We plan to send them onto the high school as well as we are lucky enough to be in the school district for a high school with a lot of quality programs that many kids apply for out of district, so there was no need to get them into a feeder private school in primary school,” she says. “If we weren’t living here and guaranteed a spot at the high school, I would have explored more private schools but as we do, it became unnecessary.”


Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

selective enrolment processes.

INDEPENDENT According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, in 2015, the Independent school sector enrolled 586,800 students – (that is 16 per cent of total school enrolments in Australia). The independent sector represents a large range of schools including Christian, non-denominational Christian schools, Jewish, Steiner, Montessori, Islamic and Community schools “For parents, the wide range of independent schools means they have more say on the type of education they want for their child,” says Valerie

Gould, executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia. Dr Geoff Newcombe, executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, says parents often choose an independent school because the school’s ethos and values reflect those held in the home. “This may relate to the religious faith or other cultural factors that are important to the family. For students, a significant element of an independent school education is the focus on pastoral care provided by many schools, which

Why I chose a christian school for my child Karen Morton chose a small private Christian school for her girls Laura and Emily. “Although we do not practise religion at home, we do believe in Christian values and are happy for our children to learn about God. We love the close ‘family’ atmosphere that our school has, and the smaller class sizes mean more individual attention for students. While we understand that there are always going to be some bad influences wherever they go, we think that in a Christian school they are far more likely to learn in a gentle and positive environment.”

helps to develop a very strong sense of community and inclusion for students and their families.” “Many independent schools also provide a very wide range of subject choices or extracurricular activities, such as music, drama and sports programs,” he says. “Another significant


attraction of independent schools is that many are

Tracey Puckeridge, CEO Steiner Education Australia, says every

combined K to 12 schools –allowing a student to

school has to meet the same curriculum requirements – the

start and finish their entire schooling in the same

difference with Steiner schools is the way they teach.

school.” For information on independent schools,

In the early childhood sector, experience is based on play in a Steiner school. The children do not use computers or iPads, but

go to The Independent Schools Council of

learn through imitation. All toys are made from natural materials

Australia’s website,

and the space is set up like a home environment.

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Why I chose a steiner school for my child Karen Lacey spent a lot of time researching different styles of teaching and decided on a Steiner school for her daughter Chimaera for a number of reasons. For starters, the sense of community was something Karen wanted for her children. “We don’t have a very large extended family and after moving lost regular contact with most of our friends. The Steiner school lifestyle seemed (and has so far proven to be) almost like joining a family. It’s a holistic approach that is not just about learning, but a way of life in which cooperation and contribution is promoted and relied upon, freely given and never demanded. I wanted my daughter to grow up feeling like she is part of something bigger than just herself and her immediate family because I believe that tie, which exists for everyone but seems so rarely felt, is crucial to positive mental health and wellbeing.” Karen says this is particularly important to her because Chimaera is on the autism spectrum. In addition, because Chimaera is face blind, Karen felt that having a class teacher that stays with the child throughout their schooling instead of changing every year was a great advantage.


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Pre-kindy programs

In Western Australia, it is becomi ng popular to enrol your child in pre-kindy or ‘three-year-old kindy’ programs. These privatel y-run programs offer a gentle introduction to scho oling and many parents believe they give their children a head start in their schooling life. Note: some non-government schools offer three-year-old programs, but your child attendin g this program does not mean you automaticall y have a place in kindergarten or pre-primary at that school – you still have to ensure you put in you r enrolment application forms.

usually be asked to attend an interview. You do not have to be Catholic to attend a Catholic school, but enrolment priority is usually given to Catholic students. However, Catholic schools are very inclusive, so ask your local school about

Why I chose a catholic school for my child “The curriculum is based on the developmental needs of the children in each year to engage the child at each stage of their development,” Tracey says.

their enrolment procedures. According to Ross, Catholic schools focus on the development of the whole child. “They are more than just test results,” he says. “Catholic schools strive to meet the unique

Aimee Waller says she will be sending her son, Riley, to a local Catholic school. “We are Catholic and I like the community spirit of a Catholic school,” she says. “I am a Catholic school teacher as well so that helped make the decision.”

“A unique feature of Steiner education is that children will have the same teacher throughout their primary years,” Tracey says. “This creates the opportunity for strong relationships between teacher, student and the student’s family. One of the highest indications for excellent learning outcomes involves positive student/teacher relationships.” For information on Steiner schools, go to

needs of every individual student.” “Catholic schools are animated by the mission and tradition of the Catholic Church stretching over more than 2000 years,” Ross adds. “In their work they exhibit a deep commitment to

Christian values, the example of Jesus Christ and his teachings. This means Catholic schools, among other things, often display a deep commitment to social justice and prioritise the needs of their local community.” For more details about Catholic schooling, go to


MONTESSORI The Montessori philosophy is different to ‘mainstream’ education,

According to the National Catholic Education Commission,

with an emphasis on independence, by providing an environment

more than 760,000 students are attending Catholic schools in

of activities for children to use at their own pace.

2016. Ross Fox, executive director of the National Catholic

Christine Harrison, president Montessori Australia Foundation, says Montessori thinks about the whole child.

Education Commission, says Catholic schools are very inclusive.

“Our view of education is as an aid to life – to help them grow

“In recent years the fastest growing student groups in Catholic

from childhood to maturity. Each child is individual… and we

education have been indigenous students and students with

encourage each child to follow their own path of learning.”

special needs,” he says. If you want to enrol in a Catholic school, you must contact

Children are in classes of ‘multi-age’ groups. For example, children aged three to six years will be in the same class.

the individual school to put in an application. Submitting an application does not guarantee you placement, and you will melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Christine says children work to their ability with sets of materials in a prepared environment, and allowing children to work to their own capabilities adds to their concentration and self-esteem, and encourages them to think creatively and independently. “Montessori has been around for over 100 years and it is proven to help the whole child in a holistic way,” she says. She recommends parents go to a Montessori school to see for themselves the philosophy in action and to see how Montessori can benefit their child. Christine also says there are also Montessori long day care centres with programs for babies and toddlers, which may appeal to parents of younger

Why I chose a montessori school for my child Eva Schmalkuche was a Montessori student herself, so with fond memories of her time there, it was a simple decision to send her son Jaxon to a Montessori school. “I like that the class sizes are much smaller with a mix of ages, so the older students help the younger students,” she says. “Their philosophy is attractive because it allows the child to choose what they want to do, and they learn things other than the curriculum including sharing, socialising with older students and responsibility.” “There is a lot of misperception surrounding Montessori – but it’s a fantastic grounding,” Eva says. “Why not give it a try? Parents considering Montessori should not fear something that is not main stream – the Montessori community is open for discussion and is very welcoming.”

children who want to get a taste for the Montessori philosophy. For more information go to

HOME SCHOOLING In Victoria, to start prep (the first year of primary school), a child needs to turn five by the 30th of April of the year they start school. It is compulsory that a child be at school the year they turn six. For more information about school age requirements and for further details about schooling in Victoria, go to and check with your chosen school about their enrolment requirements.

Parents are the first educators of their children – so why not consider home schooling and extend this important role to their everyday schooling? Stuart Chapman, director of Homeschool WA, says parents chose home schooling for a number of reasons including: • Bullying. • Not being happy with the academic progress of their

child at school. • Concerns about behaviour. • Concerns with the

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Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

friends who may question a parent’s ability on being able to educate their child.” However, he says the advantages are many. Although some people worry about the opportunity for home schooled children to socialise with other children, Stuart says home schooled children learn better social skills because they interact with children and adults of different ages instead of only their same-age peers in the school yard. There are also advantages to the child’s education, including the opportunity for increased parent/child interaction and ensuring your child gets lots of one-on-one attention. “A parent is a highly motivated educator,” he says. “A teacher is a paid employee who will never make the sacrifices a parent will. Parents will always make the extra effort.” For details, go to or the Home Schooling contact in your state.

culture of the school. • Deciding to home school their child with a learning difficulty. Stuart says there is a lot of support available for parents wanting to take the plunge, however, they need to consider the time they can commit. “Home education involves a huge commitment on (the parent’s) behalf,” he says. “In some cases they will need to drop, reduce or reschedule work commitments, and they need to come to grips with some negative attitudes from family and

Why i chose home schooling for my child Nancy Van Ross decided to home school daughter Mackenzie when Mackenzie developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She now also home schools her son, Pheonix. “Initially the adjusting period was quite intense as I had a young baby who wasn’t keen on sleeping at the time, however after a couple of months things really started to fall into place,” she says. “Our family loves the flexibility of home schooling and how it caters for each child individually. If parents are considering it to take the plunge my only advice is to let your children be your guide, work at their pace and with their interests. We love the home schooling lifestyle and are thrilled we took the plunge.”

FINDING OUT MORE INFORMATION A great way to find out about a school is to go see it in the flesh. ‘Open days’, conducted by some schools, offer an opportunity to view its resources and meet staff. If you can, talk to parents of students already attending the school that you are considering. Of course, not everyone is going to have the same opinion of a school, but speaking to a few parents is a good way to get a feel of the school culture. Go to the My School website, – This website enables you to search profiles of schools, as well as statistical information and resources and performance indicators.

MAKING A DECISION There are so many school options, so you ensure you do your research and ask lots of questions to ensure you make the best decision for your child. Some things to consider include: • Location. As in real estate, location is very important when choosing a school. If the best school choice for your child is the government school across the road from your house, then that will be very convenient! If your preferred school is further afield,

you will need to take into consideration travel time and public transport (if required). • The school’s uniform requirements. • If your child has a special interest, such as music, sport or languages. Ask the school what programs they offer. • The school’s policies on homework and bullying. • The cost. The expense of uniforms, fees or additional costs can vary greatly between schools so it is best to find out these details when enquiring about enrolment to ensure they fit within your budget. When you put in your application to a school, you may need the following: • Your child’s birth certificate • Proof of address • Court orders (if applicable) • Emergency contacts • Immunisation records If your child has any medical conditions, allergies or special requirements it is important to tell the school. Note: If you want to enrol your child into a private school, call the school for their enrolment requirements. Also ask how far in advance you will need to submit your child’s enrolment application – some parents will put their child’s name down at prestigious or in-demand schools when their child is a newborn!

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Early learning vital for kids Success in school and life beyond – why kindergarten matters


indergarten is the beginning of a child’s journey through school and one of the most important times in your child’s life… and yours. There is overwhelming evidence showing kindergarten is a crucial year for children to develop the skills they need for school and life. A new report1 has found that one-third of children in Australia do not attend the required hours of pre-school (kindergarten), meaning they start primary school on the back foot. According to the report, the benefits derived from 18 months of quality preschool is similar to that gained from six years of primary school. Australia’s largest provider of early learning and care, Goodstart Early Learning, says choosing to enrol your child in a dedicated kindergarten program will lay an important foundation for their future.

“At Goodstart we know that providing quality early learning and care helps to set children on a path to success in school and life,” said Todd Dawson, Goodstart WA State Manager.

“Providing a stimulating and nurturing environment is vitally important. We have developed a kindergarten program that combines a mix of fun, structured learning and physical activity to ensure children

develop the skills and confidence they need to adapt to a school environment. “Our program places a strong emphasis on building social and thinking skills, language and independence.” Help your child make a smooth transition to ‘big school’ and contact Goodstart on 1800 222 543 to ask any questions you have about this important decision for your family. 1

Quality Early Education for All report, Mitchell Institute,

Victoria University (April, 2016).

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Bad Mum seeks help By Emma Clarke

I asked for ways to make my son “cooperate”, by which I meant, “Do exactly as I say the instant I say it”. I got a glimpse of parenthood as a spiritual discipline.


his was a normal day. I wanted to cut out my tongue and post it to Zanzibar. I come from a family of yellers, and I swore not to pour that poison in my son’s ears. Fail and

fail again!. But I was never like him. He is scared of no one, not even Volcano Mama when she blows. You’d be amazed how hard it is to get an unafraid child to comply with anything he doesn’t wish to do. His teachers were amazed, alright. They would ask him to do something, and he would simply say no. Sometimes he would say yes, and when they left him alone, he would go back to making things out of paper or reading a book. He ended up getting detention nearly every day at lunchtime for six months. In a hippy Montessori school. In Year 1. Year 1! How many six-year-olds view being sent to the Principal’s office as an opportunity for a nice chat? Time out, reward charts, “consequences” and contracts made him angrier, sadder, and more withdrawn. Outright bribery worked okay, quite frankly. I felt like I had screwed him

He ended up getting detention nearly every day at lunchtime for six months. In a hippy Montessori school.

up already, and I was terrified of what kind of a teen he might become. His dad said, “I think other parents would have medicated him long ago”. I couldn’t let him continue to fail at school, learning only to think of himself as “the naughty kid”, so we began home-schooling. It has been an education — for me. My son is insatiably curious, works for hours at something that takes his interest, and constantly surprises me with the depth of his questions and

observations. But still we fight, since he hates to write. A friend whose shoulder I soaked in tears told me about

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


parenting coach Scott Noelle. These were

“In partnership, I’m aware of my needs,

the first words I read:

and meeting my needs is empowering,

“The greatest gift you can give your

but I’m also aware of my child’s needs

children is to enjoy parenting them.”

and desires, and supporting that would

Which told me how far I have to go. I

empower him as well.”

picked up the red phone and got Scott on

I’m embarrassed to say that my jaw

the line.

dropped at “understand what he wants”. I

“I love children who get sent to detention,” he said. “These are children who still know who they are, so they’re

had never once considered my son’s wishes in a pick-up-your-toys situation.


“A part of the reason why that isn’t as

not eager to be told who they should be.”

obvious as it now seems it should be, is that

“Our culture doesn’t teach us how to

our culture does not consider children to be

partner with children, it just teaches us

fully human.”

how to control them. If you have a strong-


willed child, or a parent who really doesn’t want to break their

“One of the things that you see in partnership cultures, like

child’s will, then you have the perfect conditions for entering into

the native South Americans described by Jean Liedloff in The

a partnership culture within your family.”

Continuum Concept, is that they don’t really consider children to

“The essence of partnership is that you and your child are

have any less rights or dignity because of their age. Obviously they

on the same side and you work with each other. Your goal is not

have less abilities, but they deserve the exact same respect for

to have power over the child, your goal is to be powerful with

their needs and desires as an adult would have, and also for their

the child. When you have that orientation, you are looking for


responses to conflicts which lead you to a win–win situation where you both feel like you get what you want.”

“Children are people. You wouldn’t approach a random stranger to do something for you unless you had initially tuned

“But Scott,” I said, “Shouldn’t my child do what I say? Isn’t obedience a skill that will help him avoid trouble in

in to that person to see if helping would work for them. In partnership with children, we do the same thing.”

school, keep a job, and stay out of jail?” “Obedience is not the same as following. Voluntary following allows the relationship to be a partnership even if there is a natural hierarchy with leaders and followers.” “The premise of the question that you posed implies that society is better with obedient people. My argument is that society is better with

Okay, my little renegade is a person. So how do I

I felt like I had screwed him up already, and I was terrified of what kind of a teen he might become.

get him to pick up his toys?

people who know how to work in partnership with each other. This type of parenting is not going to work to make children obedient. But it is going to help improve our culture, to make our culture more socially intelligent and capable of more social harmony.” “Well, that sounds very worthy,” I said, “but how can I create partnership when I’m tired after a long day, I ask my son to pick up his toys, and he just ignores me and keeps reading his comic book?” “You have to understand not only what you want but what he wants as well. It’s important to understand your own needs first, so that you don’t conflate them with his behaviour. You look at the situation with the toys on the floor, and you think, ‘Hmm. Part of what I want is a sense of order in my environment. I don’t want to trip over these toys.’ So you ask him to pick up his toys.” “The problem is, you skipped a step. If your training is just that adults should be in control and should get what they want, and kids just have to go along with that, it’s kind of one-sided.” 72

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

“You’re connecting with him empathetically. And that

“First, you really tune in to your own needs and desires. And then you turn your attention to him. Rather than only thinking of

connection is the essence of partnership. He will feel not only

him as someone who can fulfil part of your desire, you tune in to

that you respect him but that you feel him. People want to ‘feel

him and what’s going on in his current experience.”

felt’. That’s what happens when you give someone an empathic connection. They feel felt by you, and that creates a stronger bond

“So, you said he was reading a comic book. Since you didn’t

between the two of you.”

force him to read the comic book, you have to assume that he was

“From that place of connectedness and respect you can

deriving some value from that experience. Connect with that in the same way you would when you give a friend a gift and you look

introduce a new idea. That might be, ‘Hey, are you at a good

at their eyes to see them light up, and then you experience some of

stopping point? Because I would like your support in cleaning up

their joy. That’s what empathy is.”

this mess.’”

“You empathise with him, and that might inspire you to say

“So often the request is presented as a command and backed

something appreciative about what he’s doing. ‘I see you’re

by a threat like, “If you don’t do as I say, then I’m going to be

enjoying this comic book. Tell me about it.’ And he’ll feel your

angry with you” or “you won’t be able to play your video game”.

appreciation. He’ll feel your respect. He might even answer your

Once it gets to the point where you’re threatening him instead

question instead of ignoring you.”

of connecting with him, then there’s really no chance for a partnership.” I tell Scott how painful it is to realise that’s true. “Well it’s a good kind of pain, isn’t it? It’s the kind of pain you have when you realise that healing is about to begin.” That call with Scott was a baby step along the path of the peaceful parent. In the weeks since, I practised one skill. Embarrassingly, it was one I had taught my son when he was tiny: Ask nicely. With just that change, we no longer have a power struggle from breakfast ‘til bedtime. I don’t fully understand why. My son has been expressing his love for me daily. Every time he does, I send a little thought-bubble of thanks Scott’s way.

Children are people. You wouldn’t approach a random stranger to do something for you unless you had initially tuned in to that person to see if helping would work for them. In partnership with children, we do the same thing.

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring



encounters By Lisa O’Rourke

An ordinary woman shares her extraordinary spiritual journey, recounting Spiritually Transformative Experiences in her new book, Where the Light Lives. With the launch of a blog and home-based business this year she hopes to connect with, help and inspire spirituality in others.


t’s 1990 and a terrified 16-year-old Perth school girl, Linda

what she describes as overwhelming, spontaneous, spiritual

Cull, sits breathless with fear on the floor, overwhelmed by

phenomenon including, “many encounters with The Light,

her first spontaneous spiritual experience.e.

Angels and religious figures like the Blessed Mother, as well

Only moments before, Linda was happily sketching,

immersed in thought, when she began to hear a voice wistfully calling her name. Initially dismissing the voice as her

communications and past-life-recollections,” she says. At 21 Linda had what she describes as a Light Encounter

mother’s or neighbour’s, Linda slowly came to the frightening

that was, “the most exceptional spiritual experience of my life.

realisation that the voice was emanating from directly beside

I encountered the Divine Light and entered a heavenly state

her – an invisible spiritual energy was gently calling her name

where I experienced the reality of all things”.

beckoning her to notice. Frightened and alone as she was, Linda says this experience

In the following year Linda explains she had an epic OBE when she encountered a “spirit guide” who guided her through

was a “blessing”, signifying the beginning of the remarkable

a Life Review and then a Life Preview, “and gave her the choice

and life changing personal spiritual journey which ensued.

to either stay in the spiritual realm or return to physical life”.

From this point onwards, Linda’s life exploded with


as multiple out-of-body-experiences (OBEs), after-death-

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

Beautiful and profound, Linda says that these experiences

brought with them a new life purpose and spiritual direction. She believes they resulted in the spontaneous healing of her life and recovery from the depression which had plagued her teenage years as she struggled with a poor body image due to

she struggled with a poor body image due to scoliosis, which was becoming increasingly exaggerated as she grew taller to fill her adult 6ft 2in frame.

scoliosis (a curvature of the spine), which was becoming increasingly exaggerated as she grew taller to fill her adult 6ft 2in frame. Linda had also endured transgenerational grief throughout her childhood. Her father, as a boy during the Second World

communication line”. In her twenties, while cradled in the

War, had witnessed the executions of his father and brother.

comforts of the artistic process, surrendering thought, and

This trauma permeated the mood in Linda’s home every day.

feeling truly fulfilled, Linda’s first of many Intuitive Artistic

With every OBE (of which Linda recalls over 30) her

experiences were evoked.

perception of reality expanded, and her world view would never be the same again.

Linda defines Intuitive Art as an automated artistic process and an example of a phenomenon known as Spontaneous

Defying popular belief that such experiences are reserved

Inspired Creativity. As the artist, Linda relinquishes her

only to those near death (Near Death Experiences/ NDEs),

own will, granting authority to her “highest spiritual aspect”

Linda’s experiences, spanning the last 20 years, have sparked

that directs her without conscious plan or vision. Without

the interest of researchers across the globe.

effort, subconscious interpretations of spiritual themes are

Raised Catholic, Linda felt her new spiritual realities

transferred onto her canvas.

could no longer be explained by The Church and hence painting became her refuge. It was also to become a “spiritual

“Painting in this manner is very different to the deliberate process of the painting I did as a teenager,” she says.

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melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Linda refers to an inner energy guiding her hand, sometimes illuminating a path for her paintbrush to follow across the canvas, like numbers on a dot-todot, arousing the same thrill of a child, who is slowly revealed to the hidden image after much anticipation and invested commitment to the task. Now a mother to two boys aged ten and six, when possible, Linda creates opportunities for spiritual lessons, learning and growth for them, as she would do with any other life skill. While Linda’s boys have not yet had spiritual experiences of their own, Linda provides other caregivers with strategies that could help their children cope with the confusion, loneliness and fear spiritual awakenings can invoke. “A Spiritual Experience, like an OBE or spirit encounter, can be confusing and scary for kids, so it’s best to listen attentively, ask questions, assure their safety and validate their experiences as real and natural, even commonplace.” “I’d encourage them to draw or write about their experience to manage and share their feelings.” Linda refers to an innate spiritualty which is very strong in children and can be developed regardless of their propensity to display such abilities, and she advocates the practice of mindfulness as a way of nurturing this. “Encourage children to immerse themselves in nature, notice

time” between parenting commitments. Linda enjoys the writing process, likening it to painting with “its layers and rhythm”. When Linda considered her options about returning to the workforce she changed her thinking about the business of spirituality, realising that in order to do what she loved every day

how they are feeling and what their physical senses, such as

she needed to earn a living from it. Once the bohemian, gifting

hearing and vision, are experiencing.”

her paintings to friends, Linda now writes for both business and

“Paying attention to small things and subtle signs can be learnt, and does become easier with practice. It’s one of the ways the spiritual world communicates with us.” Children’s natural curiosity can lead to many spontaneous discussions about life, love and death. Linda explains, “We can provide many opportunities to introduce notions of spirit, soul, connectedness and compassion to them.” Children observe, learn and model their behaviours on those of their parents or caregivers and therefore Linda believes that to provide the best spiritual foundations in our children, parents

pleasure. An Anglican priest, Father Barry May of Embleton (deceased), interested in near-death-experiences and out-of-bodyexperiences, encouraged Linda to write a book about her own spiritual experiences saying, “It would give hope to many”. So with her family’s support, Linda worked day and night for the last five years writing and self-publishing her first book, Where the Light Lives, released in February this year, about her spiritually-transformative experiences. Previously working in Politics, Linda says that spirituality feels

must nurture and grow their own, by living “authentically” –

like her “Life Calling”. While the career change has presented

attending to their innate gifts for “their own sake and in the

some challenges including learning new technologies and

service of others”.

adjusting to working alone, Linda feels the decision has been

Throughout motherhood, writing has provided Linda with an


the hectic pace of motherhood. She feels more able to “snatch

unquestionably the most fulfilling.

alternative spiritual outlet to her Intuitive Art, explaining that it

Linda aims to reach out to those needing help to assimilate

is more easily assimilated with everyday family life and around

spiritual experiences into their lives as well as to connect with

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

people interested in developing their personal spiritualty. In doing so, Linda is living with authenticity and thus realising her own spiritual growth.

Contact Linda with your story and view her website at

towers above all of life’s challenges with a graceful poise and contentedness she once thought beyond her grasp. Linda’s path is destined

She dedicates about 50 hours per week to promoting her

for fulfilment. Grateful for

blog, Spirit my way, to other

her opportunities, she aims to

spiritually-minded people as well as developing inspiring

continue to grow her business by

new products to sell online.

continuing to be true to herself and advocating:

Last year Linda focussed heavily on establishing her

“We have all chosen to be here and we are spiritually perfect,

website and preparing her book for market which involved editing the manuscript as well as managing the design,

and gifted, whether we recognise it or not. There is nothing we

publication and distribution of her book. This year, her focus has

need to be or do to be loved by Spirit. We are infinite beings of

shifted to marketing her book as well as writing weekly blog posts

light here for the purpose of growing from our experiences. As

and growing an audience.

difficult as this life can sometimes be, there is a long queue of

She is learning and persevering to fulfil her dreams. Linda walks her own talk, practicing “mindfulness” every day. While some

souls awaiting their chance for this physical experience. It’s a privilege to be here, and to love in form!” Regardless of one’s own spiritual beliefs, the breathtaking

days are challenging, she is enjoying the flexibility of working from home and found a harmonious balance between work and play. Today, Linda stands tall in both stature and presence - elegant,

imagery of Linda’s spiritual accounts convey the importance to love ourselves and all others in this lifetime. Life truly is a

happy, strong and fulfilled, living by her own words. By “living

precious gift to be nurtured, respected, cherished and above all

authentically” and doing what makes her happy every day, she

else be grateful for.

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melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring




food on a lean budget Find out how you can keep your family eating healthy food without breaking the budget.



l Spend most on fruits, vegetables, legumes, breads, plain cereals. FOODcents recommends that 60% of the food budget be spent on these foods.

Spend moderately on lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts. FOODcents recommends that 30% of the food budget be spent on these foods. l


Spend least on foods with little nutrition – these are usually high in sugar, salt and/or fat including crisps, chocolate, biscuits, cordial, soft drink and alcohol. FOODcents recommends that only 10% of the food budget be spent on these foods.

Check unit pricing of food* Snacks: l Bananas - $3/kg l Sultanas - $12/kg l Muesli bars - $18.90/kg l Chocolate bar - $30/kg Potatoes: l Fresh potatoes - $2.99/kg l Frozen fries - $4.19/kg l Potato crisps - $17.80/kg *All pricing correct at time of publication


Breakfast Cereal: l Rolled oats - $4/kg l Weetbix - $4/kg l Rice Bubbles - $9.90/kg l Nutrigrain - $12.60/kg l Crunchy Nut Clusters - $13.30/kg Drinks: Coca Cola - $1.40/litre l Bottled still water l

- $1.65/litre l Milk - $2.10/litre

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne


here is research to confirm that healthy eating does cost more – but not a lot more. Research from Harvard School of Public Health shows that it costs around $1.50 more

per day to eat a healthy diet – and while this is an American figure, it is indicative. As a mum and dietitian, I am forever frustrated by the big fast food chains who offer budget-friendly food which I am sure is contributing to two out of three adults now being overweight or obese. When meal deals for two people are $11.95 (two burgers, two fries and two soft drinks), I can see how this is appealing to a family who are time poor and have hungry kids in the back seat. But however attractive these deals appear, they come at a cost. Research shows that the cost of food is rising and unfortunately it seems that the cost of healthy food is rising

• Four out of five weeknight evening meals a week are home cooked. • $237 is spent on food and beverages on average per household each week. • 261kg of food waste is produced per person each year. • About $63 per week was spent on food preparation outside the home (restaurants and takeaways).

1 Spend wisely What do you spend your food budget on? FOODcents is a Health Department education program that helps families have a healthy diet on a budget. Collect


Family eating facts

your food receipts for a few weeks, including small food purchases and takeaways, and tally up the total. Refer to Table 1 to help you break the receipts down to ‘spend most’, ‘spend

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s Food and Nutrition 2012.

moderately’ and ‘spend least’. More information on FOODcents can be found


2 Buy fruit and vegetables in season

Research shows that the cost of food is rising and unfortunately it seems that the cost of healthy food is rising quicker than the cost of unhealthy foods.

In season fruit and vegetables will be cheapest and freshest. Buy locally wherever possible – farmers markets are well worth checking out and you will be supporting the growers.

3 Check pricing Supermarkets now display unit pricing – usually labelled as price per kilogram or price per 100g. This is very useful information. Use the unit pricing to compare between

products. Typically the more processed a food is, the more you pay. quicker than the cost of unhealthy foods. This alarms me. And

Common breakfast cereals demonstrate this – plain rolled oats can

the short answer is economics.

be bought for around $4/kg compared to more processed (and less

Some of our neighbouring countries, such as China and India

healthy) cereals such as rice bubbles at $9.90/kg or crunchy nut

are very interested in our meat and seafood – pushing up our local

clusters at $13.30/kg – double and triple the price of plain oats. More

prices. Our healthiest foods (fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood,

examples of price comparisons are provided in Table 2.

grains, dairy) all have short shelf lives, unlike highly processed

4 Meal planning

foods such as soft drink, biscuits and chocolate, for example,

Meal planning comes with a number of benefits – including

which can sit on shelves for many months. This too pushes up prices. Wages in Australia have increased and these costs have

saving money (probably because there are less trips to the

been passed on to the consumer.

supermarket), less waste, saving time and less stress wondering what you are having for dinner. Benefits that tick all the boxes as

If you are reading this article and regularly do a weekly family

a parent!

food shop, then I am sure you have wondered about ways to spend less on food. Here are some tips to help you.

5 Meat free meals In 2009 Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney launched Meat Free Monday to draw attention to the benefits of eating less meat. One of the big benefits is saving money, since meat is typically an expensive food item.

PUMPKIN SOUP Ingredients: l

2 T olive oil


1 onion, diced


½ teaspoon ground coriander


½ teaspoon ground cumin


Pepper to taste

Other benefits of eating less meat include helping our 700g pumpkin, peeled and dice


1 carrot, washed and diced


½ sweet potato, peeled & dice


500g chicken stock

environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions




and reducing our risk of bowel cancer. Some easy and tasty meat-free meals include: l

Omelette – add in some tomatoes, mushrooms,

zucchini and baby spinach to increase the vegetable content

Method: 1. Heat oil in a large sauc epan over low heat. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add spices and cook , stirring for 30 seconds. Add pumpkin, carr ot, sweet potato and stock and bring to the boil. 2. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then blend to smooth puree.


Macaroni and cheese




Vegetable curry


Toasted cheese, tomato and avocado sandwich with

side salad melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring


Becoming a foster carer The reality, the challenges and the joys Foster carers, Madeline and John, find being foster parents so fulfilling and feel the things they worried about before becoming a carer are now insignificant.


family was always on the agenda for Madeline* and her husband, John*. They married young,

bought a house and settled in on starting to introduce children into their lives. But after 10 failed IVF attempts they began to

thought that being a foster carer would

Their resilience and spirit are so inspiring; they have given us a family and we have given them a family.

investigate other options.

home. “We initially, and naively, thought that our experience as carers would be a revolving door of children coming into our care,” said Madeline. “But we soon learnt you could make a choice between

They started with the possibility of

becoming a respite carer, a short-term carer

overseas adoption. But at the time every

or a long-term carer – we chose long term.”

magazine or newspaper they opened, and every news story they heard, seemed to be discussing the need for foster carers. “We talked it over,” says Madeline “and decided that maybe

Madeline and John weren’t completely naive. They knew that they were about to undertake a huge change in their lives. “Let’s face it,” says Madeline “we were blessed with the placement of

this was going to be a rewarding path. We were still young enough

siblings, a four-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, but we were

to care for and help the many children that may come into our

strangers. It took time to get to know one another, them to know


us and us to know them.”

They started making their enquiries, initially turning to the


mean introducing many children into their

There’s also the reality of coping with the children’s past

NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS),

experiences – both the trauma and loss. “They were confused,”

who started them on the approval and training process. They both

says Madeline. “There was a gamut of attachment and

Offspring | winter 2016 | melbourne

development needs. They continue to challenge us in new ways but, with each day, we are learning and progressing.” Long-term carers were given the opportunity to transfer their cases to a non-government organisation. Madeline and John decided on The Benevolent Society, Australia’s first charity, which has a long history helping families and children. “They have been very supportive to us,” says Madeline. “They supported this placement wholeheartedly, and I’m grateful for the insight, honesty and care our caseworkers have provided us.” Be it training, moral support or therapy for the children, The Benevolent Society ensures that Madeline and her family aren’t left to fend for themselves. Right down to providing “a shoulder to cry on – when required,” says Madeline. One of the aspects prospective foster carers may find themselves unprepared for is the ongoing relationship children have with their

We initially, and naively, thought that our experience as carers would be a revolving door of children coming into our care.

families. The children in Madeline and John’s care have bi-monthly, supervised contact with their mum and dad, which is an important aspect of their care. But it’s not without its challenges, says Madeline. “Sometimes that challenge is in the form of anxiety and following behavioural challenges in the children. Sometimes it’s the stress experienced by me!” When asked about how she feels about the two-hour

Even some friendships have ended after Madeline and John’s

family meetings, Madeline gives the sense that it’s still a work

decision to become foster carers, but Madeline says that the

in progress. But they make the children happy, and there’s no

change has fortified others and that they’ve made plenty of

question that Madeline thinks that that is what makes these visits

new friends along the way. But for Madeline and John, the most


rewarding aspect of being a carer has been the relationship

“It has broadened my view on parenting and the plight of those in care and the carers who look after them, including the case workers, the biological parents and the family,” says Madeline. “Our whole life is different… the things I worried about before being a carer are so insignificant.” Taking on the responsibility of becoming a carer can make you more tolerant and appreciative of the ones you love. Madeline

they’ve forged with the young children who now make up their family. “They are the most delightful and amazing people. They have truly filled my heart,” says Madeline. “Their resilience and spirit are so inspiring; they have given us a family and we have given them a family.” When asked what piece of advice she’d give someone

says that one of her greatest joys is watching her parent’s

thinking about becoming a foster carer, Madeline says: “Do

relationship with the children grow, seeing them delight in the

all the training you can, open your eyes and ears. Focus on the

experience and joys of having these two children in their lives. But

children. This (being a foster carer) will change your life; it is full

as much as it can strengthen relationships it can also test them.

of challenges and difficulties—you will deal with behaviours you

“It has deepened the relationship I have with my husband

haven’t experienced before, and emotions and histories that are

but, to be entirely truthful, there were also times that I thought it

unbelievable—but the difference a good carer can make is also so

might tear us apart.”

unbelievably rewarding.”

melbourne | winter 2016 | Offspring



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Offspring Melbourne Winter 2016 issue  

Australia's favourite family family lifestyle magazine

Offspring Melbourne Winter 2016 issue  

Australia's favourite family family lifestyle magazine