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Autumn 2014

Australia’s favourite family lifestyle magazine

Mary Coustas becomes a mum at 49


Beyond Cyberbullying


What are other mums doing? FREE

Keeping your kids safe

Real life









WHAT’S HOT Funky finds this Autumn


THE MAKING OF MARY No stranger to challenges of the road to parenthood, Mary Coustas shares why giving birth to a baby girl at age 49 has been such a journey.



BUFFET-UP MAMA School lunches have come a long way since the days of vegemite sandwiches and water.

22 28

AWESOME AUTUMN Amazing fashion for kids this season!


THE VAXXING DEBATE Beth Johnston explores the social minefield of immunisation.


BRIGHT SPARKS Mum to two boys who are both members of MENSA, chats to Zoe Deleuil about the unique challenges and rewards of raising her boys.



HOLIDAYING WITH THE GRISWOLDS Gary shares why his holidays now resemble National Lampoon’s Vacation. BEYOND CYBERBULLYING Teaching your child cyber safety and online smarts in 2014 is as important as learning to swim and cross the road, reveals renowned child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.


Our selection of websites offering great products for your family.


MATERNITY CARE Here are some things to consider when deciding on the right maternity care for you and your baby..


10 ADOPTIONS IN HOLLYWOOD Read what 10 high-profile adoptive parents such as Hugh Jackman, Mariska Hargitay and Sandra Bullock have to say about adoption.


BUILDING BABIES BRAINS Nurturing and predictable relationships help babies get wired for learning and communicating.


sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring


60 67 54


STRESS AND CHILDHOOD Playgroup WA CEO, David Zarb, discusses why it’s paramount we aim for prevention of problems with young children, rather than waiting to address problems later, when it’s often too late.


MY LITTLE PERFORMER If your child loves music, dancing or performing, chances are they will delight in taking part in a singing, dancing or drama class.


SPORTS FUN FOR KIDS Here’s a guide to help you choose the sport that best suits your child.




CHILDREN’S PARTIES With birthday parties so frequent nowadays, it’s worth looking into healthy food options, without eliminating ‘party’ food.


THE CITY OF CHURCHES Autumn is a wonderful time to go to Adelaide!


COOL CLUB MED Out of all the 80 resorts that Club Med has around the world, a whopping 57 of them are family friendly, making it a great choice for a family holiday.




Mary Coustas

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

Managing Editor Kate Durack Contributing writers Ari Chavez, Gary Ausbruch, Lisa Fernandez, Ngala Parenting Education Team, Beth Johnson, Kate Bullen, Brooke Evans-Butler, Colleen Willis,, Nicole Cox, David Zarb, Zoe Deleuil, Miranda Miller, Vicki Hobbs. Graphic Designers Steven Lillywhite, Sally Travis Printed by Offset Alpine Printing

Distribution 50,000 copies distributed by paid subscriptions and for free at selected locations throughout Sydney. 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 | autumn 2014 | sydney



do you feel today?



elcome to our first edition for

health issues in this edition, with

2014. I hope the year’s gone

Beth Johnston exploring the minefield

off to a flying start for you. It’s been

of immunisation in “The Vaxxing

rather crazy around here at Offspring,

Debate” (p. 28), while Nicole Cox has a

with Perth & Sydney editions being

great interview with renowned child

produced simultaneously for a first

psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg on

time, as well as the launch of an

the perils of cyberspace, in “Beyond

exciting new website (due to Go Live

Cyberbullying” (p 38).

any day now, I’m told!), but hopefully you’ll agree it’s been worth it. We’re now into our fifth year of

Do you secretly think your child has streak of genius? We interview one woman who is Mum to two children

publishing Offspring in Perth (how

who have IQs in the 99th percentile

time flies when you’re having fun!)

rank, both of whom are some of the

and this will be our second production

top nation’s youngest members of

kids involved in extra-curricular

of Sydney Offspring. Thanks for

MENSA (see “Bright Sparks”, p. 32).

activities we’ve got two special

We have again excellent parenting


And for those who love to get their

features for you – Performing Arts

information from Ngala on the

(“My Little Performer”, pg 60) and a

the gracious Mary Coustas’s story of

importance nurturing and predictable

Sports Guide (“Sports fun for kids,” pg

how she came to be a mum at 49. Her

relationships has in helping babies’

67). Plus lots more!

gruelling journey and candidness are

brains develop (“Building babies’

remarkable. I’m sure many others will

brains,” p. 54), while Playgroup WA

with us on Facebook! www.facebook.

be inspired by the wonderful, happy

CEO, David Zarb, discusses why stress


ending to Mary’s 10-year-long journey

can be so damaging to children’s

to become a mother.

wellbeing and development, in “Stress


and Childhood” (p. 56).


I’m delighted to be able to share

We shed light on some social

Happy reading and please connect


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Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

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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.

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.

LISA FERNANDEZ RADIO ANNOUNCER is a radio broadcaster, TV host, public speaker, event facilitator, writer and single mother to four year old Isabella. Lisa recently swapped a high profile radio career where she regularity lunched with celebrities to being a less-stressed mum making kindy lunches for Bella.

CLAIRE ARMSTRONG JOURNALIST of eight years across a range of publications and mother of two beautiful girls. She has a passion for all things parenting and a love of sharing stories about the parenthood journey.

NICOLE COX JOURNALIST has worked in print and online media for 15 years in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Now she has the most adventurous job of her life - mum to energetic toddler, Matteo. Nicole says the flexibility of freelance journalism allows her to combine her two loves, motherhood and writing.

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!

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.

ZOE DELEUIL JOURNALIST is mother to Tilo, two, and has another one due in October. She says that writing for Offspring is ideal for a novice parent as it involves learning more about many aspects of parenting, from choosing the right school to essential buys for newborns.”


BETH JOHNSTON JOURNALIST worked in print media before welcoming baby boy Sam into the world. She is now doing freelance writing and absolutely loving being a mum.“Sam changes so much every day, so it’s great to be able to keep that passion for writing but not miss a thing.”

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

JANE MILLINGTON INTERIOR DESIGNER has over 14 years experience in all facets of the design industry including Interior Design, Styling, Sales & Marketing. As owner of Happy Go Lucky www.happygoluckykids. and mother of two children, Samson and Liv, Jane specialises in children’s bedrooms and nurseries.

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 awardwinning recipient of Flight Centre both in Australia and overseas. Colleen will guide you through family travel the way she knows best!

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Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring




making of


No stranger to challenges along the road to parenthood, Mary Coustas shares why giving birth to a baby girl at age 49 has been such a journey.


ary Coustas is in a perfect storm of contentment. The reason for her joy? A tiny, sweet-smelling baby girl: Jamie Betsis. Jamie, born in November 2013 to Mary and

her husband, George Betsis, is the precious outcome of a gruelling ten year odyssey with IVF, a journey full of losses so relentless and profound that, at one point, Mary questioned her own sanity. The journey began early, and jarringly, for Mary and George, an advertising executive, whom Mary met in 2003 and married in 2005. Just a few weeks after their wedding, Mary discovered she had blocked fallopian tubes, and that IVF was her only option for having a baby. It soon became clear that she would have to devote all her time and energy to the process. It was serious business, a long way from playing the wildly popular character Effie on television show, Acropolis Now, a concoction so beloved by audiences that a regular line of her dialogue – How embarrassment! – is now enshrined in the Australian vernacular. After the success of Acropolis Now, Mary went on to launch a one-woman stage show, Waiting for Effie, and work on various dramatic television shows, including Rake, The Secret Life of Us and Grass Roots. She also

worked as a voiceover artist on The Magic Pudding and Always Greener, released a novelty single with Gary McDonald’s comic


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney


character, Norman Gunston, and penned her first book, Effie’s Guide to Being Up Yourself. It was a busy, creative, successful life and, in 2005, it all crashed to a halt. In her strikingly honest memoir, All I Know: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Life, Mary writes, “I put my work, which has always been my spiritual saviour, on indefinite pause while I took the scientific road to motherhood. The IVF world required of me a commitment to a schedule that is not predictable. Indeed, to be available for appointments, retrievals and implantings, they monitor you according to how your body has responded to the drugs on each attempt, so knowing what’s happening next is always uncertain. Not being able to commit to work that is long-term or interstate, I was left with no choice but to temporarily let go of my career.” In fact it wasn’t temporary, more a permanent state of rolling the dice with a mixture of anticipation and dread. For years Mary underwent numerous IVF attempts, and endured false hopes and many miscarriages. At times she faltered, mental and emotional exhaustion threatening to overtake her. “I thought I would go insane, I really did,” she says, quietly. “At one point, I thought I was miscarrying, and I was with my best friend and I remember saying, ‘I think I’ll go insane... this might be the straw for me.’ And it wasn’t.” Mary and George persisted against the odds and, after copious tests and needles and losses of early promise, they finally got the

At one point, I thought I was miscarrying, and I was with my best friend and I remember saying, ‘I think I’ll go insane...this might be the straw for me.

news they were waiting for in 2010. A positive result. “At last there was a stillness and a promise of a future that had been six years in waiting,” Mary writes in her book. “A new era had begun as I found myself floating through the hours and the days, which prior to that felt endless.” Mary’s joy was compounded when, at her seven week scan, she was told

she was pregnant with not one but two babies, fraternal twins. It was an instant family right there for the taking, a cause for celebration indeed. The euphoric feelings were short-lived, however. Just two weeks later, at her nine week scan, her pregnancy suddenly became ominously, medically, complex. Mary discovered she was carrying triplets. She had a few moments of elation, describing in her book ‘a Rocky Balboa moment’ where there ‘was nothing my body couldn’t do’. Then, as her doctor explained the risks, both to her babies (cerebral palsy, loss of hearing and sight) and Mary, herself (pre-eclampsia leading to cardiovascular issues and possible liver and renal failure), reality set in.

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Stunned, and clawing around for answers, Mary was advised by five different specialists to do the unthinkable. Reduce the pregnancy by two: the twins. Mary and George, who had for years tried for just one child, were thrust into a nightmarish world where they not only had three potential children, but were being told they must reduce two of them so one baby, and the mother, could survive. After much thought, and a gruelling viewing of all three babies on a 3D ultrasound, Mary and George decided to go ahead with the twin reduction, a heartbreaking procedure which left Mary bereft. “The cruelty of those circumstances was beyond anything I had experienced before,” she writes. “A sense of foreboding brought about an utter collapse in my composure. The doctor held my hand and said gently, ‘Mary, I’m sorry you have to go through this. But I need you to stop crying. You must stay completely still.’ “I took a deep breath and with every bit of my willpower I did not move. George held my hand and squeezed it. I couldn’t look at him. The thought of seeing George’s face with the hurt that I know he was trying so hard to hide would have been my complete undoing.” The procedure involved injecting potassium chloride into the heart of one of the twins, which should have also terminated the second twin because of the shared placenta. Agonisingly, it didn’t completely work and, when Mary and George returned for a check-up two days later, the doctor told them they would have to repeat it for the second twin. Mary endured the second injection

She was placed on my chest and I know I could not have loved her more than I did in that moment. It was the crush of a lifetime. My wounded, aching heart was suddenly full.

limited time with her, and I wasn’t going to let my fear take away the day or two I had with her whether alive or not.” In those fragile post-birth hours and days, Mary displayed a lioness love for baby Stevie, “tiny and perfect and so incredibly pretty. The minute I

while a, “silent wailing screamed vehemently in my head,” and, finally, as the medicos had

saw her staggering beauty I knew I was looking at an angel. She

advised, there was one baby remaining. Just the one.

was placed on my chest and I know I could not have loved her


more than I did in that moment. It was the crush of a lifetime.

Mary’s pregnancy, already under a cloud of fear, did not

My wounded, aching heart was suddenly full.”

proceed as planned. Her waters broke at twenty weeks, and she was placed on bedrest in hospital, trying to banish the anxious thoughts of an early labour from her head. At twenty two weeks,

Mary spent time holding Stevie’s tiny body, marvelling in her unique beauty, cuddling her exquisite feet, refusing to leave. “I think there’s a lot to be said for the maternal instinct,

her contractions began and escalated. Mary was wheeled into

for how strong women have to be,” Mary says. “We’re such

the birthing suite, examined and told her remaining baby, her

emotional beings, in comparison to what men are prepared

beautiful girl, was on her way, but she would die in the birth

to show, although I’m sure they feel it. I think that puts you

canal and be stillborn. There was nothing that could be done.

in good stead to be able to surprise yourself under those

Remarkably, Mary resolved to be mentally and emotionally present as she gave birth to her dead daughter, determined to honour the time they had together.


when it all happened. I knew I had

sorts of conditions, and it definitely surprised me. I was very galvanised by it. “None of us know who we are until something happens. We

“It’s very confronting when death and life turn up at the

can sit there and talk in theory about who we think we are and

same time, and I underestimated who I would be,” she says. “I

how we think we’d cope but, when something happens, that’s

was so present. I refused to go into denial or shock or anything

when you find out. The rest is all cafe speak, really.”

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As the events unfolded that day, the extent of the health issues Stevie would have undoubtedly struggled with, had she survived, were always at the back of Mary’s mind. The

than me, that it wasn’t just some vanity project, that I’ve been able to open up a forum,” she says, softly. “People write to me via the book’s Facebook page every

knowledge that her tiny baby was ultimately spared a life of

single day. People who have had experiences that are so much

excruciating struggle, shone as a small solace in her raging grief.

more tragic than mine, who feel like finally their family can

“There was relief that she died because I didn’t have to pray anymore. It had happened, and then I just had to deal with that...and I was scared of how compromised she would have

understand what they went through because of reading some of the stuff I wrote. “I love it because I also know how much strength I’ve

been because she didn’t have what she needed so, as much as

had from reading things that have liberated me. I know how

I prayed to keep her alive, I don’t know what I was thinking...

important that is. I think in life you’ve got to take morsels of

because I knew she was compromised. I knew I would have

inspiration and strength from every source you stumble across,

been dependant on multiple miracles for her to have survived

and I am glad I am one of those sources for people.”

that unscathed. So, God, or she, made the decision because it

Mary’s story is both deeply personal and universal; a vividly lived experience of life and love, loss and grief, and

was one that I didn’t want to have to make.” Mary’s has been a particularly public grief. She has, bravely,

the wisdom that is wrung from being acutely conscious

spoken often about her years of IVF, her miscarriages, her

throughout. The extraordinary public response perhaps

triplets and, finally, the stillbirth of Stevie. She has written

reflects the difficulting speaking of such things, the relief when someone can do it for us.

of all of it in her memoir, an eloquent

“I think people don’t know what to

and beautifully restrained book. It is a lone voice, a singular telling of multiple tragedies, a public showing of a very private wound. The response has been phenomenal. “The death of a child is everyone’s worst fear,” she says, starkly. “How do you articulate that, and how do you bring attention to that...The book was what I needed it to be. I chose to write it because it was therapeutic to me, but also because I

Mary spent time holding Stevie’s tiny body, marvelling in her unique beauty, cuddling her exquisite feet, refusing to leave.

knew that I had the privilege of a platform that others don’t have, and that I was willing to and I was strong enough to. “And I was speaking not only on behalf of myself and my family, but on the behalf of many others who don’t have the opportunity and don’t have the words, and don’t have the strength to because they can barely get their head around it, because that’s what it does, it’s completely engulfing. Like any grief, it comes back in waves when you least expect it, and there are days where it so gets the better of you. I found with writing, it was a step closer to really understanding it all and a step towards honouring it all, too.” Mary takes great comfort from the thousands of messages she has received on her book’s Facebook page, the kind comments from strangers on the internet, the startling wave of interest in her story when it was broadcast on 60 Minutes. There are many thousands of people – benign strangers, mostly – tearing up at her story, seeing themselves in her suffering, wishing her and George well, hoping against hope that she gets a happy ending. “I’m just thrilled that it meant something to someone other


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

say about death, people don’t know how to conduct themselves. We find out when it happens but sometimes it’s good to get some clues, you know. Sometimes you don’t know what to say to people. You just have to say, ‘I’m

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sorry’ or you’ve just got to hug them. One of my besties, she just sends me a X in a text, on the days I was waiting for a result, or on the birthday of Stevie. Just a little kiss. All it means is ‘I’m thinking of you’ and ‘I love you’. People don’t want to download an hour’s worth of feeling. It’s exhausting to relive it, but it’s nice not to be avoided. And it’s nice not to put your fucking foot in it. And it’s nice to feel just a little equipped to handle the tough stuff because everyone’s turn’s going to happen, whether you like it or not.” Mary pauses for a moment. “Even though my book is about death, essentially it’s about life because death really informs you on how to live if you can take the lessons that it gives you,” she says quietly. There is, finally, a happy ending to the story. After Stevie, Mary and George underwent a further six rounds of IVF and Mary fell pregnant with Jamie. She maintained a healthy pregnancy and Jamie was born by caesarean section in November, 2013. It had taken ten years and Mary was forty nine years old. The birth message simply said: Baby & Mother are in exceptional health, father still doing cartwheels. Three months in, and it appears the cartwheels are ongoing. The Mary on the end of the phone is almost reverberating with joy. Of the first few, heady months of motherhood, she is emphatic.

The birth message simply said: Baby & Mother are in exceptional health, father still doing cartwheels. “Oh I love it, I love it,” she says. “You know, I never really imagined this in case it didn’t happen. I knew in my heart that I wanted to have a child, but I didn’t dare to imagine it in the detail that I’m experiencing it for the fear that it might not ever happen. As much as I’ve worked towards it for ten years, and it’s been my primary motivation, I am completely surprised by so much of it, which I didn’t anticipate. And it’s all good. “It’s like going into a love vacuum! You lose yourself in it. You look at them and you’re so full of infatuation and love and contentment. And then you think, ‘oh, what happened to that half an hour or that hour?’. “Holding them close, their smell, just watching them sleeping in your arms, all those yummy feelings. It’s great to have had such a rich life, but to have been nowhere near this territory before. Just when you think you know it all, you realise that there’s so much you haven’t experienced and that you didn’t know. And it’s fantastic. It opens up this other dimension.” There was, and continues to be, a groundswell of goodwill, congratulations and happiness for Mary and George from all over Australia. There is genuine and ongoing delight at the latest turn of events. Fittingly, Mary has updated her memoir to include the end of the story - a final chapter about the conception and birth of her second daughter, Jamie. Meanwhile, the spirit of Stevie lives on, as Mary wrote in an exquisite letter to her firstborn, as “the softness that travels in and with me.”


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FUNNY MUMMY with Ari Chávez

BUFFET UP MAMA... School lunches have come a long way since the days of vegemite sandwiches and water.


slide-out compartments, so you can send a veritable buffet of food options for lunch and your child can pick and choose. There are fabulous cool bags, and ice block-thingies to keep your

here’s a lot of talk, this time of year, post-hols-

sushi fresh, and neat little pockets to

and-with-the-schoolyard-looming, of the humble

store a drink bottle in. It’s all terribly

school lunchbox and what should go in it.

organised, and the expectations are

My son is going to Kindy this year, so I’m new to all this.

I must admit, I’m a bit gobsmacked by the AMOUNT of food that’s expected to be packed for a six hour stint in the

clear. Buffet up, Mama, you have work to do. I am a child of the 70s; a

classroom and playground. There seems to be all manner

latchkey kid, with parents

of muffins, and snacks, and fruit platters, and sushi, and

who favoured the Free Range

rice paper rolls, and bread rolls, and olives with cubed

approach before it was even

fetta and sundried tomato and some sort of marinated

called that. Basically, I’m so

mushroom. Plus a drink, half a sack of popcorn and a tub

old I am almost desiccated.

of yoghurt. And some grapes, preferably seedless.

Even so, the buffet-lunchbox

There are lots of fancy lunchboxes, with nifty little

approach seems excessive to me. I hate to play the ‘in-my-day’ card but,


heck, I’ll do it anyway. In my day, I distinctly remember being sent to school with: 1. A vegemite and cheese sandwich on wholemeal bread. 2. An apple. 3. A mandarin or carrot. 4. Possibly a water bottle, if anyone remembered and usually they didn’t. If I needed a drink, I could find a water fountain somewhere or, failing this, a puddle. Like I said, Free Range. Use your initiative. Find your own way, even if it does involve slurping from a puddle to avoid dying of thirst. All of that. My lunch was packed in a recycled paper bread bag, which more often than not retained a veritable avalanche of bread crumbs that stuck to everything inside. I did envy the other kids who had proper brown paper lunch sacks, clean and crumb-less, and always hoped that Mum might buy the same. Great expectations, and all that. She never did, by the way, being somewhat


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embarrassingly before her time in regards to waste and recycling. My school also put on Dry Roll Days semiregularly. On Dry Roll Day, the whole school abstained

‘If I needed a drink, I could fin d a water fountain somewhere or, failing this, a puddle.’

from bringing lunches and,


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

instead, purchased plain dry rolls - white and fluffy as clouds - for about fifty cents. The reason for this was twofold. Firstly, it was an attempt, well intentioned but perhaps misguided, to make us

‘You can’t spend your whole life do dging behind the lavend er bush near the sc hool gate, because yo u sent a donut to school for your child’s morning tea’

comfortable middle class

breakfast before school and afternoon tea and dinner

malnutrition and the like. Stern notes might even be sent home, reiterating the value of healthy food choices. It sounds dramatic, but I have heard of such things. Teachers

illegal biscuits, only to have a tetchy word with

feel to have limited food options successful this was, given we had

would be all sorts of worry about

policing lunchboxes and pouncing on

kids experience how it might and be a bit hungry. I’m not sure how

All well and good, but I’m not sure if Dry Roll Day would cut it today. There

Mum at the school gate about sending broccoli florets instead. That sort of thing. It’s all rather daunting if you think too much about it. You can’t spend your whole life dodging behind the lavender bush near the school gate, because you sent a donut to school for

afterwards, and could

your child’s morning tea. Or can you? There are fourteen years

buy as many dry rolls as

of school, counting Kindy and Pre-Primary. That’s a heck of a

we pleased, and we did.

lot of dodging. Bad for the knees, I’d wager. It’d be better for

Secondly, all those fifty

everyone to Mum up to things, and learn to make rice paper

cent pieces we handed over for our dry rolls went to a charity, which provided food to people who needed it.

rolls and the like. Even if your child turns up their nose at them and asks for a vegemite sandwich instead. Not that I’m worried about my boy doing this, of course. No, not one little bit.

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Have you ever considered what you would do if you came across a parent who didn’t share your views on immunisation? Beth Johnston explores the social minefield of immunisation.


icture this: eight new mothers, sitting around chatting in a newly formed mother’s group at a house in the northern suburbs. One mum, let’s call her Robin, takes

a sip of tea and with the group now quiet, says, “So what’s everyone doing about immunisation?” I’m shocked. What are we doing about immunisation? It’s 2011 and I’m new to this parenting game, blissfully unaware that any kind of debate around vaccination even exists. I thought it was something we all just did because it protected our children. I decide to sit back and let others speak first, to see if I’m the odd one out. Robin continues, “I was doing some research on the internet on whether or not vaccination can cause autism, I found some pretty scary stuff so I think I’m going to go with natural immunisation instead.” ‘Natural’ immunisation is something I had never heard of before. It turns out I wasn’t alone in being concerned by these comments, as the other six mothers in the group also had a raised eyebrow. The ‘natural’ immunisation Robin was referring to was a homeopathic alternative, which is meant to stimulate the body’s natural healing response. It’s her choice and she’s entitled to that, but my instincts are to protect my own child and I wonder if I should associate with Robin and her baby. On the other side of town, Katie Attwell found herself facing an even trickier social situation – she was the odd one out in a group of mothers who had decided not to immunise their children. Katie had always been

Immunisation is such a sensitive issue because ultimately the decision that we make for our child will influence the health of others 28

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

pro-vaccination and contracting adult mumps solidified that decision for her. Having a homebirth for her second child, using cloth nappies and baby wearing drew Katie into a community of parents who shared similar values.

Some may call them alternative. Regardless of titles, it soon became clear to Katie that her views on vaccination were something she did not share with her new friends. Katie attended a coffee morning run by a local community

as a project officer. Immunisation is an incredibly emotive issue. Nationally, Australia’s child immunisation rate sits at around 92 per cent, but there are still almost 77,000 children who are not fully

not-for-profit group shortly after the airing of the SBS

immunised, according to the National Health Performance

documentary The Vaccine Wars. It soon became the topic

Authority (2011-2012 Healthy Communities report). The

of discussion and Katie began feeling very isolated. “I was

current immunisation schedule sees a baby born in Australia

really upset because pretty much everyone in the room was saying they wouldn’t vaccinate their babies and hadn’t vaccinated their older children either,” she recalls. “Then there were others who didn’t know what decision to make, but it felt like it was just the norm in that community that you don’t

receive approximately 14 vaccinations

“I was really upset because pretty much everyone in the room was saying they wouldn’t vaccinate their babies and hadn’t vaccinated their older children either.” Katie Attwell

vaccinate your children. I felt very isolated and frightened.” Katie was astounded that a community so passionate about living ethically shared a view which she believed simply did not fit with the rest of their values. It became an

from birth until the age of four to potentially protect them against 12 serious illnesses (which can vary from state to state). Julie Leask is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, University of Sydney and a Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation

Research and Surveillance. Julie says immunisation is such a sensitive issue because ultimately the decision that we make for our child will influence the health of others. Julie is quick to point out that Australia does not have

area of great interest for Katie and she ended up joining an

declining immunisation rates, but says public confidence

immunisation alliance committee, at first as a volunteer then

is an issue that needs closer monitoring. However, she says

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common denominator, it’s about people passionately and sincerely wanting to protect their children.” Catherine Ranford is a midwife and mother of two who chose not to fully immunise her second child, now eight years old. When her daughter Bethany was born, Catherine recalls as a new mother she simply went along with the status quo and “did as she was told”, fully vaccinating. When she had her second child, Peter, she decided to do some research into vaccination and wasn’t comfortable with what she found. “I decided still to vaccinate Peter, but to delay until he was six months old and then just do them one at a time,” Catherine says. “My husband agreed and we found a very supportive GP. We just wanted to give his immune system time to mature and introduce them gradually so it wouldn’t potentially knock his system around. “But then Peter had a severe reaction to his second vaccination, with vomiting and extremely high temperatures and after that we decided not to go ahead with any other vaccinations.” Peter has been a healthy child and Catherine says she most parents with concern about vaccination will still go

has never had any issues at school or day care, something

on to immunise their children. Through their research they

she believes breastfeeding played a large part in. If she

have developed different positions people might take on

had her time again, Catherine says she would most likely

immunisation, from unquestioning acceptance right through

have practiced delayed vaccination with Bethany too, but

to total rejection of vaccines. She says the latter only accounts

she does not preach on the topic. “If someone knows Peter

for 2 per cent or less of unvaccinated

isn’t vaccinated and asks me about it,

children, but non-vaccinators tend to

I will talk about it but it’s certainly not

cluster in certain regions.

something I go around debating,” she

“The people who oppose

says. “I won’t give advice because it’s

immunisation, their feelings are tied

a really personal decision that should

up in disquiet about conventional

be made between a child’s parents and

medicine and medicine’s occasion but

their GP.”

spectacular failures such as thalidomide

One of the main advocates for

and resulting mistrust that can

families who choose not to vaccinate

engender in some people,” Julie explains.

is the Australian Vaccination

“Unfortunately that can spill over into

Network (currently in the midst of

vaccination. Then there are heightened

a name change due to ruling by the

levels of frustration about the public

Administrative Decisions Tribunal). AVN

discussion around non-vaccinating

public officer, Meryl Dorey, says they

parents where they are made to feel

believe vaccination should always be

like they are being actively negligent

a matter of personal, informed choice.

or irresponsible and there have been punitive measures proposed such as removing their family tax benefits. “On either side it taps into very strong feelings that people have around their children and I think if you could reduce it down to a


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

She says their members

On either side it taps into very strong feelings that people have around their children and I think if you could reduce it down to a common denominator, it’s about people passionately and sincerely wanting to protect their children. Julie Leask

vary in their opinions on vaccination, with some still choosing to vaccinate, some vaccinating selectively and some not vaccinating at all. According to Meryl, those families choosing not to vaccinate do so for a

few reasons; it could be as the result of having a child or

everybody is immunising and someone says they’re not,” she

knowing of someone who had a reaction to a previous dose

says. “Then the other mums will worry that represents a risk

of vaccine, prompting them to research the topic further.

to their children and it can create a lot of tension and can be

“Another reason is that they don’t necessary believe

quite a divisive topic.

the vaccines are going to be protective,” Meryl says. “They

“But it isn’t a massive debate. It’s made to look like that

are questioning the effectiveness and the safety, from

because the opponents of immunisation are a small group

the perspective of the ingredients of vaccinations and

but they are incredible vocal, very committed and active.

contaminations as well as the long term and autoimmune

“There is such a strong reaction to them that it looks like

problems that have been associated with vaccinations.

there is a hot debate where there is 50-50, but those national figures show

not giving them to my child,’ they’s a really personal decision that should be made between a child’s parents and their GP.

are doing lots of research, reading

Catherine Ranford

of circumstances so that children are

“They are not simply saying, ‘I don’t care about vaccinations, I’m

medical journals, consulting with

it’s only around 2 per cent not wanting to vaccinate. The other issue is when poverty or social exclusion creates a set inadvertently late for their vaccines.

health practitioners on both sides of the fence and after that,

“In medicine, there is overwhelming commitment to

making the decision that for their child, they feel that the

vaccines because they are largely safe and effective. Of

risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits.”

course, like any medicine, vaccines bring some risk and

Meryl speaks of families being vilified for their decision.

some vaccines are not as effective as others. I think in

While there is no doubt that the issue can cause immense

medicine we’ve got a real role to communicate honestly

friction, Julie Leask says that there is actually no massive

and frankly with parents about the importance of

debate surrounding immunisation.

vaccination and also some of their minor limitations, so

“It can be terribly awkward in those situations where

parents go in with realistic expectations.”





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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring


Real Life

Bright sparks BY ZOE DELEUIL


Mum to two boys who are both members of MENSA, chats to Zoe Deleuil about the unique challenges and rewards of raising exceptionally intelligent children.


any parents secretly believe their offspring are somewhat advanced, but beating the usual milestones by

a couple of years is a less common experience. When Caversham mother Imelda Bhalsod’s son, Isaac, could identify more than twenty colours at eleven months of age, started reading at two and could complete 500-piece jigsaws by the age of four, she wondered if she needed to do more to satisfy his appetite for learning. “He was different,” says Imelda. “I was with him all the time so I just knew. Maybe it

“There’s a difference between highachieving kids and ones with high IQs.”

was my maternal instinct.”

His younger brother, Jeremiah, now four, soon followed suit with an IQ in the 99.7th percentile rank. “We could see a pattern this time, so we weren’t surprised when he showed early signs of being exceptional.” The boys are also members of The Gifted and

She had him sent for a psychometric

Talented Children’s Association of WA (, which

assessment in January 2013, where he was found to

gives them the opportunity to mix with other bright kids,

have an IQ in the 99th percentile rank (the top one per cent

play in a chess club and go on excursions, and also provides

of the population) at the age of five. This meant he could join

resources to parents.

Mensa, the best-known high-IQ society in the world, which

Although genes clearly play a part, with both Imelda and her

accepts people with a score within the top two per cent of the

husband, Ashwin, being University educated, the couple believe


that the boys’ giftedness is a blessing from God. Imelda also feels that providing her boys with a secure base has benefited their learning.

Is your child gifted? As a parent you are in the best position to identify your child’s talents and passions. Signs that your child may be particularly gifted include: n An unusually good memory n Early reading n An awareness of world events

“We’ve always stuck to a routine, with set times for naps, n Unusual hobbies or interests, or an in-depth knowledge of certain subjects n Asks questions all the time n Developed sense of humour n Musical n Likes to be in control n Makes up additional rules for games

music practise, play time, TV. Every night we read in bed with them for half an hour. If they know what the basic routine is then that frees them up to be learning and exploring. They also spend a lot of time on the computer, but we’re strict about what they do. They have a wide range of literacy-based computer software which are great fun and wonderfully educational, and they can play strategy games such as chess, but we don’t allow computer games.”


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

FEATURE As well as school and extracurricular activities such as violin and chess, the boys are given every opportunity to learn and discover in their own time. “The weekends are much freer – there’s no routine. They spend a lot of time outdoors and we go on short trips away to

want to move on,” says Imelda. “And you have to be aware of peer pressure. Lots of Mensa

caravan parks so they can roam around. The boys love rock

parents are afraid that their children will underachieve in

climbing, golfing and fishing with their dad. We try to give them

school because they want to fit in, they don’t want to be

a balance between fun and work,” says Imelda.

the ‘nerdy’ one. And you can’t talk freely about these issues

And are there any challenges to raising a gifted child?

because people might think you are suffering from ‘First World

“When Isaac was in pre-primary his teacher told us that he

problems’. Fortunately their school has been fantastic – they

was often playing up because he was simply bored. He was

are always asking us what they can do to help.”

then accelerated into Year 1 at the recommendation of a

IQ testing has been criticised over the years for focussing

psychologist. Jeremiah has also skipped a year in school. Once

only on a narrow range of skills, without measuring qualities

they’ve mastered something they don’t want to repeat it, they

such as emotional intelligence. Some gifted children also feel

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring


Real Life

“The boys love rock climbing, golfing and fishing with their dad. We try to give them a balance between fun and work.”

isolated from their peers, preferring the company of adults, but fortunately Imelda has not found this

blessed. I’ll be here for them as long as they need me.” It’s natural to wonder what lies ahead for such bright children, but for now the family is happy to just let them enjoy being kids. “I don’t know what they’ll be when they grow up.

to be an issue. “They will

That’s not something we can plan. At the moment Isaac wants

play with anyone – older and

to be a vet and Jeremiah a pilot, but that may change. We don’t

younger kids. The school has a great community that they feel a part

want to push them in a particular direction, because if they choose it for themselves they will be happy.”

of, and they have also made friends through Mensa, GATCA, music classes and Sunday School at church.” Imelda also stresses that she’s no pushy Tiger Mum. “There’s a difference between high-achieving kids and ones with high IQs. The gifted kids work less because they already have the ability and you don’t need to push them. Our kids are dragging us behind them; we’re just trying to keep up. All we can do is make the resources available. For example, I introduced them to music, but it was their decision to play the violin, and because they chose it themselves they like it.” Imelda doesn’t see herself going back to work in the near future, but plans to devote her time to giving her boys the attention they need. “I look at it not as a sacrifice but a privilege. A lot of women don’t have the option to stay home

About Mensa ( Mensa was founded in Oxford in 1946 by Australian barrister Roland Berrill and Oxford student Lancelot Ware. The test to join Mensa is now held four times a year. There are some 1300 Mensa members in Australia, with five members under the age of five. Mensa does not assess children under the age of 14, but they can sit a Mensa-approved test, conducted by a registered psychologist, and submit the results. A qualifying score is a result at or above the 98th percentile — that is, a score in the range achieved by the top two percent of the population. Being smarter than the average person can be an isolating way of life, so the main benefit for many members is a chance to connect with other, exceptionally bright, people, along with learning more about themselves. Parents of Mensa children also find they can talk comfortably about their children’s educational needs without feeling like they are boasting.

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Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

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with Gary Ausbruch

with the Griswolds

Gary shares why his holidays with kids often resemble scenes from National Lampoon’s Vacation.


seemed too hard. The whinging car journey, all the extra luggage, having to basically pack the pantry, the disruption to sleep patterns…and they’re just my issues. The thought

hat is it about holiday time that turns me into

of a holiday has seemed daunting, and not at all relaxing.

Clarke W Griswold, and my wife and kids into

Like taking what was already a tiring life and making it even

Ellen, Audrey and Rusty? For those not familiar

more tiring by cramming it in a station wagon and moving

with the Griswolds, they are the family from the National

it a few hundred kilometres down the road. Probably to a

Lampoon’s Vacation series of movies, whose endeavours to

house with a skanky shower curtain and a floral-patterned

enjoy family holidays are continually plagued by minor

bedspread with a very well-camouflaged history.

disasters and unfortunate predicaments. Whilst our recent


It’s only recently that I’ve even wanted to go on holidays again since having kids. Even going Down South has just

But after a few years of taking a strange pride in my

holiday didn’t cause the destruction of any prehistoric

swelling annual leave balance, I decided it was time to go

monuments, there’s something about being on holiday that

on a decent holiday again. From the outset, this holiday

seems to bring out the Griswold in us.

felt different, and it was like we’d started a new chapter.

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

Our kids have got to the ages where they’ve started to

more memorable. This holiday was a milestone that will

wipe their own bottoms. I mean that in the physical sense

hopefully encourage me to throw caution to the annual leave

(well, most of the time), and the metaphorical sense too,

balance and start booking more in.

in that their independence and self-sufficiency has had a

Good or bad, it’s amazing how the things that happen on

step change improvement, and we as parents can let go

holidays when you’re a kid are often memories that stick

of the reins slightly. In a holiday scenario, this meant our

with you your whole life. Hopefully, the holiday we just

kids could go running around the expansive backyard of

had and the ones to come will have that effect on my kids.

the holiday house by themselves for the afternoon while

Goodness knows I’m still getting over the nude beach in

Mum and Dad actually could relax. It was something I

the south of France my parents “accidently” took me to as

hadn’t done for years.

a six year old.

Of course there was the odd Griswoldish moment that Chevy Chase would have been proud of. The first one even reminded me of the scene in European Vacation where the dachshund chases Rusty’s beret off the top of the Eiffel Tower. Roof-Roof, the dog, was just hanging his head out the car window feeling the wind in his fluffy little ears, when the


next thing he knew he was lying on the road staring up at a semi-trailer approaching. Fortunately, he’s a pretty resilient stuffed toy. And then there was the maze rage incident. Feeling frustrated by the difficulty of the maze that surely had been designed as a way of tormenting adults rather than a fun activity for children, I attempted to sneak through a gate with a “Do not sneak through” sign, and was sprung by a smug-looking dad gazing down from the lookout tower at the maze’s finish. One of those guys with his shirt tucked into his shorts and camera round his neck. Let’s just say he’s lucky he wasn’t there when I made it to the tower an hour-

The whinging car journey, all the extra luggage, having to basically pack the pantry, the disruption to sleep patterns…

and-a-half later. Looking back on it though, it was actually those moments, along with many other less


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traumatic experiences, that made the holiday

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring




Teaching your child cyber safety and online smarts in 2014 is as important as learning to swim and cross the road, reveals renowned child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.


ICHAEL Carr-Gregg doesn’t beat around the bush. Passionate, frank and to the point, the child and adolescent psychologist is a realist.

He’s acutely aware that society now lives in a digital world.

And he holds grave concerns that most parents “don’t have a clue” about the plethora of cyber dangers and potential “nasties” facing their children online these days. But the internet, he says, is not a demon. And social media is not something to shun. Instead, the answer is to embrace it – with caution – and instil a family internet policy to protect children without limiting their freedom to learn, explore and communicate online. As one of Australia’s foremost experts on cyberbullying, Dr Carr-Gregg says parents and other adults underestimate the dangers facing youngsters and the damaging psychological effects of online harassment. He says we are living with the phenomenon of “digital Dutch courage” where children and teenagers show extreme bravado and say and do things online that they would never contemplate in real life. And the advent of the internet, smart phones and tablets has added a whole new 24/7 digital dimension to traditional schoolyard bullying. In days gone by, bullying victims were afforded some respite outside of school hours with their homes providing a temporary safe haven. But these days, online interactions happen around the clock. “School has changed a lot,” Dr Carr-Gregg says. “When I was at school and I was bored, we would just play with our yoyos…These days it’s very different.” His new book, Beyond Cyberbullying, provides an up-to-date manual for digital parenting, highlighting significant issues facing mums and dads.

“You can’t dump your kids in the digital stream and just think that they’re going to float away happily.”


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

PARENTING As a father-of-two and a long-running child protection advocate, Dr Carr-Gregg wants parents to exercise greater control over their children’s online use and is calling for

TIPS FOR PARENTS Ask your child about their online interactions and the

cybersafety education to be an essential part of the primary


and secondary school curriculum in all Australian schools.

people they are friends with.

He also supports the introduction of an e-safety

Limit social networking to one hour a day for children.


For every hour of “screen time”, ensure your child

commissioner, which is currently under consideration by the


Federal Government, and wants children to sit “digital drivers’

invests another two hours in play (preferably outside).

license” tests to demonstrate they have the skills to use online


resources responsibly.

them offline. Be sympathetic and supportive.

If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, do not take

“What I want to say to parents is that the internet isn’t going away,” Dr Carr-Gregg says. “You can’t dump your kids in the digital stream and just think that they’re going to float

images and videos by mobile phone, warning that such acts

away happily.

constitute “child pornography”.

“There are significant dangers in terms of cyberbullying and

According to the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation,

sexting. And the reality is that if your kid does something really

a national charity charged with protecting children from

dumb, they could actually end up on the sex offenders’ register.”

violence, one in four young Australians are bullied at least once

Dr Carr-Gregg says cyberbullying comes in many forms including harassing and threatening SMS messages, pictures or

a fortnight. Studies show that children are at the greatest risk of

prank phone calls, impersonating a person’s screen name and

cyberbullying during the transition from primary to secondary

posting “set-up” images and videos online.

school and again at Year 9. It’s no surprise that the perpetrators

He urges parents to be especially vigilant of the “sexting” phenomenon, which involves the sharing of sexually explicit

of traditional schoolyard bullying are the same kids who harass others online.

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Dr Carr-Gregg wants parents to exercise greater control over their children’s online use and is calling for cybersafety education to be an essential part of the primary and secondary school curriculum in all Australian schools. Latest research by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found up to 21 per cent of 14-15 year olds reported being cyberbullied in 2013. Disturbingly, the study also found that 13 per cent of 16-17 year olds reported that they or their friends had been involved in “sexting” and had sent sexually suggestive nude or almost nude photos or videos of themselves. Eighteen per cent of 16-17 year

addiction to knowing what is actually happening –

olds reported receiving such messages.

and obviously being out of the loop in adolescence

“Cyberbullying is basically another form of bullying, but in cyberspace,” Dr CarrGregg says. “A lot of it is through text messages saying incredibly unkind and nasty things, spreading rumours, exclusion, teasing, taunting – so it’s really just an electronic version of what used to happen in the schoolyard. “Now we’ve got the additional problem of Facebook bullying… and of course, that gets seen by a lot of people. “There are ‘burn books’ that name and shame people online, the ratings system where people rate their desirability from

equals social death.” That has been compacted by a general reluctance by parents to parent, he says. “There seems to be a ‘Vitamin N’ deficiency in Australia at the moment and parents are very hesitant to say ‘No’. “There seems to be this desire to be your child’s best friend, and to not put limits and boundaries around the internet is hugely problematic. “I’m saying to parents that the use of the wi-fi network shouldn’t be taken as a right. “They should use random wi-fi password generators so that

a sexual point-of-view – all of these things are 24/7. They are

every morning when the kids wake up there’s a new password.

humiliating, they’re repeated and seen over and over again and

And they may like to put a note on their fridge that says:

cause considerable distress in terms of anxiety, depression,

‘Morning kids, would you like today’s wi-fi password? If so,

self-harm and suicidal ideation.”

make your bed, walk the dog and do your allocated chores’.

Dr Carr-Gregg says that, contrary to popular beliefs, research has shown there are significant advantages for young people using social networking, but conceded the FOMO or “Fear Of

“To me, this is from the University of the bleeding obvious but a lot of parents just aren’t doing it.” He urged parents to install blocking programs on computers

Missing Out” phobia was one of the biggest factors contributing

to control children’s internet use. Programs such as Cold Turkey

to social networking addiction.

and Self Control can block all social networking sites for either

“I do believe there is an obsession, particularly amongst my clients, with missing out on what’s going on,’’ he said. “It’s an

30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes. Dr Carr-Gregg says the issue of cyberbullying is often complicated by the fact that the vast majority of kids are not disclosing when they are being harassed or victimised online.


“That is catastrophically bad because it means that nothing is done about it,” he says. “It’s the duration and the frequency in which cyberbullying

To not respond to the message or image.

is carried out that is directly proportional to the psychological

Save the evidence.

harm in terms of depression, anxiety, deliberate self-harm and

Block and delete the sender.

suicidal thoughts. That is an absolutely pivotal message.

n n n

Report the situation to the website or internet


service provider. Tell trusted people, friends, adults, teachers, parents

“The second issue is to make sure that your children know how to respond, that is not to respond but to delete


the message and save the evidence to report. These are

and police, if necessary.

fundamental skills which are as important as teaching your child to swim and cross the road in 2014.”


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

PARENTING Parents should be on the look-out for several tell-tale signs

that is ludicrous. How do you justify putting sexually curious

of cyberbullying, including if a child avoids the computer,

kids in with convicted paedophiles and how can you be the

won’t discuss their online activities, shows anxiety every time

perpetrator and the victim of the same crime?”

a text message arrives, sleeplessness, mood changes, appetite changes or falling grades.

The answer, he says, is a streamlined and mandatory cybersafety curriculum to educate children. He cites the

“These are critical indicators that parents need to be

Alannah and Madeline Foundation, which had developed

attuned for because prompt intervention and prompt action is

several child protection programs, including eSmart

associated with a much better outcome.”

frameworks for homes, libraries and schools.

One of Dr Carr-Gregg’s most serious concerns is child pornography laws that he says have not kept pace with the changing technological landscape, including the issue of “sexting” amongst kids. “One of the things that really frightens me is that you can have a 13-year-old kid

“We need to proactively educate these kids in

“The FOMO or “Fear Of Missing Out” phobia was one of the biggest factors contributing to social networking addiction”.

who takes picture of his genitals with the

schools. At the moment there is a huge variety of cyber safety. There is no one system, no set of standards. In the UK, for example, cyber safety education is mandatory in primary school.” Currently, only the Victorian and Queensland education departments have rolled out the foundation’s framework to all their schools, but

school iPad and sends it to a few mates and can be prosecuted

some individual schools in other states have opted to introduce

under section 474.20 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

the policy independently.

1995, which makes it an offence to possess, manufacture or distribute child pornography,’’ he says. “I do not understand how that warrants being put on the

“It’s ironic that only Victoria and Queensland have taken up e-Smart as a framework for their schools,” Dr Carr-Gregg says. “What that means is that a generation of kids will be getting

sex offenders register or 15 years in jail or a $500,000 fine. To

substandard cyber safety education, and in some cases no

me, putting kids on a sex offender register for something like

cyber safety education at all. I think that is intolerable.”

Holistic Pre & Postnatal Care for You The LifePod is a holistic studio specialising in prenatal care and women’s health. Known as the one-stop shop throughout your pregnancy and beyond, The LifePod offers: • Calmbirth® – Develop confidence, fearlessness and excitement about approaching the birth of your baby. • Prenatal / Birthing Yoga – Embrace your pregnancy, enjoy feeling strong, prepared and calm. • Postnatal Yoga – A relaxed and fun time for mother and baby to connect. • Health and Wellness Coaching – Upgrade your health, feel and look your best! Call The LifePod today to get the best pre & postnatal care for you & your baby Paddington, Sydney 93571906

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Our internet picks SHOPPING online is fun and convenient. Now there is fantastic range of fashion items and great buys for the family. However, looking for good-quality sites can be overwhelming with such a large number from which to choose. Finding your way around can be daunting! We’ve provided a few good Australian sites, including a couple from WA, which offer a great range of stylish, beautiful and practical items to help point you in the right direction.

The Baby Closet is a beautiful Australian online store established in 2011 specifically for the style conscious new mother. Known for its fantastic customer service and exquisite range of products, The Baby Closet is fast becoming the go to place for the most beautiful baby gifts and gorgeous baby essentials. The Baby Closet offers everything a new mum is looking for including an exclusive range of cots, change tables, nursing chairs, nappy bags, cot linen and more. The Baby Closet offers fast shipping with a low flat rate of just $5 Australia Wide and free on orders over $150 (excluding furniture). Complimentary gift wrapping, gift registry and personal message service is also available In a quaint little town on the South Coast of NSW you’ll find Passionfish Candles, makers of extraordinary Soy Candles. Jason & Kylie create environmentally friendly, unique and uplifting scents for your space and specialise in exotic homewares. Also in stock: - Votive Candles - Soy Wax Melts & Essential Oils - Fragrant Reed Diffusers - Oil Burners, Candle Plates & Holders - Glowing Art Glass - Ecoya Candles Visit the website today or contact them at 25 Bate St, Central Tilba NSW 2546. T. 02 4473 7714

Use code OFFSPRING at checkout to receive free delivery

A family owned Coffee Roaster and Cafe located on the beautiful NSW South Coast – selling their range of coffees online since 2009. From single origin – including Fair Trade Organic coffee – to delicious blends, your beans are freshly roasted so your coffee is full of flavour and aroma from your first to your last. Order beans - ground or whole – online today or visit the café when in Narooma. 2/40 Princes Hwy, Narooma NSW 2546 T. 02 4405 9523

Receive 10% off your order for a limited time – use promotional code: offspring Code offer valid 01/03/14 to 29/05/14


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

Lime Tree Kids is an online and bricks-and-mortar store on the Gold Coast that believes in “making life stylish, unique and fun” for parents. Products range from eco-friendly essentials for babies & delightful toys for toddlers to gorgeous backpacks, lunch bags and everything else for school. They’ve recently introduced gorgeous home décor as well. All products are hand-picked by Shelley Mason - Founder and mum to two. Shop at or visit the store at Unit 44/38, Kendor St., Arundel, Qld, 4214.


Free Shipping on Orders over $150.

Tucked away in Dolphin Quay, Mandurah, you’ll find a little boutique called Aster & Ruby. Filled with gorgeous handmade and Australian designed products for babies, women and children, this is a shop not to be missed. In store you’ll find clothing, gifts, toys, nursery, maternity, shoes, accessories and so much more! Shop 5 Dolphin Quay, 37 Dolphin Drive Mandurah Ocean Marina

Free shipping for Offspring readers, enter the promo code SHIPFREE Avidiva is a Perth based online boutique filled with homemade, eco-friendly and organic baby products. Our collection of more than 40 brands includes: Aden & Anais Milk Baby Dandelion Kicky Pants Charli Bear Free gift registry available for baby showers Contact: 0420 720930

Free shipping Australia wide for all orders over $50 Teesh is an online store providing practical, simple and colourful accessories for tween girls. Their product ranges from necklaces to customised bookmarks. It makes a perfect birthday gift or stocking filler. • Flat rate shipping fee of $5 Australia wide •

30 day return policy

Use code “OFFSPRING15” at checkout to receive 15% off your total order.

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Maternity Care BY NICOLE COX

Selecting the best birth option Working out where to give birth to your baby is a big decision. Here are some things to consider when deciding on the right maternity care for you and your baby.


for you and your baby

health cover and secondly, because I wanted to be in what I thought were the best hands,” she says. “I guess you’re a bit precious about the first one. You think you’re the only person who’s ever had a baby so I wanted the experience to be five star – and the room was, it was like a hotel. “When I had my second daughter, I found the level of care great (at a public hospital).The nurses were fantastic. I felt really supported…They all had similar opinions on what to do and I felt very confident about breastfeeding.

ITH more than 800 babies born in Australia

“I was a bit of a private hospital snob to begin with, but after

every day, it is the perennial question asked by

my experience at the public hospital, I would recommend the

expectant mothers. Where do I have my baby?

public system,” she said.

Who will provide us the best care? Do I choose an

Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows

obstetrician or put my faith in midwives to deliver my child?

that 98,508 babies were born in New South Wales in 2012 –

And, if I have private health insurance, should I pay for a

about a third of all infant births in the nation.

“five-star hotel-like experience” or take the free option with a public hospital?

So, if you’re about to add to those statistics, here are a few things to consider when making your decision.

Mother-of-three Amanda Mannino says choosing private maternity hospitals for each of her pregnancies has given her peace of mind. “I chose to go private because I imagined I would be in

Public v Private

Public: The pros

the best place and have the best care for myself and for my

w There is usually no cost to having your baby in the public

babies, with the special care nursery and expert staff on

health system, with almost all care covered by the hospital.

hand,” she says.

Ultrasounds, pathology, blood tests and pre and ante-natal

“It was also important for me to have a familiar doctor –

classes are all included.

someone who I had confidence in and trusted, not only during

w Women with low-risk pregnancies can choose to deliver

the delivery, but throughout the entire pregnancy.

their baby at a birthing centre, which is usually a more

“Going private really was a family experience. The rooms

relaxed bedroom-like set-up and is adjoined to a main hospital.

were lovely and had a double-bed so my husband could stay

w Intervention rates are usually lower at public hospitals.

overnight and lend a hand.”

w Public hospitals usually have the very best specialist care for

Kelly Sherriffs experienced both the private and public

sick newborn babies.

maternity systems with the births of her two daughters. Mrs Sherriffs delivered her first-born, Sophie, eight years ago at a private hospital and last year opted to go public with her second daughter, Lucy, keen to try for a natural birth after a caesarean the first-time around. “Being your first child, you’re very unsure about the whole experience so I went private – firstly, because we had private


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics es shows that 98,508 babi h ut were born in New So Wales in 2012 – about a third of all infant births in the nation.

Public: The cons w Usually you can’t pick and choose which public hospital you would like to deliver your baby. Due to high demand, some hospitals only accept bookings from women who live locally. w You are more likely to share a room if you opt to go public, although some public hospitals do offer private rooms. w Depending on the hospital and the type of delivery, you may be asked to go home earlier than

choose, you can stay longer at a private hospital to recover. Usually women who deliver vaginally stay three


w Depending on your delivery and which hospital you

or four nights and those who deliver by caesarean stay about a week.

Private: The cons w Private obstetricians can charge thousands of dollars to manage a pregnancy. Fees vary from between $3000 and $10,000, although some of this can be recouped by private health insurance. You may incur additional costs for paediatric care, prenatal education classes, anaesthesia and pharmaceuticals. w Private obstetricians must have visiting rights at the hospital where you choose to deliver your baby. It may pay to book the private hospital first and then ask for a list of which obstetricians practise there. w Because obstetricians also need holidays and time off from work, there is no guarantee that your doctor will attend the delivery. w If you are delivering naturally, the obstetrician often only arrives in the final stages of delivery and a midwife looks after you throughout labour.

a new mum at a private hospital. At public hospitals

Having a baby in Sydney? Here are some options

women who have vaginal deliveries stay two to three days,


while those who have caesareans stay about five days.

Westbourne St, St Leonards | Phone: (02) 8425 3000

Women who deliver in a birthing suite are usually discharged

after 24 hours.

The hospital’s maternity unit offers seven birthing suites,

w You are likely to have many different nurses, midwives and

with six of those having en-suite bathrooms including a

doctors looking after you during your pregnancy and delivery.

bath and shower. Lactation and neonatal specialists are

w Fees may be charged to you if you opt to have your own

available, along with pre-natal education classes. Your

obstetrician deliver your baby at a public hospital.

partner or support person is provided overnight facilities in the birthing suites.

Private: The pros w You will have a trusted obstetrician and someone you know looking after you if something goes wrong during your


pregnancy and delivery.

185 Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga

w If you have a caesarean, your obstetrician will usually perform

Phone: (02) 9487 9111 |

the procedure.

Sydney Adventist Hospital is undergoing a $181 million

w Private hospitals often have nurseries where nurses will

redevelopment, with a new maternity unit due to open

care for newborns while new mums can recover or catch

mid-2014. It will include 56 private rooms where partners

up on sleep.

can stay overnight, nine birthing suites with ensuites and

w Most people say that private hospitals have nicer rooms and

baths, a 24-hour baby nursery and a special care nursery.

often your partner is able to stay overnight.

There will also be two dedicated birthing rooms for water

w Some private hospitals have teamed up with hotels,

births. About 2000 babies a year are born at the hospital,

where new mums who have had a straight-forward birth

which offers 4D ultrasounds, education classes on birthing,

are able to recover in a hotel suite. Private health funds often

breastfeeding and parenting and pre and post-natal aqua

pay this fee.

and pilates classes.

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring





Corner of Mons & Darcy Roads, Westmead

Missenden Road, Camperdown | Phone: (02) 9515 6111

Phone: (02) 8837 9000 |

Westmead Private guarantees a private room to all new parents

The Royal Prince Alfred is one of New South Wale’s biggest

after the birth of their baby.

tertiary public hospitals. Established in 1882, it offers a raft of

The hospital’s services include six birthing suites, a 10

services including maternity and a birthing centre. Only people

cot special care nursery and a postnatal ward with 32 beds.

who live in certain suburbs are approved for ante-natal care.

Lactation and neonatal specialists are available, along with pre-

Parent education classes are offered, along with hospital tours.

natal education classes.


Blacktown Road, Blacktown | Phone: (02) 9881 8000

Barker Street, Randwick | Phone: (02) 9382 6111

Blacktown Hospital is a public hospital in western Sydney.

This is the only public women’s hospital in New South Wales.

It offers maternity services, ante-natal care and a special care

Its history dates back to 1820 and is a principal teaching

nursery for seriously ill infants. The hospital opened in 1965 with

hospital of the University of NSW for obstetrics, gynaecology

160 beds and had grown to accommodate 534 patients at a time

and neonatology. Each year the hospital delivers more than

across its Blacktown and Mt Druitt campuses.

4200 babies and cares for more than 600 premature infants. It also manages high-risk pregnancies and at-risk newborns


and offers a Newborn Care Centre where experts care for

Rocklands Road, North Sydney | Phone: 02 9900 7300

very sick infants Mater Hospital welcomes 2500 babies each year and guarantees


private rooms for maternity patients. Mater maternity care is

40 Bigge Street, Liverpool | Phone: (02) 9600 4000

an integrated collaborative team of obstetricians, midwives,

maternity social workers and lactation experts to guide in the

The hospital offers three birthing suites and a special care

planning and development of your pregnancy.

nursery for emergencies, along with 22 refurbished private rooms where your partner can stay. Parent education is


offered and paediatricians available for consultations. Tours

Barker Street, Randwick | Phone: 02 9650 4000

of the maternity unit can be arranged for expectant parents. The private hospital offers premier maternity services including


rooms with ensuites and baths, digital wide screen televisions

Canterbury Road, Campsie | Phone: (02) 9787 0000

and special birthing beds to adapt to different birthing positions.

New parents have the option of staying at the Crown Plaza

Canterbury Hospital is a public hospital in Sydney’s south-

Coogee Beach after the birth of your baby if the delivery was

western suburbs. It first started operating in 1929 and was

straight-forward and without complication. There is a midwife

rebuilt in 1998. The hospital has 217 beds and offers a range of

on site at the hotel at all times for education and assistance and

services including obstetrics and gynaecology.

partners are allowed to stay as well.

$10 off your first order use codeword “Offspring”


Book your session now (preferably before birth)

Ph: 0425 293 639


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

A select range of traditional French-style Market Baskets – handmade in Morocco. Visit $5 postage Australia wide


The best care at North Shore Private M

aternity Services at North Shore Private Hospital (NSPH) have been developed to provide flexibility and choice with a focus on you and your baby’s individualised care. The hospital offers a range of childbirth and parenting programs to prepare you for the birth of your child and adjustments to family life. For elective caesarean section they aim to ensure that you remain with your newborn and support person throughout the recovery period.

Representative throughout your pregnancy, to provide you with information about your upcoming hospital stay, and all associated services that the hospital provides.

How to book Once your pregnancy has been confirmed and you have arranged an appointment with an obstetrician accredited to NSPH, please fill in their online booking registration form.

The Birthing Suite The Birthing Suite comprises large modern birthing rooms that ensure a personal and safe environment for your birthing experience.

Maternity Customer Service Representatives You will be contacted by your dedicated Maternity Customer Service

Guaranteed Private Room NSPH is pleased to offer all of their maternity patients the guarantee of a private room.

Platinum Package NSPH offers a Platinum Suite Package to provide couples the opportunity to stay together in hospital after the birth of their baby in a double-bed parenting

suite with special inclusions. This is subject to availability and cannot be prebooked. There is an additional charge for the package, which is not covered by most health funds. Celebration Dinner A candlelit dinner for two is the hospital’s way of congratulating you and your partner on becoming new parents, whilst they safely care for your baby in their nursery. North Shore Private Hospital looks forward to sharing this experience with you. For more information visit

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



I’m a San Baby A

sk most parents what they want from childbirth and the answer has been the same since time began: A healthy baby and mother, and a memorable experience. The important thing is to choose the right place. Parents need to ask the right questions: 1. Does it provide access to all the acute high dependency medical facilities and services mother and baby might need? 2. Does it have a reputation for excellent medical and nursing care? 3. Does it accommodate our birth plan? 4. Does it have good visiting hours and can partners stay? 5. Can it help with baby, parenting and breastfeeding skills, and our emotional needs? 6. Does it respect our faith, our culture, our choices for our baby? 7. Is it family friendly? 8. Is there assistance to give mums rest time?

Giving your baby the be st start. Choosing the right place does matter. 9. Can we get advice after we go home? 10. Does it have all modern comforts and technology so it’s ‘a home away from home’? Michelle McKenzie Director Maternity, Paediatrics and Nursing at Sydney Adventist Hospital, fondly known as ‘The San’, says the place of birth often ends up being equally important to the babies themselves. “I’m delighted at how people cherish being born here. I’ve had toddlers, parents and grandparents boasting ‘I’m a San Baby you know.’ “They are so proud. It’s like it’s a badge of honour. That makes our maternity team feel special as well. We realise we are really helping build a happy, healthy and connected community.” For more information on booking into the San’s modern state-of-the-art new and expanded Maternity Unit due to open from mid-2014, ring 02 9487 9902.

We’re expecting! Our brand new maternity unit is opening later this year… Beautifully decorated private ensuite rooms with spectacular views (and space for your partner to stay), state-of-the-art facilities - including birthing pools for water births, special care nursery, 24 hour well baby nursery and relaxing lounge area – all to help make you and your new baby as safe and comfortable as possible.

Stunning new facilities… the same San values and care we’ve provided for over 110 years. Call (02) 9487 9902 for bookings, or visit for more information. 1 8 5 F o x Va l l e y R o a d W a h R o o n g a n S W


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney


Adoptions Hollywood




Thanks to A-list couples like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Hollywood has put adoption in the spotlight.


ead what 10 high-profile adoptive parents such as Hugh Jackman, Mariska Hargitay and Sandra Bullock have to say about adoption.

The Biggest Loser star Jillian Michaels and her partner Heidi

Rhoades became parents to two children in May: A 2-year-old daughter Lukensia and a newborn son Phoenix. “About three and a half years ago I began dating my partner Heidi,” Jillian shares on her road toward motherhood. “We had a very easy going, comfortable and no-pressure relationship. And a year or so into our relationship, I decided I wanted to adopt.” The celebrity trainer went on to say the adoption process was not easy, and after a year and a half of waiting for a referral from Africa, she switched gears. “I switched all my paperwork over to Haiti and I get a phone call one day,” she says. “Heidi is now trying to get pregnant for five months now. They say, ‘We have a referral for you,’ which means they’ve matched you with a child. I was like, ‘This is unbelievable, this is great!’ I come home and tell Heidi, and in less than 24 hours she says, ‘By the way, I’m pregnant.’” Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron shocked fans with her baby news in March.

It was like he had always been a part of our lives. All I said when I met him was, ‘Oh, there you are. Sandra Bullock orphanage, so that I can go and adopt a baby?’ I always knew I would adopt – always,” she shares. Not only did Sandra Bullock become an Academy Award-

The actress adopted a baby boy

winner in 2010, she also become a mum. The Extremely Loud &

named Jackson.

Incredibly Close actress adopted a New Orleans-born boy, Louis,

Charlize opened up about a letter she wrote at eight years of

in January 2010. Now three years old, Louis has become Sandra’s greatest joy.

age, sharing her plans for a future

“He’s just perfect, I can’t even describe him any other way,” she



“My mother found [it]. It said, ‘Would you please take me to

Sandra opened up about the first time she laid eyes on her gorgeous son.

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



We’ve dealt with prejudice and many challenges.

“The first time I met Louis, it was like the whole outside world got quiet,” she said. “It was like he had always been a part of our lives. All I said when I

The Little Couple

met him was, ‘Oh, there you are.’” The Little Couple’s Dr. Jen Arnold and Bill Klein introduced their three year

The singer went on to adopt a second son, Levi, now three.

old son William on the Katie Couric

“I’ve always had maternal

show in April. And just one month later,

instincts,” she says. “And there are

they had more exciting news to report.

so many different ways you can go about that. My sons didn’t

After years of hoping to become parents and suffering through fertility issues, the couple announced they adopted

have to be from me. They didn’t have to look like me. I just wanted children to love.”

a 19 month old girl from India they have

“They have so much energy and

named Zoey.

they keep me young! I wouldn’t change

“We’re so delighted that Zoey will be joining

a thing. I love getting to see things

our family and that William will have a little

through their eyes.” The Queen of Pop has adopted two

sister coming home very soon,” the reality TV

children from Malawi – David, 8, and

couple shares.

Mercy, 6 – and has since spoken about

Zoey also has a form of dwarfism like her

the experience.

adoptive parents and brother, Will.

“This was an eye opening experience”

“We’ve dealt with prejudice and many challenges,” Jennifer says of her life

and “a real low point in my life,” the Like

experiences. “I feel very lucky and fortunate

a Virgin singer says of adopting David. “I didn’t know that trying to adopt a

that I have the wonderful life I have.”

child was going to land me in another

A year after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Sheryl Crow adopted her now six year

sh– storm,” she adds. “I was accused

old son, Wyatt. The songstress said she always

of kidnapping, child trafficking, using

knew she’d be a mum.

my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in

“There was a shift in my life when I got

the line, bribing government officials,

diagnosed, [with breast cancer] because it demanded I look at

witchcraft, you name it. I could get my head around people

everything and redefine my life,” she says. “I always felt I would

giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage

be a mum. I have strong maternal instincts.”

or publishing my sex book, even kissing Britney Spears at

I was accused by a female Malawian judge that because I was divorced, I was an unfit mother. Madonna

an awards show, but trying to save a child’s life was not something I thought I would be punished for. . . In any case, I got through it. I survived.” The Material Mum was more prepared for her second adoption. “When I adopted Mercy James, I put my armour on,” the popstar says. “I tried to be more prepared. I braced myself. This time I was

accused by a female Malawian judge that because I was divorced, I was an unfit mother. I fought the Supreme Court and I won. It took almost another year and many lawyers. I still got the shit kicked out of me, but it didn’t hurt as much. And looking back, I do not regret one moment of the fight.”

Hugh Jackman is happiest, “being with my family, definitely, without a doubt.” The sexy Wolverine star and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, have two adopted children Oscar, 13, and


I’m working on an international campaign to shine a light on the fact that there are 153 million orphans in the world. Hugh Jackman it’s the right thing to tick.’ And he said to me, that we turn away children every month who are mixed race, because we can’t find families for them.” He’s also spoken of the joys of adoption. “A while back, there was a lot of shame attached to it and parents wouldn’t tell their kids they were adopted. What’s great is that the focus is now shifting to the care of the Ava, 8. The hands-on dad says it was a “no-brainer” for them to

child. We were very fortunate and open – I can’t go into details

adopt children in need.

because of the privacy of the birth parents, but I can tell you it

“When we first went to talk to someone in Los Angeles about adoption, I remember, they said, ‘What do you want?’ I

was amicable. Adoption is a wonderful thing to do.” “I’m working on an international campaign to shine a light

said, ‘Well, healthy would be good.’ And they said, ‘Well, what

on the fact that there are 153 million orphans in the world. If

about the race?’ We’d ticked mixed race. And he said, ‘Now,

that were a country, it would be the ninth-largest in the world,

listen. Please don’t, please don’t just tick that because you think

just ahead of Russia.”

Old fashioned service with expert advice

More than just nappies!

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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



They have programs in their countries [for] each of them we’re starting…They are from their country and they are of their country and they should know that. Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie “They have programs in their countries [for] each of them we’re starting. There’s a TB/AIDS clinic being built for Zahara; there’s a clinic already for Mad[dox]. So each of them will take that responsibility. They are from their country and they are of their country and they should know that, it’s part of their family, we are their family but so is their country.” Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay and her husband Peter Hermann endured a long and emotionally challenging journey to finally reach their beautiful family of five and now, things couldn’t be better for the happy couple. “They’re awesome and perfect,” the star says of sons August, 7, and Andrew, 2, and daughter Amaya, 2. “My heart just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are parents to six

The actress opens up to Ellen DeGeneres about her

children: Maddox, 12, Pax, 9, Zahara, 8, Shiloh, 7, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 5. Their three eldest children were adopted from Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia — although, Angie says she’s lost track of the details. “I couldn’t tell you in my own home who’s adopted and who’s not. “It doesn’t cross my mind,” she adds. “There is something

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really wonderful when you adopt a child from another country because that whole country enters your house. We have different languages in our house, we have different flags up in our house, we have different food and culture and discussions and we go to their countries.” The Oscar-winner wants her children to one day give back to their homelands.

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on to adopt a second

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domestically, in April.

agency had a newborn boy ready to be adopted as well. “It was one of those things that we were not expecting at all and my husband and I looked at each other and have never

“She’s great! She’s a delicious, beautiful, wonderful child,” the Grey’s Anatomy alum gushes of her new daughter.

been more sure about anything.” Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley adopted their daughter Naleigh from Korea when she was 10 months old. “[Adoption has] been a big part of my life and my family,” Katherine says. “My sister is Korean and my parents adopted her back in the 70s and so I just always knew that this is something I wanted to do.” Katherine goes on to talk about her now four-year-old is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-theminute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on Celebrity Baby


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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Building babies brains

Nurturing and predictable relationships help babies get wired for learning and communicating. BY WENDY MULLER AND NGALA EDUCATION TEAM


ur brains are so complex that they take over 20 years to fully mature. Although the brain continues to adapt and change throughout life, this ability

decreases with age. It is most malleable early in life and less Around the same time proprioception develops which

flexible as we age. Nurturing and predictable relationships


help build babies’ brains.

helps a baby become aware of their body – his brain receives

A baby’s brain begins developing long before birth. By

feedback from his joints, muscles and tendons which help

around three weeks after conception a baby’s brain begins to

him to understand where his body parts are in relation to

form, and whilst in the uterus a baby will grow about 8000

each other and also informs his brain when and how his

new brain cells every second.

muscles are contracting or stretching, and when joints are

Far from being a passive passenger while in the uterus,

bending, extending or being compressed. As your baby begins

babies are busy learning about themselves and the world

to move his limbs, each movement of the spinal cord causes

around them through their senses. The senses continue to

his muscles to relax and contract. These movements are

develop after birth and the senses all work together to

essential for the future activities of eating, drinking and breathing.

help develop an understanding of who we are, where we are and what is happening around us. At about 8 weeks into the pregnancy a baby


can feel their lips and cheeks and by around 14 weeks they can feel the rest of their body. A baby is developing his sense of touch moving his limbs and body against the uterine wall, putting hands against his own face and mouth, and bumping into the umbilical

Crying is a means by which a baby lets their parent know when they need love, nurturing or support to achieve a certain state (eg. Need calming, feeding or changing)

cord. Babies rely on their mouth to sense things

trimester. Between 21 - 25 weeks a baby can hear and can startle at sudden noises. It is amazing to realise that a baby in the womb has already a clear picture of his parents’ and siblings’ speech and voice patterns which will bring a feeling of familiarity and comfort when he is born.

they hear Mum’s or Dad’s voices. n

The last sense to develop is the sense of vision

experiences through touch with their mouths and reaching

which develops in the third trimester at around 26 weeks.

and grasping with their hands after birth and into childhood.

A baby sees shadows and its own limbs. These experiences


Senses of taste and smell develop next at around 12 weeks.

prepare a baby to visually explore its parents’ faces and

Taste receptors can even pick up the mother’s dietary habits in

to begin eye to eye contact which is so important for the

the amniotic fluid.

parent-child relationship, also known as attachment and

The vestibular sense (i.e. balance), which provides a baby


with information about the movement and position of its body


Hearing begins to develop in the second

Newborns will often turn their heads when

and in utero they suck their thumbs and swallow amniotic fluid. This is priming their brains to seek learning


social skills. Babies communicate to their parents through verbal and

within the uterus, develops at around 14 weeks. Through the

non verbal ways when they need attention. For example,

vestibular sense babies can tell when their mother is walking,

they may frown, move their arms and legs in a jerky fashion,

standing or lying down.

fuss and cry. Babies actively seek protection, nurturing and

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

wellbeing. Crying is the means by which a baby lets their parent know when they need love, nurturing or support to


understanding, which is vital for their survival, growth and

achieve a certain state (eg. need calming, feeding or changing). Generally speaking, crying begins to increase at approximately 2 weeks after birth and peaks in the second month after birth (4 – 6 weeks) and gradually diminishes by the fourth month after birth. Over time when babies are predictably responded to (i.e. picked up and held affectionately, when they seek to be picked up), they learn to use other ways other than crying to get their parent’s attention such as gestures, facial expressions and noises. Parents can promote their baby’s learning and

At about 8 into the week’s pregnancy a baby can feel their lips and cheeks and by around 14 weeks they can feel the rest of their body.

communication by: Being predictable and nurturing


Promptly responding to their baby’s needs


Observing their baby’s non-verbal gestures or signals (eg. a


baby’s clenched fist and jerky arm movements may mean that their baby is tired) and responding appropriately. This may take time before parents get this right! Talking and singing calmly to their baby


Providing their baby with age appropriate opportunities for


play and supervised floor time

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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring


Stress and childhood

(Dr Stuart Shankar) has now clearly identified that excessive stress can produce lasting and damaging changes to the brain due to the over production of adrenaline.

By Playgroup WA CEO, David Zarb

Excessive stress can have damaging effects on a child’s brain and development, which is why prevention of problems is paramount for children, rather than trying to address issues later, when it’s often too late.

living away from his mother as a child because of her mental illness. Whilst I have long been aware of the statistics on what happens to children in the child protection system after they leave care, this was the first time I had found out that someone I had worked with had become one of those statistics. I started wondering about all the other children and families I had worked with over the years. How many were still alive? How many were homeless? How many were in jail? How many had gone on to struggle with their own children?


ong before I became involved in playgroups and

How many now had mental illness and/or drug issues? It’s not

supporting families with young children, I worked in

pleasant to think about but we have long known that despite

child protection. As more and more evidence about the

our best efforts, the children who we try to protect often end

importance of early childhood came out in the last 20 years I decided to focus on prevention.

up having a life of, there’s no easy way to say it, misery. As far back as the late 1980’s, a landmark report, ‘Our

Yesterday I was reminded why I made the move to focus on

Homeless Children’, clearly laid out just how badly we were

the early years, when I got one of those phone calls that you

failing the children and young people we as a society were

hear about but hope not to get. One of my former social work

trying to protect; reporting these children who had been in

students rang to let me know that a young person we worked

care had higher rates of homelessness, crime and drug issues.

with in the late 1980’s had passed away aged 40. Michael (not

I trust things are working better today but I’m not so sure.

his real name) had been living on the streets for many years

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with a long history of depression. He had been in care and

The one positive about these morbid meanderings was that

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Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

it confirmed to me working with young children and their

saw their cousins and aunties and uncles all the time. These

families was the right thing to do. I am in awe of those people

observations are supported by research into what today’s

who spend their working and personal lives trying to make

children and parents do. Quite simply, everyone is busier for a

life better for children, by working in the child protection

lot of different reasons. There are more cars and more traffic,

system. The case workers and foster carers who do this work

we work longer. We spend less time preparing and eating

have enormous strength of character and compassion, and

meals together and more time watching cooking programs.

we as a community need to value and recognise their efforts

We also have more money and more things to spend it on. I don’t know whether things

much more than we do. I was reminded recently about one of the relatively new planks of the overwhelming case for investment in early childhood, during a workshop with Dr Stuart Shankar, one of the world’s leading researchers. Over the past decade, Stuart has been researching the impact of stress

I also know that there is much more that can be done to support families with young children and that it should be a public and political priority that goes way beyond the cost of child care.

on the developing brain. His team

would have turned out differently for Michael if his early life was less stressful. I’ll never know whether there was anything that could have been done differently to support his mother so that he could have stayed with her rather than suffering the trauma of having to live in the care system. What I do know is, there are

in Toronto, Canada, has now clearly identified that excessive

a lot of little choices we make that can impact our children’s

stress can produce lasting and damaging changes to the brain

lives, even if it’s as simple as making sure we take time to

due to the over production of adrenaline. It has long been

play and enjoy and talk. I also know that there is much more

known that adrenaline is the body’s natural response to danger.

that can be done to support families with young children and

What is new is just how much this plays out in young children.

that it should be a public and political priority that goes way

Adrenaline makes people stronger and faster. It is one of

beyond the cost of child care.

nature’s risk management policies for humans but it’s all about survival. Adrenaline doesn’t make you smarter or kinder or calmer, and in large doses it damages all of those capacities. In short, modern childhood is overdosing on adrenaline. If you think about Australia’s Aboriginal children then Stuart’s work makes a lot of sense. Why is anyone surprised that children and families who continue to endure multiple long term trauma should continue to have difficulties? Issues of separation from family, homelessness, violence, alcohol abuse, chronic illness, poverty and unemployment actually have lasting effects on children that don’t just go away because we make people go to school. We’ve been trying that for decades. We have to address the stressors as well. Let’s all hope that the Closing the Gap strategy does make progress, and in the meantime try to remember that there are reasons why people do the things they do. Indeed Stuart is firmly of the belief that stress is one of the primary factors in the explosion in childhood development and mental health issues in recent times. We have all read about the increase in childhood behaviour issues such as ADHD and increasing rates of anxiety and depression. Is childhood more stressful today? Opinions might differ and certainly there have always been children who have suffered enormous stress, but if you ask people to compare their own childhoods with the children of today most will say how they spent more time outside, they played more, they did less homework, they didn’t have as many after school activities, they spent more time with the neighbours, they

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring


World’s Biggest Playgroup Day Save the date - On Wednesday 26 March, Playgroup NSW is hosting World’s Biggest Playgroup Day at Luna Park as the highlight of the National Playgroup Week.


o you go to a local weekly playgroup? If so, you know the

scoring activity throughout the day. Come along for some goal

mix of fun, craft, music and unstructured play that both

scoring fun.

entertains your child and supports their development. It’s a

For families with younger babies there will be a baby play area

place where you can connect with people and often become

supported by Educational Experience and an indoor chill out

lifelong friends. Worlds Biggest Playgroup Day is the annual

area sponsored by ALDI. Here you can just take a break and relax.

playgroup party, magnified. Bring your friends along - check out the playgroup scene.

Present Playgroup NSW’s membership card to receive discounts on rides and car parking (limited car parking

The day will be packed with exciting special appearances by Peppa Pig, Dorothy the Dinosaur and Captain Feathersword as

available). World’s Biggest Playgroup Day is quickly becoming one of

well as meet and greet with CBeebies presenters Robbie and

the largest free events for children in Sydney, it provides the


opportunity for thousands of people to learn through play and

There will also be special LIVE performances by children’s beloved entertainment groups ZingZillas, Lah-Lah and Dora the Explorer. Soccajoeys will be running a fun filled goal

discover what Playgroup is all about. For more information please contact Playgroup NSW on 1800 171 882 or visit

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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



my little


If your child loves music, dancing or performing, chances are they will delight in taking part in a singing, dancing or drama class.


Resilience – performances will not always be perfect – but

ot only is it fun, but getting your child involved in performing arts can be beneficial in so many ways. Performing arts can encourage:

by learning to improvise in drama or continuing a song even if you have played an incorrect note, ‘the show must go on’ is a

Self-esteem and confidence – The pride that comes

from learning and enjoying something new is wonderful for

valuable lesson, which can be applied to other situations in life.

Social interaction – taking part in an activity out of school

a child’s self-esteem – and the confidence associated with

is valuable by increasing your child’s social circle. For children

performing (whether in front of a small group of family and

who might have trouble easily making friends or feeling

friends or a large audience) is a wonderful attribute.

comfortable in a new social situation, meeting children with a

Self-discipline – whether they are attending hip hop

common interest is a great way to make new friends.

dance classes or learning the violin, taking part in any form of performing arts will require practise and dedication.

“A vast array of performing arts options are available to children that extend well beyond ballet, jazz and piano lessons,” says Rick Heath, executive director of the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA). “Think circus, theatre sports and contemporary dance for starters. Steps Youth Dance Company is a brilliant example nationally, of what performing arts activity can offer young people – it has a structure that is not competitive and allows kids of a broad age range to work together and support each other. It also doesn’t define performers by gender. All of these characteristics are great for developing confidence, social interaction, communication, coordination and creativity. “Simply put, any opportunity that allows children to express themselves freely and safely is great,” he says. “To have that expression acknowledged as a positive thing regardless of the level of expertise, that is, just to acknowledge the value of learning how

“Teachers notice a big difference – with children starting to put their hand up and wanting to engage in conversation.”

to express oneself is also important. I think this is particularly so for boys and young men.” Yes, there are many advantages of the arts…but another great drawcard is that it is so much fun! Think your child would benefit from performing arts but not sure where to start?

Here is a guide to help you choose the best option for your child.


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney



elen Davey, from Helen O’Grady Drama Academy, says drama is a wonderful choice, suitable for children from

three years old, right through high school. “It is all about life skills,” Helen says. “Drama in general helps with confidence, self-esteem and language skills. There is a misconception that drama makes children become precocious, but it is not about making stars – but helping children create their own potential.” Helen says drama classes cover many things – from creative movement and dance drama, to improve work and role playing to demonstrate thoughts, feelings and emotions. “We cover speech training and articulation and how to project your voice – if you need to say something, it is important that you are heard,” she says. Helen says the feedback they receive from parents and


Bring the benefits of drama into your own home. Helen suggests the following activities:

Set up a dress up box. Remember to include some play

teachers shows the impact that drama can have on a child’s

props as tangible things help children create. It doesn’t have

communication, self-esteem and confidence. “Teachers notice

to be expensive – look for some pretend fruit and veg or things

a big difference – with children starting to put their hand up

the child can make.

and wanting to engage in conversation.” And importantly, fun is a key element, says Helen. “A child said to me, ‘I wish drama could be every day and on the weekend’. Drama creates special memories in childhood.”

Play with puppets. Puppets are fantastic, especially for a child who is shy because the puppets can speak for them. Role play with Mum and Dad. Encouraging role playing can start with a simple sentence, ‘Let’s dress up and pretend…’

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring




“When someone n dances they lear – how about their body look to move it, how to after it and the joy of music.”

hen someone dances they learn about their body – how to move it, how to look

after it and the joy of music,” says Christine Grey,

deputy general manager, National Institute of Youth Performing Arts Australia.

Each dancing style is different, so talk to your child about the different

styles and see what appeals to them. Ask around for recommendations of a good dance

As well as the discipline involved when learning how

studio, and ask about their class options. Additionally, the

to dance (or learning an instrument), Christine says there

wonderful thing about dance is its suitability for a wide

are many other benefits. “Each individual contributes to a

range of ages.

performance and I think this gives a sense of belonging and

If you are the parent of a young toddler, some

how to develop resilience if things go wrong. “It also gives

dance studios and recreation centres also hold dance/

incredible enjoyment and an outlet from the daily slog of

movement classes especially for toddlers, which is a great

school. They develop a whole other friendship set outside of

way for them to burn off some energy and get a taste for

school. We spend a lot of time alone on the computer and this

the joys of dance.

is another way to increase connectivity with others.” If your child loves dancing to their favourite songs, chances

For these young children, technique is not so important, but the programs expose children to the joy

are they will love a structured form of dance – and there are so

of music and dance – and are great fun for girls and boys.

many options, including:

Learning to dance does not necessarily mean expensive

• Ballet • Hip hop

costumes and end of year performances, they can be a

• Tap • Jazz

wonderful way to introduce your child to dance in a fun

• Breakdance • Contemporary

way, without the stress of concerts or strict routines.

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here are so many ways to get your child interested in

popular guitar or the drums for kids who want to rock

music, including:

it out! Remember, if your child is excited about the


If your child wants to learn an instrument there are many options – from the classical piano or violin to the

instrument they are learning it will mean they will happier

Organised musical activities for children There are numerous music and movement classes aimed at toddlers and young children around

to practise. Talk to your child about their options. They might want to follow in the footsteps of a favourite uncle who plays the guitar,

“Learning music for example. in a group from an ea Look into the various possibilities. rly age not only develops ex There are also musical activities Go to a reputable music store cellent musical skills, but also nu suitable for babies and free ‘rhyme and ask for advice (this also rtures positive time’ sessions are also held at gives an opportunity to see the social interactions in a fun and many community libraries, which instruments ‘in the flesh’. motivating enviro nment. Music introduce babies to rhymes, songs Your child’s school might stimulates their senses, enhances and stories. teach certain instruments and encourages thei r creativity and (ask about their music provides them w ith lif el on g Learning an instrument program). Otherwise, ask for skills – whether they end up as a casual Do you have a little Mozart on recommendations of a good music listener or your hands? Like other forms music teacher or look into music a professional of performing arts, learning an schools, such as Yamaha Music performer.” instrument can teach perseverance, build Education, which has numerous the country, which will expose your child to music, movement and song.

self-esteem and is very rewarding.



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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



MUSIC TIP “A great way to boost enthusiasm is to

Yamaha Music’s Senior Education Instructor, John Corlett, says, “Learning music in a group from an early age not only develops excellent musical skills, but also nurtures positive

have a particular song that you do your chores to. I sing everything around the house including asking my kids what they want for breakfast to whistling while we work. I also encourage my kids to compose songs with me…I start with a tune/melody and lyrics and they now compose impromptu with me! It may be something we are doing in that moment or something I want to draw their attention to and bring front of mind. For example, my son has recently started Kindy and is reluctant and shy, so on the way to Kindy we will sing our feelings and emotions about the day and often this releases some anxieties.” (Lisa, Rock n Toddle).

social interactions in a fun and motivating environment. Music stimulates their senses, enhances and encourages their creativity and provides them with lifelong skills – whether they end up as a casual music listener or a professional performer.”

Still confused about what to try? Remember to talk to your child about their interests (just because you love dance does not mean your child will). Ask a performing arts centre if it is

Singing “It is fantastic to be able to sing because you carry that instrument with you wherever you go and everyone’s voice

possible to do a trial or taster class to see if it is what you and your child are looking for. Also remember that your child doesn’t have to be ‘on-stage’

is different,” says Christine Grey, deputy general manager,

themselves to be exposed to the wonders of performing arts!

National Institute of Youth Performing Arts Australia.

Take your child to:

If your child wants to sing, you have two options: - Choirs – an organised group of singers. Joining a choir

A concert – Do you remember your first concert? Remember, children are never too young to be exposed to the

will enable your child to sing and also have the opportunity to

joys of music – from the The Wiggles for the littlest member of

make new friends.

your family to the latest boy band for your teenager.

- Solo – Learning to sing. Like learning an instrument,

A puppet show – A puppet show is a wonderful way for

requires patience, practise and dedication, which are wonderful

your child to experience the fun and colour of performing arts

skills. If your child wants singing lessons, ask around for

in an interactive and creative way. Or why not make your own

recommendations of a good singing coach.

puppets and put on your own puppet show?

Remember to bring music into the house, points out Lisa

A dance performance – Whether a special trip to the

from Rock n Toddle. “Music is something that can be enjoyed at

theatre to see the ballet, or a friend’s dance concert, going

any time of day to enhance an experience,” Lisa says. “From an

to see a dance performance live is a wonderful, colourful

opportunity to expend energy with an intensive dance session,


to a quiet period of rest in the mid-afternoon while reading books, music can embellish any childhood activity.”

There will always be opportunities to see performing arts in your local community – whether a local choir is singing at the shops, the local school is preparing for their drama production

Lisa suggests the following: • Have a music box filled with instruments to bring out when


or a large show is coming to town. These are all great options to introduce your child into the

friends come over and have band time/music time.

wonderful world of performing arts. However, it is important

• Have the radio on while conducting menial tasks like

to remember that it should always be fun. “Performing isn’t for

cleaning your room.

everybody,” Rick adds. “Some gentle encouragement might be

• Making musical instruments is a nice craft activity.

required but if they don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.”

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

Free trial lessons available with Yamaha

The Sydney Youth Orchestras (SYO) Toddlers Proms will educate, engage and inspire young children, as they are introduced to orchestral music and experience live performance in an interactive environment. Designed for fun and participation, SYO Toddlers Proms are aimed at youngsters up to six years old. The next opportunity to experience this fun orchestral performance is at Paddington Town Hall on March 16th. Chief Conductor and Head of Fun, Brian Buggy leads the SYO Philharmonic in this energetic performance filled with nursery rhymes and songs your child will know and love. Visit for more details or call 9251 2422.


Interactive fun with Toddlers Proms

Yamaha Music Education offers a unique and exciting learning opportunity where students are encouraged to learn in a fun, social and interactive environment, guided by experienced Yamaha Music teachers. The Yamaha keyboard course is perfect for children or those wishing to pick up where they left off many years ago. The courses explore the foundations of keyboard playing through a variety of musical styles. Classes are also offered in piano, guitar and drums, with courses designed for children, adults and seniors of all capabilities. Free trial lessons are now available at Morley and Canning Vale schools. For more information visit www. or call 1300 139 506.

Yamaha Music Education

Book Your Free

Trial Lesson Now At or 1300 139 506 2 PIANO 2 KEYBOARD 2 GUITAR 2 DRUMS ay SundaRCH M 16 2014 day SunM ay 25 14 0 2


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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Excellence at Academy of Performing Arts

Cute Kids are industry leaders

The dream begins here. The Academy of Performing Arts Macarthur is a centre of enjoyment and excellence where students gain a love and appreciation of the performing arts. At their new, fully-equipped studios located in the Macarthur region, the Academy uses innovative new programs provided by qualified, caring teachers and offers classes in Dance, Singing and Theatre for preschoolers to professional level, six days per week. With the philosophy – ‘students learn best when they enjoy what they do’ – a unique and friendly atmosphere emanates at The Academy of Performing Arts. Call The Academy today to discuss your little star’s Performing Arts classes: 02 4647 0255 or

For more than 30 years talented Cute Kids have been actors in Australian TV series, films and theatre, models in TV and photographic campaigns for major retailers, fast food companies, telecommunications and more. Cute Kids do hundreds of jobs every year. Cute Kids was founded in 1980 and Gordon Charles, took over in 1987. His management skill and industry reputation are from 10 years as Australia’s premier fashion show producer in the 1980’s and 18 years’ modelling, acting and dancing experience. Gordon’s wife, Sandy, has been a model with Platform models for 20 years. She manages the interviews and photo shoots. This husband and wife team is committed to selecting and managing kids with real talent and supportive parents and why Cute Kids is such a highly respected agency in Sydney.

The dream begins here...

Modelling and Acting Representing girls + boys 3 months to 14 years Sydney’s top kids agency Since 1980

Representing 15 – 75yo models and talent • Dance, Singing and Theatre classes • Pre-schoolers to professional level • Fully equipped studios • Classes 6 days per week THE ACADEMY OF


Studio: Unit 25/24 Anzac Ave Smeaton Grange 2567 (Anzac Avenue Business Estate - the same complex as EuroCafe)

Phone: 02 4647 0255 Email: 66

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney or call us on 9389 8655

Visit our websites



n u f s t r o p S for kids BY LISA FERNANDEZ

Sport is one of the main ways to help our children stay fit and healthy. Here’s a guide to help you choose the sport that best suits your child.


With our beautiful beaches, parks and open spaces

introducing children to Australian Football, it also teaches

participating in sport is part of the Australian way

children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and

of life. So it will come as no surprise that swimming and

being physically active.

port is deeply entrenched in the Australian culture.

This highly successful program is not just about

soccer have topped the list of most popular sports played by Australian children between the ages of 5-14. Girls took more to the water with almost one in five

At NAB AFL Auskick children learn: • Fundamental motor skills for future physical activity

participating in some kind of swimming activity and the

and sports participation

round ball game remained popular with the boys, almost a

• About fitness conditioning, including how to train

quarter of them are out regularly kicking a soccer ball.

and practice

The recent (2012) survey by the Australian Bureau of

• Basic principles and importance of health and nutrition

Statistics gives an interesting insight into the extra-curricular

• Important social skills, including cooperation and

activities Aussie parents are choosing for their kids.

respect for others

60 percent of children participated in at least one organised sport outside of school hours

For more information on where to participate in NAB AFL AusKick vist

and of those, 66 percent were boys compared with 54 percent of girls. The most active age group are children between 9 and 11 years old. On average, Aussie kids spend five hours a fortnight playing and training in organised sport outside of school hours.

AFL Being one of the most supported and watched sports in Australia it’s no surprise kids want to play AFL. The NAB AFL Auskick program provides boys and girls with a fun and safe football experience that serves as an introduction to a lifetime of involvement in the game.



NETBALL Netball is a team sport where kids can learn balleye coordination and increase fitness and stamina. Netball Australia runs programs for girls and boys for ages 5 and up. There is also a modified game called Netta’s for 8-10 year olds, in which children rotate positions each quarter. Netball is a completely noncontact sport.

TRAMPOLINE Trampolining offers a fun way for children to move their bodies. Bouncing on a trampoline gives kids the opportunity to exercise for a few minutes every day. All a child basically needs to do for cardiovascular exercise is to jump up and down on the trampoline mat. Younger children can do small bounces in the center of the mat Jumping on an exercise trampoline provides low-impact aerobic exercise by increasing blood flow throughout the body. The jumping action also strengthens and tones the calf and thigh muscles. Trampolines can be used to improve a child’s physical fitness, as well as help develop coordination and balance. For trampolining fun in a safe, supervised environment try taking the kids to Flipout trampoline arena. Flipout has 600 square metres of interconnected trampolines, and a range of activities offering serious fun for active kids. There are 7 locations in the Sydney metropolitan area. Website

LACROSSE Here’s a fun fact. Lacrosse is the most ancient sport still played today by humans. It’s the fastest sport on land and it’s also the fastest growing sport in the USA & Canada. Lacrosse can be played by kids aged 6 and up. 6 year olds play a modified form of Lacrosse called Modcrosse. It’s completely non-contact and the rules are very simple. Lacrosse is growing in popularity in

Lacrosse is the most ancient sport still played today by humans.

Australia and is great alternative to AFL because for boys up to the age of 13 it is a noncontact sport. For girls lacrosse is entirely non-contact. Lacrosse is a fun and fast sport that involves hand-eye coordination and lots of running. It’s a great way for kids to get fit and learn new skills in a fun environment. Lacrosse Australia is the Governing body for the sport. They can be contacted at their website www.


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

ve posture and It has been proven that regular use of a trampoline can help impro ing patterns general muscle health. Bouncing also helps promote better sleep bedtime. which could make a big difference to kids who struggle to sleep at


And the best part? Families are encouraged to do a sport

For children wanting to play

together which is why their motto is “Family, Fun and Fitness”.

tennis, lessons Tiny Tots Tennis is the perfect place to start. Lessons are based on Tennis Australia’s



Little Athletics have 60 metro centres in Sydney. For Little Athletics centre and club locations go to:

modified tennis program, MLC Tennis Hot Shots. Tiny Tots Tennis uses mini nets, low compression balls, hoops, footwork ladders and cones to promote coordination and fast movement. As well as increasing your child’s ability to control the ball and racquet, the modified equipment means children as young as three can begin to develop their skills in a fun and safe environment. Coaching is available at over 40 venues and group lessons are run in eight-week local terms, four times a year with regular holiday clinics for children during the school holidays For more information visit:

DID YOU KNOW BALL HANDLING ACTIVITIES PROMOTE BRAIN CONNECTIONS? Some ways that we move actually improves learning. When children use both sides of their brain, functioning is enhanced.

SOCCER Little Kickers is the sport for your kids if they can’t stop kicking a ball around your living room. At Little Kickers the focus is very much on fun with professionally run training classes for boys and girls aged from 18 months up to 7 years. The philosophy behind Little Kickers is that children develop their skills best when they are playing with other kids of a similar age and ability. So children are separated into four distinct age groups enabling them to maximize their involvement and development potential. To find a Little Kickers near you visit:

LITTLE ATHLETICS NSW Little Athletics is a uniquely Australian activity for children from 5 to 16 years. It is based upon the sport of track and field and kids can participate in a wide range of events from running, jumping, throwing and walking modified to suit the age and ability of the child. The sport is unique because winning is not what they are all about. The aim of Little Athletics is to have fun and make friends with an emphasis on personal improvement and participation. The sport recognises that all children are different with many varied athletic abilities and they can cater for everyone.

DID YOU KNOW Soccer can be a great workout and lots of fun. The health benefits include: • Increased aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health • Builds strength, flexibility and endur ance • Increases muscle and bone streng th • Improved health due to shifts betwe en walking, running and sprinting

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?*** Kids aged 5 to 12 years should participate in at least 60 minutes a day of moderate and vigorous activities. It’s even better to be active for up to a couple of hours every day. Kids aged 12 to 18 years should participate in at least 60 minutes a day of moderate and vigorous activities. Older kids should also try to include 20 minutes or more of vigorous activity three or four times a week.

RUGBY UNION Rugby Union is an enjoyable sport for children of all ages and playing levels. Junior Rugby is an equal opportunity sport that encourages a sense of belonging through passion, respect and courage. Junior Rugby caters to different ages with under 6’s to under 10’s participating in round-robin competitions as well as carnivals throughout the year. The under 12 age group participates in a round-robin competition but also takes part in a final series at the culmination of the season. Competitive junior teams range from under sevens to under eighteens, which means children as young as six can play competitive rugby. The sport is high contact though, which should be considered before registering your child. High contact sports have been credited with helping children to control anger and aggression within the rules of the game. They can also teach discipline, tolerance and determination.

R SPORT IS IMPORTANT FO ... KIDS BECAUSE IT CAN… ✓ improve physical fitness skills ✓ improve confidence through learning

and success ulses - ✓ help children to learn to control their imp as sport as well this is necessary for success in social relationships

✓ help build friendships ✓ start lifetime interests play ✓ help children learn about rules and fair losing ✓ help children to cope with winning and ✓ help children do better at school work

Most local clubs start signing up new players in February for the winter season. Check out where your local club is here:

SURF LIFE SAVING Living in NSW with beaches on our doorstep I’ts important kids are confident in the water. Surf Life Saving NSW provides a great introduction to the beach, waves and surf

DID YOU KNOW Physically active children are more attentive, have a more efficient memory, enhanced creativity, better learning and problem solving and attitude capabilities

lifesavers via the popular Surf Babies, Surf Kids and Surf’s Up programs. These fun, short run programs offer both children

and knowledge. Every surf lifesaving club around Australia

and parents a great foundation to learn about the beach and

offers a nippers program, all with various styles and sizes.

to develop confidence in the water. Nippers is a junior program that introduces children aged 5 to 13 to surf lifesaving. It is a fun outdoors activity that grows a child’s confidence and teaches valuable life skills


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

Nippers is a great way for children to make friends, be active and enjoy the beach in a safe environment. For more information visit: or


SWIMMING’ Swimming is an excellent activity that is suitable for all ages and has many health benefits. Children of any body type can participate and learn to swim, and the benefits are varied and plentiful. The main benefit of swimming is that it is a whole body workout. This promotes fitness, and endurance as all the muscles are mobilized in a typical workout. It is also a low-impact sport, as the body is supported by the water. This can aid in weight- loss, can help to relieve body pain and joint inflammation and help with the symptoms of


childhood asthma.

Many sporting organisations have recognised the fact that

Swimming is great as a recreational hobby, a regular after

small children find playing ‘adult’ sports difficult due to a

school activity or even as a competitive sport. Lessons run

lack of required skills. So they created a set of “modified”

year round and are often included into the Dept of Education

rules aimed at making the game more accessible for

and Training’s school swimming and water safety program.

children. No sport has achieved this better than Tee-Ball - a

More information about swimming can be found at Swimming New South Wales website

modified version of baseball. The major modifications include no pitching, hitting the ball off a “tee” of adjustable height, a time limit of one hour and playing on a diamond which is only two-thirds of the

DID YOU KNOW Moderate activity = walking fast, bike riding, skateboarding, dancing, playing on park equipment Vigorous activity = organised sports, running/chasing friends, swimming laps, star jumps or skipping

senior size. Tee-Ball caters for boys and girls from 5 to 12 years of age. The game provides a lot of fun, opportunity for rapid improvement in ball skills, hand-eye coordination and general confidence, as well as one hour of fast moving exciting involvement during the game itself. Parent and family participation as well as business sponsorship have reached unprecedented heights for children’s sport. More information about Tee-Ball near your area can be found at:

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



CALISTHENICS Calisthenics is the combination of Gymnastics, Ballet, Folk Dance, Jazz Ballet, Apparatus (Clubs and Rods), Figure Marching, Mime and Singing. Calisthenics aims to improve children’s health and deportment as well as widening their musical knowledge. Calisthenics is a fun and healthy way to keep fit for children of all ages. It is a uniquely Australian sport which requires discipline of mind and body, team work, a competitive spirit and a sense of responsibility. Calisthenics NSW currently have 4 clubs located both in the metropolitan Sydney area. To find you closest club visit

MARTIAL ARTS Martial Arts are professionally described as “any type of systemised training for combat.” The most popular martial arts amongst children are of the striking or standing variety, such as Karate and Tae Kwon Do. There is no definitive age for a child to begin martial arts training, but most start between five and ten years of age. The sports work under the concepts of discipline and respect. Children are taught a set of rules and principles that are to be followed. Martial Arts allow your child to progress at their own pace and are one of the few sports where competition is not necessary. A Martial Arts discipline can be a great activity for kids lacking inself-confidence, concentration or fitness. In addition, your child will learn invaluable personal safety and awareness techniques, discipline, focus and concentration that martial arts teaches them. Many centers offer free trials to see if your child is interested.


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

Great fun at Little Kickers and Little Rugby Little Kickers and Little Rugby are fun, imagination-based sports programs for preschool children. The Little Kickers program is for children aged 18 months – 7 years. It uses soccer as a fun forum to instill confidence, co-ordination, control and a sense of camaraderie. Similarly, Little Rugby is the non-contact tag rugby/ footy program for children aged 2 – 7 years, which aims to develop a variety of skills from both codes including gross motor skills, listening, team work and sense of well-being. Both programs are delivered by fully qualified coaches in a safe, friendly and pressure-free environment. For more information visit or

GymbaROO is a parent/child education program which offers age-appropriate sessions for babies as young as six weeks up to children aged five, enabling parents to be actively involved in their child’s development. Children learn more in their first few years that at any other time of their lives. Research has shown that appropriate learning experiences and stimulating activities in these early years can have a positive impact on a child’s entire life. What more, as parents could we possibly ask for? Above all, GymbaROO is lots of fun. Both children and parents love it. It is very rewarding being actively involved with your child’s development. You will watch them brighten with excitement and participate with enthusiasm, and help them experience the pure joy of learning. GymbaROO was awarded The Australian Small Business award in December for excellence in Customer Service. For more information visit


Fun and learning at GymbaROO

GymbaROO Research shows brain development in early years lays foundation for future learning Modern life bypasses many natural developmental activities associated with optimizing the brain’s capability. GymbaROO is a FUN way to help you nurture the ‘natural’ stages to maximize future learning potential.

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sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Ready Steady Go! Ready Steady Go Kids is a physio-designed, multisport program specifically designed for children aged 2.5 – 6 years. It is run at over 150 locations nationally. The program covers the fundamentals of 10 different sports while developing age appropriate gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye/foot-eye and/or balance activity. Classes run for 45 minutes and there are 5 sports covered each term

(taught in 2 week blocks). Children also learn about the concept of sportsmanship by

taking turns, playing by the rules and cooperating with their team mates as well as the importance of warm up, proper hydration and cool down. The sports included in the Ready Steady Go Kids program are: Soccer, Tennis, Hockey, AFL, Cricket, Athletics, Basketball, Rugby, Golf and T-ball. Ready Steady Sports is taught by qualified instructors with early childhood and coaching experience which encourage participants to take turns, play by the rules, cooperate with peers and introduce the concept of “sportsmanship”. The program also incorporates skills such as concentration, listening and following directions, boosting readiness for school. Introducing extra-curricular sports to pre-schoolers helps to promote a “lifelong love for sports and exercise’. At this age we can shape attitudes that last a lifetime. Participants will leave the program with a basic understanding of a variety of sports to build upon when school begins. A FREE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE TO ALL NEW ENROLLMENTS. Call the team at Ready Steady Go Kids on 1300-766-892 or visit for locations and times in your area.

Ignite your preschooler’s passion for sport!

5 sports covered per term:

We are Australia’s largest multi-sport & exercise program for 2.5–6 year olds!

Soccer Basketball Hockey AFL Cricket


Tennis Athletics Rugby Golf T-ball

Confidence Coordination Cooperation Social skills Encourages active lifestyle Independence Sportsmanship

Call the team now to book a FREE trial on 1300 766 892.

Classes Monday – Sunday

Ask about our birthday parties!

Our Sydney locations: Crows Nest East Lindfield Erina Fairy Meadow Five Dock

Franchise opportunities available.


Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

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Marrickville Menai Miranda Mount Kuring-gai North Ryde

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Stanhope Gardens Summer Hill Terrigal Thornleigh Willoughby

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Soccajoeys is Australia’s leading pre-school and junior soccer program. It is run in a fun and enjoyable indoor recreational setting for children to learn and play soccer. The experience is for boys and girls aged 3 to 8 years, where activities include fun games, instructional scrimmages and skill development. The program is run over four terms for a period of eight weeks. The goal of Soccajoeys is to give participants a well-rounded start to their physical, social and educational development. Kick off your child’s soccer career with Soccajoeys!


Soccajoeys great for kids!

For more information email or call 1300 781 735.

Follow us on

A fun and enjoyable soccer program for boys and girls aged 3-5 years. Nurturing fun environment Non competitive, non elite program Improve self confidence & self esteem Social interaction with other children Develop gross motor skills All classes held indoors Classes run for 1 hour Trained & accredited coaches REGISTER


Nurturing and Developing Our Little Stars of Tomorrow

1300 781 735 sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



C h i l d r e n s P a r t i e s


With birthday parties so frequent nowadays, it’s worth looking into healthy food options, without eliminating ‘party’ food.


hildren’s birthdays should be fun and provide happy memories forever. My son has just turned four and he

table is laden with lollies, Twisties, crisps and a fruit platter,

has been excited for months about his party. When I

then I can probably guess what the children (including my

told him it was only two sleeps to go he could hardly contain

children) will eat a lot of. So when people say to me ‘it is

himself! It was while planning his party

just party food’ I agree – to a point.

that it occurred to me that children’s

Children’s parties are now so frequent,

parties are quite a big business these

that it isn’t just sometimes. It is often.

days. I may be showing my age by saying


Children will eat the food that is available. So if the party

I think children’s parties, healthy

this, but back in my day children’s

food and ‘party’ food can go hand in

parties were all about running around,

hand. I really don’t think restricting

pass-the-parcel and an ice cream cake.

‘party’ food is a sustainable idea, and

As a child, I have very fond memories of

as my children grow older I am aware

the ice cream cake that Mum would buy

of peer pressure. When my children

each year for our birthday dessert – in

are at friends’ parties they will often

fact I can almost taste it! And I think

ask me if they can have crisps/lollies/

this is an important point – children

biscuits/cakes. My response is to ask

remember these special occasions for a

them if they feel like eating the food.

long time. And I am all for associating

I will often ask ‘is your tummy hungry

happy birthdays with healthy food!

for that food?’ and then let them decide,

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney


e Chocolate Weetbix Slic 10 Weetbix l 1/4 cup oats


flaxseed 3 tablespoons ground l 150g butter, melted


l l

30g cocoa 100g brown sugar

40g coconut ten l 2 eggs, lightly bea


Chocolate icing enough 2 tablespoons cocoa & Mix 1 cup icing sugar, an icing consistency. boiling water to make . C. Line square slice tray 1. Preheat oven to 180 s in food processor. 2. Crush Weetbix & oat bowl. together. Set aside in a Add flaxseed & mix Weetbix mix. Mix well. to all other ingredients and ter but lted me dd 3. A s or until firm. Bake for 15-20 minute 4. Press into lined tin. sprinkles. with chocolate icing and 5. Allow to cool and ice

the end. Serve yoghurt in small cups with chopped fruit on top. Quarter oranges and freeze them, add a toothpick flag – voila you have a boat! Use shaped cutters to cut bread shapes or cheese shapes.


Keep the cake serve sizes small. Children have small tummies and we don’t want them filling up on cake.

4 which is much more sustainable than not allowing them to eat certain foods. Moderation is my approach at my children’s parties. We still give out party bags and there is still a birthday cake, but the majority of food

Have plenty of activity at the party - egg and spoon races, three-legged races, musical chairs, bouncy castles

all get the children active.


Drinks. I offer plenty of water and sometimes will make a smoothie as another option. Avoid soft

offered is healthy and attractive to encourage

drinks, juice or cordial. It doesn’t offer

the children to eat if they are hungry.

anything useful except excess sugar

Remember: children eat with their eyes first,

that can easily cause upset tummies.

so aim to make the food bright and attractive. This approach fits with the 90/10 rule of thumb. 90 per cent of the time we should aim for healthy food and 10 per cent of the time is for ‘sometimes’ or party food. My philosophy for food at children’s parties is what I use every day. I aim to extend their palate rather than limit it.

Here are my top five tips to make a party that bit healthier, with food that will appeal to children and adults:


Keep it simple. I usually have food out from the beginning of the party and I make sure there are many healthy choices. So there will

always be a big plate of fruit, some popcorn, sushi, cheese & crackers, vegetable sticks and dip and maybe

Party food ideas that children love: Sweet Party Food Savoury Party Food ✓ Fruit platter or fruit kebabs ✓ Sushi ✓ Fruit smoothie ✓ Mini pizzas (grated carrot & zucchini ✓ Fairy bread on wholegrain bread work brilliantly) ✓ Muesli bars ✓ Finger sandwiches on wholegrain bread. Cheese & vegemite, peanut ✓ Weetbix slice butter & grated carrot, and cucumber & crea ✓ Dried fruit m cheese are some filling options. ✓ Popcorn ✓ Cheese & crackers ✓ Chocolate Weetbix Slice ✓ Vegetable sticks & dip ✓ Mini quiches ✓ Sweet potato & potato wedges

some meatballs or mini pizzas or toasted sandwiches. Plenty of choice and nothing too high in sugar or salt.


Kate Bullen is an Accredited Practising

Be inventive. Make a jenga castle

Dietitian and Mum to a seven year old, four

out of carrots or celery. Make fruit

year old and 18 month old. For more advice

kebabs with marshmallows on

from Kate visit

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



City of churches BY COLLEEN WILLIS

Autumn is a wonderful time to go to Adelaide because you’re likely to get the warm weather without the blazing heat. There’s usually plenty of sunshine with the temperature staying in the mid to low 20’s.


delaide, well known as the “City of Churches”, has become so much more than that. After all, it has been voted by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10

A ride on the tram to visit the seaside suburb of Glenelg is a fun way to travel. There are loads of activities for the kids, the

cities to visit in 2014. The city is situated on the River Torrens

main one being the Beachouse. It has a 120 year old carousel,

which starts in the Adelaide Hills and empties into the Gulf

dodgem cars and arcade games, to name a few.

of St Vincent.

For more information visit

Families are well and truly catered for in our southern state as there’s lots for everyone to do. Highlights include: • Popeye boat rides on the River Torrens • The South Australian Maritime Museum • The Botanic Gardens • The River Torrens Linear Park Trail – you can walk it, ride it and have a picnic on the way! For more information visit

Adelaide Zoo

A trip to the Adelaide Zoo is quite exciting because you can get to see firsthand Australia’s only giant pandas, Wang Wang and Funi. They are terribly cute and gorgeous. For more information visit



Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney

TRAVEL Tasting Australia

Every two years the Barossa hosts its Tasting Australia event. This year it is on from the 27th April to the 4th May. If you’re a real Foodie then this is worth visiting. For more information visit Accommodation There are plenty of choices to pick from, ranging from hotel rooms, apartments, budget to five star.

The National Railway Museum

A central location is recommended, however, I would suggest

For all the little budding train drivers out there thanks to

staying away from parts of Hindley St as it does cross into the

Thomas, a trip to the National Railway Museum Port Adelaide is

nightclub area. I’ve stayed at the Mantra Hindmarsh Square

a must. You can take a ride on the trains and there are fun and

apartments and found them to be clean, quiet and central.

interactive displays inside.

For more information visit

For more information visit

The Adelaide Hills

Getting there

The Adelaide Hills are approximately 30 minutes from the city

The quickest way is by air with flights leaving every day.

and are packed with family fun, ranging from cuddling koalas

If you choose to drive, the distance is just over 1400 km’s so

to climbing The Big Rocking Horse, which is 18 metres high.

plan appropriately. For more information visit

Highlights include: • Cleland Wildlife Park |

• Hahndorf Farm Barn |

• Melba’s Chocolate Factory and Heritage Village (educational and delicious!) • Lobethal’s Fairyland Village • The Big Rocking Horse and Toy Factory • Beerenberg Strawberry Farm For more information visit If you have the time, a trip to the Barossa Valley is highly recommended as it is not just for the adults! From gourmet food, to an actual tree home, there is more than just good wine there. Highlights include: • The Whispering Wall

• Barossa Farmer’s Market

• Kapunda Mine Trail

• Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop

• The Herbig Family Tree For more information visit

Bali Baby Hire provides a wide range of baby equipment and related services to assist with all your needs for traveling to Bali with babies and young children. Stocking only high quality brand named products that are clean, safe and comfortable. Bali Baby Hire will make life as easy for you on your holiday in Bali just as it would be in your home.

10% discount on hire items ✔ car seats for Offspring ✔ strollers readers ✔ prams ✔ high chairs ✔ bathtubs ✔ safety bed rails ✔ safety gates ✔ play pens ✔ baby monitors ✔ fun toys and much more Baby sitting, VIP fast track airport service, transfers and tours with car seats fitted also available.

Phone: +628593511030 email: sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring



Cool Club Med The resorts (or villages, as they like to be called) are located all over the world, ranging from the ski slopes in Europe, to the cultural richness of Mexico, so there really is something for everyone.


lub Med is one of the original “All Inclusive” holiday specialists on the market, which means they include as much as they can in their price.

Out of all the 80 resorts that Club Med has around the world,

• Mini Club Med - 4 to 10 years

a whopping 57 of them are family friendly - that’s a lot of

• Junior Club Med - 10 to 17 years

holidays to choose from!

(some clubs offer 11-13 and 14-17 years

Major Inclusions:

Some activities on offer (for everyone, not just the kids!)

• Accommodation

• Tennis

• Archery

• All meals (great for budgeting)

• Swimming

• Trapeze

• Sporting activities

• Arts and crafts

• Skiing

• Shows

• Snowboarding

• Sailing

• Evening entertainment

• Cooking

• Snorkelling

The beauty of this type of holiday is that children are catered for in just about every age group. Club Med have dedicated “Kids Clubs”, ranging from the bubs to the teenagers. If the adults

• Bush Walking If parents want to stay out for the evening, babysitting is also offered for an additional fee.

want to have some “grown up” time and take advantage of the Kids Clubs, they may find that their children want to stay all day! Some villages offer the following care for children:


Cherating Beach Resort, Malaysia One of the villages close to home is the Cherating Beach Resort

• Baby Club Med - 4 to 23 months

in Malaysia. It has been voted into the top 10 family resorts in

• Petit Club Med - 2 to 3 years

Asia by Trip Advisor for 2013.

Offspring | autumn 2014 | sydney


Top tip: If you have young children, ask for a ‘Club Med Baby Welcome Service.’ It includes: • Cot

• Change mat

• Bottle Warmer

• Baby bath

• High chair if available

For more information visit

Highlights include: • Baby gym

• Personal Welcome

• Circus school

Getting there

• Petit Chef Program – a fantastic experience! Children learn to

Club Med can even arrange your flights and transfers to your

cook local dishes and parents come and taste them...yum!

village of choice if you so desire. Alternatively, you can arrange

• Clean Art Planet – children use objects from the sea to create,

this yourself through your travel agent or online.

tell stories, photograph…the list is endless • Hiking

• Dance

When travelling with children I recommend a direct flight where possible. Both Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia fly directly from Sydney.

Additional highlights:

For more information visit

• Baby corner in the main restaurant

• Spare prams (limited supply)

** Please be aware that not all the villages offer all the activities**

• Playground

sydney | autumn 2014 | Offspring




0404 938 297


Sydney depot Kellyville

Also Available: • Balloons • Food Warmers • Tables & Chairs


Hornsby Parramatta Penrith Roselands A Sydney based, mobile party service custom designed for the interest and age of your child. We provide all the equipment and art supplies. We set up, entertain and clean up once the party has come to an end. FUN, CREATIVE, ART PARTIES ART EXPERIENCES THAT INSPIRE Event Co-Ordinator Zoe |Email


The Friendly Animal Farm that comes to you with minimum fuss & maximum fun!

Farmyard Fun for: • Playgroups • Schools • Pre-schools • Fetes • Kindergartens • Birthday Parties • Pony Rides • Special Events

Advertising your party business in magazine opens up loads of possibilities For more information and to book contact Kathleen on 02 9802 0067


Cuddle, pat, brush and play with our baby animals

Phone 4576 1407 •

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Offspring Sydney Autumn 2014 issue  

Australia’s favourite family lifestyle magazine.

Offspring Sydney Autumn 2014 issue  

Australia’s favourite family lifestyle magazine.