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VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY - PART TIME ADMINISTRATION POSITION

Rainbow Families is a community managed organisation, providing a network of support to children and families within the NSW LGBTIQ community. We provide a a range of social and educational support for parents and families, playgroups and cultural events, resources for families, and advocy. Would you like to join us?

We are looking for a motivated and committed volunteer who has office/administration skills, or is willing to develop them, and most importantly someone who is passionately committed to helping our community.

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Working 3 - 5 hours a week in our Surry Hills office (5 minutes walk from Central) you can choose to be involved in a range of interesting work:

* responding to community enquiries
* events management - coordinating things like parent seminars
* updating web content, compiling newsletter and mail outs to members
* maintaining records and contacts
* writing content for blog
* assisting in grants applications
* liaising with community partners
* membership support
* maintaining database and admin systems

You will be working alongside a part time Community Worker and volunteer accounts manager.

This would suit a person who is wanting to return to work or develop skills, work experience to facilitate long term work, or someone who is skilled and has the time to volunteer.

If you would like to discuss further email us with contact details and we can have a chat, or send us a brief email letting us know why you are interested and your skills.

Applications close: Monday 16 April

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Volunteer Profile - Alison Gould

Alison and her wife Liz proudly guide three little people through the world. Having started out as "husband" and wife before Alison transitioned in 2015, their journey as a family hasn't been straightforward but their determination to stay together against the odds has given them strength they now take to other endeavours.

After moving to Razorback on the outskirts of Sydney to build a strawbale family home, Liz and Alison joined the nearby Currans Hill Rainbow Playgroup shortly after Alison came out. She still helps organise this, with their youngest joining her on guitar to entertain the children at music time.

As their two eldest children outgrew the playgroup, they also attended the Southern Highlands and Illawarra Rainbow Families groups before spotting a gap for a local catch up in the vast and growing Macarthur region. Alison re-launched the dormant Macarthur Rainbow Families group which she now coordinates with the assistance of other parents met through the playgroup.

Alison currently assists the Rainbow Families committee with IT matters, as well as contributing to the All Families resource for trans and gender diverse parents - providing insight on what her family has found lacking, and what would have assisted their individual journeys to stay together as a newly rainbow-ed family. The large number of contributors to the recent successful crowd-funding campaign for this resource has been an amazing outpouring of support for families like hers, making them feel more valued than she considered possible several years ago.

They identified and filled another gap by starting a positive social group for couples who wish to stay together when one member alters their gender identity and/or expression during the relationship, as almost all of the stories they came across were negative in nature, ending in separation. Challenging this assumption, this group includes an important catch-up for the non-transitioning partners to get together and share experiences - the first of its kind in and around Sydney.

With a background in IT architecture and management, Alison is also a musician in community bands around Macarthur. She and Liz are passionate environmentalists and vegans, housing numerous rescue animals on their property and running a local organic food bulk-buying group.

Alison has recently been invited to join the Rainbow Families committee, and is looking forward to continuing to give back to an organisation that has greatly helped her and her family.

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Parental Preparedness When You Have a Disability

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Kids don’t come home from the hospital with an instruction manual (how we wish they did!). But rest assured, all new parents get plenty of free advice—both solicited and unsolicited—from parents and non-parents alike. No two parents believe exactly the same thing, and you’ll get conflicting suggestions every time you turn the corner. This alone makes parenting challenging. But parenting with a disability is a whole different ball game, and even some traditional advice may not apply.

While not every suggestion will fit your situation, we’ve compiled a few of the soundest pieces of advice that can help you get mentally and physically prepared for parenthood.

Home safety

As an adult with a disability, you have learned to manage taking care of yourself. But you’re about to throw a whole new living, breathing being into the mix, and you’ll need to make further modifications to your lifestyle and home to make childcare easier and accommodate your newest family member. This includes installing grab bars in the tub and shower, which will assist you in bathing your child until he or she is old enough to handle this task alone. You may also wish to use non-slip mats in the kitchen and bathroom to further reduce your chances of tripping and falling while holding your baby. In the kitchen, label your children’s food as it’s prepared for storage with braille labels or other easily readable markings if you have a visual impairment. HomeAdvisor goes into greater detail on home modifications and lifestyle practices for those with physical and mental disabilities.

Travel

When you have kids, you will be on the go more than you ever imagined. Between doctor’s appointments, playdates, and last-minute trips to the store for their favourite cereal, having kids means lots of outings. Take some time now to research the best products for your specific type of disability. The Mobility Resource, a site that caters to adaptive driving clients, notes that an accessible stroller and swivel-base car seat are excellent additions to the disabled parent’s arsenal.

Emotional preparedness

If you think home and travel are the only things you need to prepare before having a baby, you’re wrong. All parents, regardless of physical abilities or disabilities, should take some time to evaluate their home life and come to terms with the way having children will change their current lifestyle dynamic. EssentiallyBaby.com.au asserts that thinking about parenthood ahead of time but not overplanning is vital in your preparation process. Discuss with your partner how bringing children into your family will change things. If you’re in a wheelchair, for instance, your walking partner may need to handle nighttime feedings and diaper changes. Likewise, auditory or visual impairments may mean one partner may have more responsibilities when it comes to things like teaching the child to talk or taking them for outings at the local playground.

Relationship

Another aspect of your life that will undoubtedly change when you have a baby is your relationship with your spouse or partner. Where you were once the center of each other’s lives, you will both soon your bouncing bundle of joy will be your main focus. Discuss this issue before the baby arrives and know that stress coupled with sleep deprivation can drive you each a little bonkers. Having a baby can either strengthen or harm a relationship—it is up to you which effect it has.

It’s true that having a baby changes everything. But if you can make a few changes before his or her arrival, it doesn’t have to turn your world upside down. Regardless of your physical abilities, there are plenty of ways to successfully raise a baby and maintain your adult relationships.

For an ever-changing library of information for parents with disabilities, visit the Australian Institute of Family Studies online.

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Guest Blogger Alastair Lawrie - Religious Exceptions: An Explainer

Religious exceptions have been in the news a bit lately. From discussions around whether civil celebrants and other wedding-related businesses should be able to refuse service to same-sex couples during the marriage equality debate late last year. To reports about the current Ruddock Religious Freedom Review, which is examining how religious freedom should be protected under Australian law.

But what exactly are ‘religious exceptions’? And how can they affect you?

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In short, religious exceptions are special privileges given to religious organisations that allow them to engage in conduct that would otherwise be prohibited by Commonwealth, state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

These loopholes allow such organisations to deny services to, fire or refuse to hire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (although it’s not just the LGBT community who are the targets, with discrimination also permitted on the basis of sex, marital or relationship status and some other attributes).

In NSW, the primary religious exceptions are found in section 56 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, which provides that:

Nothing in this Act affects:

(a)  the ordination or appointment of priests, ministers or religion or members of any religious order,

(b)  the training or education of persons seeking ordination or appointment as priests, ministers of religion or members of a religious order,

(c)   the appointment of any other person in any capacity by a body established to propagate religion, or

(d)  any other act or practice of a body established to propagate religion that conforms to the doctrines of that religion or is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of the adherents of that religion.

 

These provisions, and especially sub-section (d), are incredibly broad, and allow discrimination in an extremely wide range of circumstances.

This includes permitting foster care agencies operated by religious organisations to refuse applications by same-sex couples. This was confirmed in one of the most high-profile LGBT anti-discrimination cases in NSW in recent decades, where a decision by Wesley Mission to deny adoption to a male same-sex couple in 2002 was appealed all the way to the Court of Appeal and back to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in December 2010 which ultimately decided against the two men.

Foster care agencies are not the only type of organisation dealing with rainbow families (including prospective rainbow families) who are allowed to discriminate against lesbian, gay and trans people in NSW (noting that bisexual people are still not covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act at all).

Section 59A(1) provides that ‘Nothing in Part 3A or 4C affects any policy or practice of a faith-based organisation concerning the provision of adoption services under the Adoption Act 2000 or anything done to give effect to any such policy or practice.’

Believe it or not, however, that’s not even the worst section of NSW’s anti-discrimination laws. That (dis)honour goes to provisions which allow ‘private educational authorities’ to discriminate against lesbian, gay and trans students (sections 49ZO(3) and 38K(3)), including students who are the children of rainbow families, as well as against lesbian, gay and trans teachers and other staff (sections 49ZH(3)(c) and 38C(3)(c)).

Unlike other jurisdictions, this ability to exclude and expel is not restricted to religious schools, but in fact applies to all non-government schools and colleges.

Speaking of other jurisdictions, LGBTI people in NSW are also protected by the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984, which at least includes bisexual people, and also prohibits discrimination on the basis of intersex status.

Unfortunately, that legislation also contains religious exceptions, which are almost as broad as those found in the NSW Act, permitting discrimination by religious schools (although not other private, non-religious educational institutions) in section 38, as well as a general religious exception in section 37(1)(d):

Nothing in Division 1 or 2 affects:

(d)  any other act or practice of a body established for religious purposes, being an act or practice that conforms to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of that religion or is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of that religion.

On the positive side, the Sex Discrimination Act specifically removes the ability of Commonwealth-funded aged care services operated by religious organisations to discriminate against LGBT people accessing those services. That ‘carve-out’ has operated successfully since August 2013, and shows that religious organisations don’t actually need special privileges allowing them to discriminate against us.

In fact, in practice many religious organisations can and do treat all people equally, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But the problem is any religious organisation can discriminate against LGBT people, and rainbow families, at any time, and in most circumstances do so entirely lawfully.

Perhaps the final indignity is that they would be doing so with your money – nearly all religious organisations operating in health, education and community services are in receipt of Commonwealth, state or territory funding, meaning their prejudice is paid for out of the pockets of LGBTI taxpayers.

That’s why, rather than looking at expanding religious freedom in Australia, the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review should be considering how to better protect LGBT people from religious discrimination. And what better place to start than by winding back religious exceptions in Commonwealth and NSW anti-discrimination laws.

About Alastair Lawrie

Alastair Lawrie is a long-time advocate for LGBTI rights, with a particular focus on LGBTI anti-discrimination laws. He has previously been Policy Working Group Chair of both the Victorian and NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobbies and currently writes at www.alastairlawrie.net

 

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Mardi Gras Wrap Up

Thank you to everyone that helped make Mardi Gras a wonderful celebration for our community.

Fair Day saw us knee deep in craft and kids activities for the entire day, as well as providing information and networks to Rainbow Families community members.   It was a brilliant day and great to see more and more Rainbow Families every year. Thank you to the army of people that volunteered at Fair Day.

The Luna Park Rainbow Families day was a sell out, with LGBTQI families having a fantastic time watching the drag shows, and making the most of the rides and space to enjoy the day. We have already spoken to Mardi Gras about hosting a similar event next year, and have agreed that we need double the tickets in 2019!

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There was a special screening of Zootopia thanks to Queerscreen. This year there was more entertainment for the kids with a face painter and entertainer to make the day even more exciting for our families.

The fifth Rainbow Families LGBTIQ Antenatal Class welcomed seven expectant couples. Janet Broady – midwife educator – volunteers her time every three months to run this amazing resource for our community. The March class saw a venue change to Macquarie Bank’s event space. Rainbow Families would like to thank Macquarie Bank for their ongoing support.  The Rainbow Families Antenatal Class is an LGTBIQ focused, inclusive, parenting education class run quarterly.

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The Mardi Gras volunteer sub-committee worked many, many hours liaising with Mardi Gras organisers, developing float costumes and themes, scouring shops and beyond for all things gold and sparkly………there may be no gold paint available in and around Sydney for some time! The result was slick, sparkly and gorgeous. The City of Sydney also gave Rainbow Families a grant to help make Mardi Gras extra fabulous - we would like to thank The City of Sydney for their ongoing support. We could not put on all of the events throughout the year without our wonderful team of volunteers. If you would like to get involved at our upcoming events please contact us.

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For those marching with Rainbow Families it was a fabulous evening! The marshalling area was full of entertainment. The kids had a ball watching the other floats practice their dance moves, and the sense of community was amazing. Once we started marching, the kids didn’t know where to look. With so many people to high five and wave to it was a night they will remember forever.

In response to the overwhelming call for tickets from our community, the Rainbow Families Committee negotiated tirelessly for some secure viewing space for Rainbow Families unable to get tickets to march.  And finally Mardi Gras agreed, though only a week out - an extra 400 people were able to join us and celebrate Mardi Gras. The family viewing area was a safe inclusive space for our community to come together to watch the parade. As Mardi Gras only allowed us to use this space with one weeks’ notice, we weren’t able to fundraise to cover the costs of the area. If you would like to contribute towards these costs please donate here.

Thanks again to everyone that volunteered throughout Mardi Gras.

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Progress Lab Pitch

Rainbow Families, along with 6 other exceptional groups, has been chosen to participate in Progress Lab.

Progress Lab is a new social movement incubator that’s the first of it’s kind in Australia, run by Australian Progress in collaboration with ACOSS.

Check out the Rainbow Families pitch below, and if you would like to support Rainbow Families please get in touch.

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A resource for transgender and gender diverse parents

All families deserve to be treated with love and respect.

For families where one or more parents are transgender or gender diverse, the everyday challenges of raising children can be intensified by experiences of misunderstanding, exclusion or even hostility and hatred. And there are very few resources available to provide guidance.

We want to change that.  Rainbow Families NSW is raising $10,000 to create a series of ground-breaking and life-affirming resources for and with transgender and gender diverse parents. The resources are designed to assist with the process of transitioning in community, relieving much of the pressure transgender and gender diverse parents can experience to educate and inform others.

These resources will be created by transgender and gender diverse parents for transgender and gender diverse parents and their communities.

Transgender and gender diverse parents can struggle to:

·       Find the best way to include their partners, children and extended families about the process of transitioning;

·       Educate and inform teachers, health workers, colleagues, friends and other members of the LGBTIQA+ community about the experience of being transgender; 

·       Mediate and support children's experiences at schools, child-care centres and sporting clubs;

·       Practice self care and support themselves through the process of transitioning and beyond; and

·       Find ways to celebrate the diversity of their families.

While we celebrate our community's support for marriage equality, we ust remember that marriage remains unequal for many transgender and gender diverse couples, with antiquated laws in NSW forcing transgender or gender diverse residents to undergo invasive medical examinations and to divorce their partners in order to apply for a marriage certificate.

We need your help. $5,000 will help us work with experts in a variety of fields, as well as to design, print and distribute resources to support transgender and gender diverse parents.

Rainbow Families is a not-for-profit, volunteer-led organisation based in NSW. The mission of Rainbow Families is to build a community which fosters resiliency by connecting, supporting and empowering LGBTQI families.

Donate Here

Please dig deep and support this project today. We can't do it without you. 

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Volunteer profile Samantha Frain

Sam and her partner Jaie are the loving parents of two mighty munchkins. When she's not knee deep in home readers, gymnastic classes or dancing rehearsals Sam runs a disability-focused innovation not-for-profit. 

Sam has been on the RF committee since early 2017. An Occupational Therapist by trade, Sam is passionate about creating a community where all forms of diversity are accepted, embraced and celebrated. Sam grew up in northwest Sydney, sometimes referred to as The Hills District, and after the typical cycle of flatmates, rentals and shared living arrangements Sam and Jaie have chosen to raise their family back in the area.

As well as her work applying for grants for Rainbow Families, Sam is also the organiser of the The Hills District Catch Ups. The Hills District spans more than 50kms, so finding a convenient location to catch up with other local Rainbow Families can be hard. Wrestling your young brood into the car for a 'quick' 50min drive into Sydney's inner-west also has its downfalls. In response, the Hills District group meet at a different playground each catch up, ensuring all local families get a short commute at least once a year. To see when the next Hills District Catch Up is on, check out the Rainbow Families events page.

 

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Rainbow Families submission to the religious freedom review

Rainbow Families made a submission to the Australian Government’s review into religious freedom.

The review was initiated by the Government in response to opponents of marriage equality expressing concerns that their religious freedoms may be impinged upon by allowing LGBTIQ couple to marry. 

During the postal survey, they asked for the right to refuse more services to LGBTIQ people in the name of freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion is protected by s116 of the constitution which prohibits the Government from enacting legislation that prevents the free exercise of religion. 

And our anti-discrimination laws already contain a number of exemptions that allow organisations to discriminate against our community.

In practice, these exemptions have enabled religious organisations running schools to refuse to hire or to dismiss employees based on their sexuality as well as refusing enrolment to children who have same-sex parents.

These organisations are granted large amounts of taxpayer funds to deliver services to the general public and are major employers. They should be required to deliver these services in a way that is equitable and accountable to the public. Such discrimination should not be supported by public funding. 

During the postal survey last year, it was our families who bore the brunt of hate during the national debate about changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry, and it is our families who now face further hatred being entrenched in the name of religious freedom.

We asked our community to tell us about their experiences in dealing with existing organisations who are exempt from anti-discrimination legislation, and what they thought of proposals to introduce further exemptions.

Our community told us they are united in opposition to entrenching further discrimination against our families. 

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Rainbow Families believes that existing exemptions to anti-discrimination law unfairly target our community. We made the following recommendations to the Expert Panel:

  1. Existing exemptions should be reviewed with a view to removing exemptions from organisations that receive public funding or educate children. These organisations are granted large amounts of taxpayer funds to deliver services to the general public and are major employers. They should be required to deliver these services in a way that is equitable and accountable to the public. Such discrimination should not be supported by public funding. 
  2. Rainbow families does not support the extension of new exemptions under the Sex Discrimination Act to commercial enterprises who wish to refuse goods and services for same sex weddings or for any other purpose. Removing current protections in the Sex Discrimination Act would give licence to individuals and companies to discriminate against same sex couples on the most tenuous grounds.
  3. The right to have a religion and the right to manifest that religion where doing so would harm another person is a delicate balance in a multifaith society. Rainbow Families acknowledges the need to balance equality with the right to religious freedom but submit that existing measures already provide sufficient protection for religious freedom and in some cases, extend too far at the expense of equality. Measures such as those proposed would undermine the hard-fought right of marriage equality. 

 

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Have your say in the Rainbow Families Community Survey and win a $50 gift card

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2017 was a big year for Rainbow Families NSW, with a new Committee, popular events like the Halloween Disco and Family Pride, a huge Mardi Gras season, advocacy work on marriage equality as well as many other important issues, and Australia's first LGBTIQ antenatal class.

Rainbow Families is here for the community, and we want to make sure that we’re focusing on the things that are important to you, and that we’re doing them well!

We want to hear from you, so we can shape our plans for the year ahead.

Click here to have your say

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Progress Lab

Rainbow Families, along with 6 other exceptional groups and individuals, has been chosen to participate in Progress Lab. Progress Lab is a new social movement incubator that’s the first of it’s kind in Australia, run by Australian Progress in collaboration with ACOSS.

Vanessa Gonzalez, Mat Howard and Juliette Meaney will be representing our community organisation, and will be speakers at the launch and pitch nights in Melbourne and Sydney. Please send us your best wishes as we hope to engage and inspire new partnerships, funding and supporters.

We encourage all benefactors, donors and corporates interested in our work to attend the event and hear about these exciting social movements.

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Progress Lab Invitation to the Sydney Launch

From a pool of more than 100 ideas, Progress Lab identified 7 promising early-stage organisations with great potential to amplify the voices and achieve change for some of Australia's most marginalised communities. 

There is no doubt these organisations will be at the forefront of major national debates in the coming years - and in many cases, their leaders already are.

We're backing them with a structured 6-month support program to give them the best chance of success, and invite you to be part of this journey from the get-go.

Will you attend the Sydney Pitch Night to find out more about their visions for change and how you can get involved from the very beginning?

Hear from and speak directly to our first Progress Labs founders -- including:

·         Tim Lo Surdo from Democracy in Colour, Australia's first national racial justice advocacy organisation led by people of colour, recently launched.

·         Jason Ball and James Lolicato from Pride Cup, building a movement of advocates tackling homophobia in grassroots sport across rural and regional Australia.

·         Meagan Lawson and Corey Irlam from the Council on the Ageing, who are planning a new digital and grassroots movement of Australian seniors.

·         Karrina Nolan from Original Power, a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisation designed to increase the effectiveness of campaigns for self-determined solutions.

·         Joel Dignam from Comfy Homes, a campaigning movement designed to change the way we think about renting.

·         Owen Bennett and Jeremy Poxon from the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, combining 1:1 assistance for unemployed people with advocacy to amplify their voices.

·         Vanessa GonzalezJuliette Meaney and Mat Howard from Rainbow Families, an organisation providing LGBTQI families with access to relevant community programs, social connection, and advocacy support

Click here to secure your ticket to hear more about these projects and find out how you can be involved.

Progress Labs is generously backed by the Donkey Wheel Trust, Vasudhara Foundation and private donors - and designed to create a pipeline of exciting advocacy projects.

These are not your typical charity projects. They're bold, ambitious, experimental efforts to achieve systems change by elevating the voices of people missing from our national debates. They provide new models for citizen engagement -- and together we can help strengthen our democracy.

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Rainbow Families tell Parliament what it was like to have the postal survey inflicted on us

Rainbow Families NSW has told a Parliamentary Committee what it was like being at the pointy end of the marriage equality debate last year, in a submission to the Inquiry into Arrangements for the Postal Survey. 
 
The Inquiry was established to examine the process of the postal survey, including the Parliament’s protections against offensive, misleading or intimidating material or behaviour, especially towards affected communities.
 
Rainbow Families co-chair Vanessa Gonzalez, said that postal survey was a tough time for many in our community, particularly parents of young children who were exposed to leaflets, advertising and discussions that painted our families in an extremely negative light.
 
“Even though the Parliament enacted protections against vilification, and to ensure that advertising aligned with existing electoral law, those protections were not enough to safeguard our families from ending up on the frontline of a divisive debate that caused great harm to many in our community.
 
“Once the door was opened to this debate by the Government it was our families ended up on the frontline.”
 
Co-Chair Mat Howard said that “When the idea of a plebiscite was raised, Rainbow Families campaigned against a divisive public poll, precisely because when marriage equality was debated in France, Ireland, the US and UK, the children of same-sex couples became the focus of some hurtful statements and campaigns. 
 
“We did not want that to happen here. And we do not want it to happen to any group ever again. 
 
Rainbow Families submission is comprised of the very real experiences of our community and includes stories of: 
 
·         Families who received flyers stating that homosexuality is “the curse of death”
 
·         Families who received homophobic letters from neighbours
 
·         People who were barraged with hateful discriminatory messages on social media from friends and family, saying that same sex couples are in the same category as paedophiles, bestiality and polygamy.
 
·         Parents exposed to negative advertising from No campaign targeting their kids and parenting.
 
·         The impact on children who were bullied at school because of the messages other children were receiving about LGBTIQ families.

Download a copy of the submission

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Mardi Gras Ticket Update

Tonight we were overwhelmed with people logging on to buy tickets for Mardi Gras, and just like when Britney was announced to headline Brighton Pride, our system crashed.

The good news is that we have a waitlist which has been recording chronologically, so we will be contacting families in the order they registered for the waitlist to fill the remaining spots to march with us.

This year we were allocated 150 spots by Mardi Gras, across 3 floats.

We are trying to move mountains to get more tickets, and doing everything we can to maximise the ways families can get involved.

We are exploring the option of a "Rainbow Families Mardi Gras Sideline" area so more families can view the parade. Whilst marching is a wonderful experience, watching the 40th Mardi Gras parade will be amazing. Let us know if you are interested in this idea.

There will also be lots of family friendly events as part of the Mardi Gras festival.

Apologies to anyone who tried to get tickets tonight and missed out.

It’s a testament to our beautiful community that we are getting bigger every year.

Xx

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Storybower – FREE Australian audio stories for preschoolers

‘What do you mean, I’m not a bear? My NAME is Koala Bear!’

Your little preschoolers will love this free collection of audio stories about young Australian animals and their adventures - produced by some of our wonderful community members.

There’s Little Sugar Glider, who is excited to be leaving the nest for the first time, with the help of her two dads. There’s the story of two mother possums, that manage to out-race a hungry quoll, and save their family. There’s Little Koala Bear, who discovers she’s not really a bear at all, and Blue-tongue Lizard, who behaves badly (and ends up with a blue tongue).

Storybower stories are Australian, educational, and rainbow-family-friendly. Each story includes animal facts, and links to further information and Australian animal craft activities.

Search for ‘Storybower’ in iTunes Podcasts or visit www.storybower.com

Happy listening!

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Have your say in the Rainbow Families Community Survey and win a $50 gift card

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2017 was a big year for Rainbow Families NSW, with a new Committee, popular events like the Halloween Disco and Family Pride, a huge Mardi Gras season, advocacy work on marriage equality as well as many other important issues, and Australia's first LGBTIQ antenatal class.

Rainbow Families is here for the community, and we want to make sure that we’re focusing on the things that are important to you, and that we’re doing them well!

We want to hear from you, so we can shape our plans for the year ahead.

Click here to have your say

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Halloween Disco Social Story

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In order to better support and include children with disability within the community, Rainbow Families created a social story for the Halloween Disco.

Developed with the assistance of a registered Speech Pathologist, the stories will be  provided to parents and carers free of charge.

Parents and carers can use the stories as a tool to assist their child with disability understand, anticipate, and participate in the activities run by Rainbow Families.

It is hoped that as a result of these stories children with disability will experience greater levels of engagement and confidence during community activities, and reduced distress, anxiety and isolation.

Future Social Stories to be released include: Going to Mardis Gras, Going to Fair Day, Going to Playgroup and Going to the Catch-Up.

This initiative is possible thanks to funding through the FundAbility program, operated by The Northcott Society.

Download your copy of the Halloween Disco Social Story here

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Rainbow Families Working With Children Check Policy

Rainbow Families is committed to ensuring that children are protected in any of the activities or events that come under the Rainbow Families banner, particularly in relation to volunteers and staff who are working with kids.

With this in mind, the committee has developed a Working With Children Check Policy which will be phased in by the end of October 2017.

The policy simply requires anyone who volunteers or works with Rainbow Families to have a valid Working With Children Check Number. These will be stored and verified by Rainbow Families.


Getting a Working With Children Check Number is quick and easy, and as a volunteer it is free. It is one small way the Rainbow Families committee can ensure the safety of the children in our community.

Click here to see the Rainbow Families Working With Children Check Policy

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Changes from the Love Makes A Family Report

Great news! The NSW Blue Book is now more inclusive for LGBTIQ parents and carers, and same sex parents who deliver a baby at RPA hospital from November will be able to register births online.

In May this year Rainbow Families released a report into discrimination faced by LGBTIQ parents and carers when accessing NSW government services. Over 200 people responded to the survey, with personal stories of discrimination they had experienced from our government. This formed the basis of the Love Makes A Family Report, along with recommendations for ministers on how to make NSW Government services more inclusive for LGBTIQ parents and their children.

The report was launched at NSW Parliament with over 20 politicians in attendance. We took the Rainbow Families Playgroup to Parliament and everyone loved the opportunity to meet their local members and introduce some of our children to them and chat about issues that are important to our community.

The report was sent to all minsters and shadow ministers. Since then Rainbow Families has been meeting with departments to discuss how we can work together to on the recommendations.

We met with a number of people from the department of health. The great news from these meetings is they are keen to work with us to make antenatal classes more inclusive for LGBTIQ parents. There is also interest in having a greater representation of LGBTIQ parents in promotional material available at hospitals.

The Blue Book (Child Personal Health Record) had a major review last year. Rainbow Families was consulted on this review, and provided a number of recommended changes to make the resource better represent our families. Simple changes like taking out mother and father have been implemented where possible. The updated Blue Book is now being issues across the state, so all babies born from now on should receive the more inclusive version.

We also met with the Attorney General’s Office, and representatives from Birth Deaths and Marriages to discuss legal parentage, surrogacy, and increasing the number of parents able to be listed on a birth certificate. The great news from this meeting is a trial for online birth registrations for babies born to same sex parents in NSW. The trial will take place at RPA hospital this November, and will be rolled out across the state hopefully next year.

There were many issues raised by our community in the consultation process for the report, and over 25 recommendation made in the report. Unfortunately many of these changes will not be immediate, however we have started the conversations, and will continue to work with Government Department, to make NSW Government services more inclusive and safe for our growing community.

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Rainbow Families Welcomes new Co Chairs & Committee

The Inaugural Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 17 September. It was a time the first AGM following incorporation in April 2016, and a time to reflect on the many achievements, and elect the new management committee.  The new committee consisting of 15 passionate and committed people were elected on the night. 

Mat Howard and Vanessa Gonzalez were elected unopposed as the new co-chairs.  Vanessa is a founding member of Rainbow Families and will take up her second term as co chair. Mat has been a member of the committee for over a year. He  has championed community consultation, and been a leader expanding the advocacy work.  We pay tribute to our Committee of Management and welcome those newly elected;

Mat Howard Co Chair
Vanessa Gonzalez Co Chair
Charmaine Flood Secretary
Rica Seeto Treasurer
Cathy Brown Ordinary Member
Cec Busby Ordinary Member
Nicholas Stewart Ordinary Member
Bern Foley Ordinary Member
Jai Reid Ordinary Member
Samantha Frain Ordinary Member
Alison Eaton Ordinary Member
Juliette Meaney Ordinary Member
Dror Hazy Ordinary Member
Claire Blewett  Ordinary Member
Ashley Scott Ex Officio member

This year we said goodbye to some great members

Ashley Scott (founding member and recent cochair) steps down from the leadership role to take up the newly created part time Community Worker position. Founding co chair and passionate volunteer Scott Brunelle steps down from the committee this year. Scott is credited as being a key driver in establishing the community organisation, making it inclusive of gay dads, and setting up a strong community brand.   Justine Harris also resigned this year. Justine brought with her a passion for parent education and welfare. The many parenting programs were established with Justine's guidance.  Also leaving this year were inaugural secretary Dianna Coffey. Diana was instrumental in drafting the constitution, seeking incorporation and building a professional response to community. 

Being our first AGM, this is our first opportunity to formally say thanks to all our previous Committee Members

Diana Coffey (inaugural secretary)
Leah Newman (Art Design and coms)
Justine Harris (Playgroups, education and welfare)
Sandra Santos ( Snow trip organiser)
Scott Williams (marketing and social media)
Justine Maguire- Scavelli (Inaugural CoChair)
Laurie Berg (Advocacy)  

We value those new committee members joining in 2017/18 and encourage you to all become involved. Become a financial member of Rainbow Families today.

All Rainbow Families  Financial Members are entitled to inspect records relating to the process and outcome of Annual General Meeting elections or copies of any previous minutes or financial statements. If you would like to inspect the records please contact us at info@rainbowfamilies.com.au 

Vanessa and Mat.jpg

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