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Volunteer Profile - Rica Seeto

From $200 in a sock drawer to a healthy financial organisation

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Like many grassroots organisations, Rainbow Families started with a humble kitchen meeting, phone call to networks, and lots of passionate parents.

Of course LGBTQI people have been parents for ages, but recent years has seen an increase in opportunities available to us. Some of this has been access to clinics, changes in adoption laws, support for fostering, and having more parent role models in our community. There have been lots of parent social groups, but despite the growth in our community, a professional community organisation was missing.

In the first year the committee developed a constitution, sought to encourage and invite broad participation of community members in the governance of the work, became incorporated, formalised systems, and developed a strong brand. We also put on lots of events, started a newsletter, applied for grants, forged partnerships, and advocated for the community. We fundraised and had $200 stored in a sock drawer. But what was missing was formal accounting!

Each meeting the lack of treasurer was noted in the minutes. Few felt they had the skills or interest to take it on. Where would this magic person come from?  

One day Rica was reading the newsletter and clicked on to read the minutes of the previous committee meeting. She read every line and noticed the need for a treasurer.

Rica wrote to the committee offering support, “I am not sure if you could use my help, been a treasurer before, worked managing financials for films..oh and I am an accountant.” Could she help us? Absolutely! Rica was what we were all waiting for.

Rainbow Families has grown from small amounts held in cash to being a community organisation with over $100,000 turnover each year. We don’t receive ongoing funding, but we fundraise and apply for grants for specific projects. We self –fund for our 2 day a week worker.

Rica is an amazing asset to our community. She manages the wages for our part time worker, ensures we meet ATO legislation, pays all accounts, juggles the cash flow for the myriads of projects we undertake each year, and is crucial in supporting our growth vision. She is also important in ensuring we run a transparent, ethical, professional and well managed community organisation. 

Rica is a parent of 2 gorgeous sons. She also volunteers in her school’s P&C, and when she is not doing that her partner Min and her are currently supporting refugees in Naru.

We acknowledge and thank Rica for establishing some healthy accounting practices over the last 2 years.  Rica is at the heart of our organisation, a volunteer who gives hours each week to ensure that we all have a thriving healthy community.

If you would have a passion for community or a skill to share please consider becoming a volunteer.

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Resource for separating parents

Resource for separating parents

Are you separating or separated? Rainbow Families is developing a resource for separating parents in our community.

We would like to consult with parents who have experience of this and hear what information you needed or helped, what wasn’t helpful, and what advice you would give others going through the same process. We want to hear from parents that have had positive cooperative experiences, as well as nightmare ones, separating from a previous straight relationship or from an LGBTQI partner, as well as any that are navigating hard and complex systems. 

We aim to develop a resource that is relevant and authentic.  Thanks to those that attended the face to face sessions last month.

If you still want to share your story in an anonymous way, please share it here. We really appreciate your time.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2YK3ZCZ

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Rainbow Families New Website to Sparkle

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Rainbow Families New Website to Sparkle

Rainbow Families has received a funding grant to develop a new website. The $36,000 grant will ensure that the new website makes reaching our community, and finding information more accessible for all, especially parents with a disability.

The new website will be inclusive in its design, visual representation and accessibility. There will be easier access to events, ways to be part of our advocacy work, and register for events.  It aims to remove barriers faced by parents with a disability to access much needed information, support and connection. It will increase a sense of belonging and participation.

During the website development we consulted with parents with a disability or parents who have children with a disability.  If you are a parent with a disability it’s not too late to get involved. We would love to consult you on the design and also be part of user testing.

Principle & Co have been contracted to develop the website.  As part of the new website the content has been reviewed and new photographs will depict the diverse range of families in our community. During the recent “ Big Bright Sparkly Days Camp” many parents and children volunteered to be part of this project. Thanks to those families who will feature in the new website and promotional material.

We are grateful for this amazing funding from Northcott enabling our community organisation to be accessible to all families.

For more information or to become involved in this project please email info@rainbowfamilies.com.au

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Youth Advisory Council

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The Rainbow Families Youth Advisory Council was established in 2018, to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard, and are able shape and to participate in the development of policies and services that concern them.

The Youth Advisory Council is open to any child or young person who has a parent or family that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, queer and intersex.

There is a junior and senior council, ranging from 10 – 21 years of age. The junior council offers an introduction to governance, and opportunity to develop skills and create projects and initiative focused on young children. The senior council operates more formally and can be active in setting advocacy and policy goals, and develop projects and initiatives for young people and young adults in our community. The senior council also offers and important mentoring role for younger councilors joining the junior council.

The Youth Advisory Council has the following functions:

·      To advise the Rainbow Families committee on the needs, issues, and priorities for children and young people in our community

·      To provide a voice on the needs of children and young people in relation to advocacy priorities, education and welfare priorities

·      To develop leadership skills, and provide mentoring and support to children and young people entering our community

·      To find ways to reach out to marginalized or remote children and young people

·      To coordinate social and education events and resources relevant to children and young people

What will I get out of it?

Youth Councilors will receive training sessions about community management, being part of social movements, and hear from special guests of the community and diversity industries, learning how to be the best campaigner of human rights they can be.

You will be able to support and be a mentor to younger children in our community.

You will be pivotal in providing guidance and advice to the Rainbow Families board about changes, future social and cultural event and activities that they want to see!

Qualities to be a youth councilor you need to be:

·      Be passionate about your family and our community.

·      Care about supporting other children in rainbow families.

·      Be available to attend meeting in Sydney once a month

Corporate Sponsor

The Rainbow Families Council is supported by Deloitte. Deloitte view diversity and inclusion as central to their ability to execute on strategy. Through their extensive research, Deloitte have discovered that at the intersection of diversity and inclusion lies an area rich with fresh, innovative ideas and creativity – which drives better employee experiences and ultimately – better outcomes. Respect and inclusion are core values at Deloitte and these are the responsibility of all their employees from CEO right through to graduates.

 

We are pleased to have their support for the Youth Advisory Council, offering meeting space, advice and training opportunities for our children and young people

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Rainbow Families Board of Management

Vanessa Gonzalez is the Co-Chair and ex officio member supporting the Youth Advisory Council. Marly Greenwood is a volunteer parent also supporting the council. As per our Child Protection Policy all adults engaged in working with children and young people, including in this voluntary capacity, have a cleared Working with Children Check.

How do I join up?

Interested children and young people are invited to send an email expressing interest in getting involved and a contact number. Younger children may need the support of a parent in doing this. A Youth Council leader will ring you and invite you to a meeting so you can see what it is like and decide if it’s for you.

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Guest Blog - Mary Flaskas from Inclusivity Consultants

Supporting LGBTIQ students and families

Since the de-funding of the Safe Schools Coalition initiative in NSW, there has been little in the way of support for teaching staff, students and their families struggling with ways to incorporate LGBTIQ awareness and inclusivity within their schools, which is why my colleague and I, Darby Carr, have decided to start our own venture, Inclusivity Consultants.

Inclusivity Consultants are now offering services to schools and other educational institutions to be able to continue some of this necessary and important work. Collectively, we have over eight years’ experience working directly with executive staff, teaching and administrative staff, students, families and community support services in the specific area of LGBTIQ inclusivity. We offer individual consultations that acknowledge the uniqueness of each setting, helping staff and families to come up with an action plan that is comprehensive and realistic.

For many years, we have been involved in creating safe and supportive school environments for LGBTIQ young people. We worked with staff, students and families in government, independent and faith-based schools as well as delivering inclusivity training to universities, legal, medical and community organisations.

When people heard about the initiative, many of them said “I wish there was something like that when I was growing up”.  They went on to describe the alienation, isolation, abuse and discrimination they were subjected to by fellow classmates and members of their communities. Of being shunned by family and friends. Of having to pretend that they were interested in the opposite sex, some even getting married and having families, resulting in the inevitable pain and heartbreak when ‘pretending’ was no longer an option.

There were also stories about the battles with gender identity, of not understanding why they didn’t ‘fit in’, why having to answer to a particular name, play with a particular toy or wear a particular item of clothing generated such distress.

This is why it has been so fulfilling working with LGBTIQ young people, as they strive to get their schools to make a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Equally, working alongside principals to develop policies for the creation of environments free from bullying and discrimination. This has involved working on strategies to counter the insidious use of throwaway comments like ‘that’s so gay’, helping staff recognise that excuses such as ‘they don’t really mean that’ is no longer acceptable when young people were being hurt and made to feel bad about who they are.

It has also been immensely satisfying working with families and P&C’s, helping people understand that being transgender is not ‘just a passing whim’ that is picked up on the internet, that our gender diverse young people are able to articulate what they need to be their authentic selves. We have helped schools develop support plans that are realistic and yet incorporate the needs of these students, dispelling myths about toilets and change rooms and sports competitions. 

Teachers are grateful that they have been given an understanding of the ever-growing acronym – LGBTIQA+, the historical context of language, the meaning of identity, why the needs of people who are intersex is a human rights issue, why LGBTIQ visibility is a wellbeing issue. They are able to acknowledge that these changes are helping all students, because a safe, supportive environment means everyone is able to thrive.

On a personal level, I am a same-gender attracted woman living within a vibrant queer community. I am also the mum of a wonderful young woman, who has grown up with the support of this same vibrant and supportive community. She understands that being gay is just part of who someone is, along with their jobs, friends and personal interests. Writing in her primary school journal, she would describe her weekend by talking about going to Fair Day. She rode her scooter in the Mardi Gras parade and came along to queer performances and poetry readings.

However, she too, had her challenges. When she was three, she declared that she no longer wanted to wear dresses. For many years, she cut her hair short and dressed in pants and t-shirts. When we were travelling overseas, people would ask about my ‘little boy’. And then one day, at high school, the principal went up to her and said ‘why are you wearing the blue pants, you should be wearing the grey pants?’. She answered, ‘because I’m a girl”. It felt like vindication when that school became one of the first in NSW to adopt a gender-neutral uniform policy.

The legalization of same sex marriage in Australia also felt like vindication. It was an important step for Australia to take. However, this has not automatically ‘fixed’ everything. Young people talk about homophobic bullying and name-calling continuing within their classrooms and in their playgrounds. With every new school year and a new cohort of young students, staff are having to re-visit the strategies they had put into place to challenge this hurtful and unacceptable behaviour.

Families of gender diverse and transgender children continue to seek assistance with negotiations around setting up supportive structures for their children within educational institutions that get overwhelmed by the need for a comprehensive plan around name changes, uniforms, use of toilets and change rooms, sports and extra-curricular activities such as school camps. These adjustments mean that a young person is able to participate in all areas of the curriculum and school life, instead of being disengaged and limiting their future opportunities.

The journey continues – young people have been crying out for change, for recognition beyond the stereotypical ‘gay’ labels and the restrictive gender binary. It’s time for schools to catch up - it isn’t scary, it’s exciting, achievable and broadens our understanding of diversity.

Mary Flaskas

Mary and Darby are skilled educators who offer a range of educational and support services through Inclusivity Consultants.

For more information on their products and services and to contact them

https://www.inclusivityconsultants.com.au

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CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK FOR RAINBOW FAMILIES

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CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK FOR RAINBOW FAMILIES

Customised children’s books for rainbow families | Age Range 2-6

It is a real challenge to find quality children’s books that reflect our rainbow families.


For parents raising kids in diverse families being able to share stories that make kids feel included in the storybook world is so important. After all, children’s literature is one of the key ways kids make sense of their worlds.

mememe.press is now publishing a highly customised book that allow parents to create stories that reflect their unique family. The book is written by award-winning children’s authors and tells the story of a little kid, looking up from their toys on a Sunday morning to find their family has disappeared! Follows a romp around the house discovering family members hidden under lamps, crouching on the couch (like an old corn chip) or in the bath to name a few spots. The people the child finds change based on who is in YOUR family.
To make the story yours - include up to 4 adults (including grandparents and any mix of mums/dads and other significant people in your child’s life), up to 5 siblings and a pet.

The books have been developed with the idea that each child, no matter what their family make up, should be able to find themselves in a book. 

The books can be ordered online and arrive printed and ready to be read.
Go to www.mememe.press to make YOUR book.

To celebrate our community, use the code: RAINBOW15 at checkout for 15% off the book price.

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Volunteer Profile - Karen

Karen first became involved in Rainbow Families when friends invited her to attend the Erskineville Playgroup late last year.  Karen and her family met some lovely volunteers and attended a number of events where they saw the great way the volunteers were working together to further the Rainbow Families values and message.

When we recently advertised for an Administration Assistant, Karen put up her hand and we jumped at the chance to put her extensive administration and office skills to good use.  Karen is currently working together with Ashley to compile the monthly newsletter and is on call to help with organising events, proofreading documents and anywhere her skills can be put to good use.

Karen is engaged to Lisa and they have a beautiful daughter Lilly who was born in October last year.  They live in South Western Sydney and are enjoying being part of the newly formed Parramatta area Rainbow Families social group. Karen is currently on maternity leave and plans to return to work later this year at which time Lisa will take over full time mumma duties. Never far from their side is their adorable miniature schnauzer Rebel, who joins them on as many adventures as possible.

There are many volunteering opportunities behind the scenes at Rainbow Families, so if you have some skills you think might be useful for us, don't hesitate to get in touch to lend a hand.

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Reach Out Video

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Reach Out Video

Check out this great video of Jesse from the Rainbow Families Youth Advisory Council.

Jesse shares the best parts of living in a rainbow family, and some of the challenges of having a different family structure.

"They've taught me to be accepting of everyone, no matter what race, skin colour, gender or anything."

 

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Playgroup Education Series

As part of Rainbow Families ongoing relationship with Sydney Local Health District, we are thrilled to be presenting a number of education sessions for parents at the Rainbow Families Erskineville Playgroup in August.

On August 9th, Jenni Jones from Child and Family Health Nursing will be talking about Growth and Development for babies and toddlers.

August 16th sees Dani Frisch, a Social Worker discussing the importance of positive parent - child relationship, and how best to create bonds between parents and babies.

And on August 30th, Jamila Solomon, a Childhood Psychologist will be giving us tips and tricks for managing challenging child behaviour.

Finally on September 27th Nicole, a Speech Pathologist will be chatting about developmental milestones for babies and toddlers, and ways to support communication development in babies and toddlers.

These sessions will be informal 15 minute discussion with the parents. The educators will be available afterward to answer any questions from the group, or one on one.

Rainbow Families Playgroup is on each Thursday from 10am - 12pm.

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Guest Blog Post from Jacqueline McDiarmid

Guest Blog Post from Jacqueline McDiarmid - Director at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists.

Jacqueline is a wonderful member of the Rainbow Families community, and volunteers her time at the Making Rainbow Families Seminar each year.

In her blog post below she talks about when things aren’t good at home. 

As a Family Therapist one of the most common presentations I see is separated parents who are continually in conflict or hostile toward each other – and worried about how their fighting is affecting their children.

Some separated parents fight because they have differing parenting styles. Sometimes the involvement of step-parents is problematic. And sometimes there is a parent who does not feel they have enough access to their child or children.

But they all have difficulty stopping the hostility, resentment and fighting.

Any kind of parental conflict (whether it be between parents who are still  together or separated) causes stress on a child. We know from research that a child’s cortisol levels are generally higher when parents are in conflict. High cortisol levels impact a child’s cognitive ability, making it difficult for them to concentrate at school.  We also know that when parents are in high conflict, their children often end up with emotional and social problems. In high conflict families I often see children with high anxiety or low mood – mental health problems.

Many of these children or teenagers tell me they feel caught between their parents. They say they don’t feel able to say what they really think or feel at home, because they’re worried they’ll hurt one of their parents or let them down. Older kids often carry the burden of thinking they have to choose one parent over another. Or, they carry the greater burden of being the emotional supporter of a parent who has disclosed information about the other parent. Sadly, what often happens is children don’t really feel like they want to be with either parent. The pressure is too much.

Research tells us that children of divorced or separated parents are twice as likely to experience social, academic and behavioural problems. However, ongoing high conflict between parents who are separated causes the greatest stress on child/children.  For this reason, setting up good non-reactive communication patterns between the separated parents is crucial.

Here are some examples of inappropriate behaviour I see from separated parents:

  • A parent who demeans or undermines the other parent in front of the child and or other people.
  • A parent who shares information about the other parent’s bad behaviour.
  • A parent who does not support the child to have meaningful time with the other parent.
  • A parent who does not allow a child to talk naturally and positively about their other parent.
  • A parent whose rules are too rigid and does not allow for flexibility on occasions involving the other parent.
  • A parent who asks a child to carry hostile messages to the other parent.
  • A parent who asks a child/teenager intrusive questions about the other parent.
  • A parent who does not allow or encourage the child to communicate with the other parent.
  • A parent who punishes a child or teenager either overtly or covertly for wanting to spend more time with the other parent.
  • A parent who does not work with the other parent to provide a similar routine and rules for the child.

Many parents forget that their child is also part of the other parent and their family. This means when a parent demeans the other parent they are also demeaning their child.

Ten things you can do to reduce potential damage to your children if you are fighting:

  1. Simply make a decision to stop all conflict. If you just can’t agree on parenting styles or decisions, book in to see a Family Therapist and they will help you with this.
  2. Emails and text messages should be just about practical arrangements and information about the child/teenager. Take all emotions and commentary out of this type of communication. If you are upset with the other parent, call them instead and/or consider post-separation counselling.
  3. Make transition from one home to the other a positive, conflict-free experience for your kids. Transition time is not the time for conflict. The child is already likely to be anxious – don’t add to their discomfort by fighting.
  4. If you need to discuss grievances, do it away from the child/children.
  5. Encourage your child/teenager to spend time with the other parent.
  6. Don’t disclose or burden your child/teenager with your feelings about the other parent, and don’t criticise your ex-partner in front of the children.
  7. Don’t disclose your worries that result from the separation with the child/teenager – e.g. financial concerns.
  8. Don’t take it personally if your child or teenager wants to spend more time with the other parent, or says that they miss the other parent.
  9. Make time to communicate with the other parent about your child’s development. Do it regularly.
  10. Discuss with your ex how you can both support each other to be the best co-parents you can be.

High conflict between separated parents peaks in the first three years after separation. This is a crucial time to get help from a Family Counsellor.  A Family Therapist will work with you both to set up positive communication patterns, to set up new routines, navigate through transition from one home to the next, and to manage emotions when you’re around each other.

If you have been through the Family Court for custody or there are step-parents now involved, I’d say Family Counselling is vital.  It is not uncommon for me to do family sessions where there are step-parents as well as the parents in the room.  I would much rather see parents invest in Family Counselling as soon as separation occurs than be in real strife years down the track when relationships are more difficult to repair and teenagers are struggling with significant problems.

And lastly remember you are the adults – your child or teenager might seem adult like at times but they are not.  They do not have the capability to manage adult emotions and stress.  Don’t take your stuff out on them.  Sometimes you just need to make the decision to stop the hostility because that’s the most loving thing you can do for your children.

If you and your ex require help to manage your conflict or parenting styles, please contact Jacqueline today on 0289689397 and she will support you to make the relationship changes you need to minimise the conflict and build a stronger co-parenting relationship..

The information in this article is adapted from a review of the research conducted by Kelly, J. (2012) Risk and protective factors associated with child and adolescent adjustment following separation and divorce: Social science applications, Chapter 3. In Eds. K. Kuehnle & L. Drozd. Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied research for the family court, Oxford University Press, New York.

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Making Rainbow Families Seminar Wrap Up

 

Rainbow Families hosted the third annual Making Rainbow Families Seminar on June 16th. Over 50 LGBTIQ perspective parents attending to hear about the different pathways to becoming a parent.

The day started with couples and family counsellorJacqueline McDiarmid asking the group if they were really ready to be parents, and discussing some of the common issues she sees with families.

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Attendees were then able to chose between three talks tailored to the different needs within our community.

Home insemination and IVF which was presented by IVF Australia and Jo Perks.

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Surrogacy which was presented by Families Through Surrogacy and Rainbow Fertility.

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Options for trans and gender diverse people presented by Monash IVF.

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Joanna Mrakovicic from Barnados spoke about the changes within the fostering and adoption system - which now welcomes LGBTIQ carers.

There were also discussion around finding the right health care professional, followed by Nick Stewart and Tim Nicholls from Dowson Turco Lawyers who gave a very informative talk on the legal issues LGBTIQ parents need to be aware of.

The day finished with a panel of children raised by LGBTIQ parents, and parents from our community representing all of the options available to potential parents - giving attendees an opportunity to ask parents and children about challenges and rewards of  parenting as an out and proud LGBITQ person.

A very special thanks to the parents and children who generously shared their journey to parenthood and the joys of being part of a Rainbow family. Thanks to Bridget, Juliette, Marly, Paul, Ashley, Jesse and Jules. And to our wonderful volunteer Ali who was the MC for the day.

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Volunteer Profile - Justine Field

Justine is a proud mum of the wonderful eight year old Remy, who she coparents with Remy’s other mum.

Justine became involved with Rainbow Families through the Monthly Catch Up in the Inner West where she found the wonderful community of Rainbow Families. Being a Marrickville local the monthly Sydney Park catch up is an easy regular way to connect with other LGBTIQ parents and their children.

Justine has a background in family law and legal policy and currently works as a family dispute resolution practitioner.

Using her background, Justine is currently developing a resource for separated families in the LBGTIQ community. She is looking forward to hearing about the community's experiences as this will be central to the resource. The aim is to provide practical guidance that responds to the particular needs of the LGBITQ community as mainstream resources don't always recognise these.

Justine also consulted with the community about the experience of navigating the family law system, before writing a submission to the inquiry into the family law system on behalf of Rainbow Families.

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All Families Resource - update

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All Families Resource - update

A reference group has been established to produce the All Families resource and to build the content. 

A key component of the resource will include content from children with parents who are either transgender or gender diverse. 

This weekend a number of families met to discuss how this could happen and interview children. The results have been very positive for the families. 

The next step will be interviews with trans / gender diverse parents and their partners to drive the content for the resource. 

Jac Tomlins who worked with Rainbow Families on the Early Years School Guide has been engaged to carry out the interviews and work with the reference group to bring together the content. 

We are hoping to have the resource ready by the end of the year. 

 

Thanks again to everyone that contributed.

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Rainbow Families Separation Guide: Focus Group

Are you separated or separated from a partner? Rainbow Families is developing a resource for separating parents in our community. 

We would like to consult with any parents who have experience of this and hear what information you needed or need, what helped you, what wasn’t great, and what advice you would offer other parents going through this process. We want to hear from parents that have had positive cooperative experiences,  as well as any that are navigating hard and complex issues and systems. We aim to develop a resource that is relevant and authentic.

We are keen to hear about any legal issues and needs, emotional support, how to support children, dealing with school after,  and any special considerations for LGBTQI parents.

Saturday 23 June

2 – 4 PM

Newtown Neighbourhood Centre

1 Bedford St
Newtown NSW 2042

The focus group will be CONFIDENTIAL.  Unfortunately childcare is not available. A further focus group is being planned for Western Sydney.

It will be facilitated by Social Worker Vanessa Gonzalez and Lawyer Justine Fields.  Justine has a background in family law and legal policy, currently working as a family dispute resolution practitioner. Vanessa is a Social Worker with experience in child protection, and supporting families.

If you would like to share your ideas and experience individually, we can make a time for a telephone interview.

To arrange a phone call or attend the focus group, please RSVP Vanessa at  cochair@rainbowfamilies.com.au

RSVP highly appreciated as we are providing our volunteer time and a yummy afternoon tea

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Volunteer Profile Bridget

Meet Bridget a pansexual and genderfluid (non binary) parent, and life partner to an awesome trans woman. 

Together we have two children (5 years old and 10 years old), and one cat. We live in Sydney’s East. I got involved with Rainbow Families as a parent looking to connect with other gender diverse families.

Through Rainbow Families we have meet some amazing families and our kids have developed beautiful relationships.

At the moment, I am helping with the upcoming resource for trans and gender diverse families. I am also going to be speaking on the panel of LGBTQIA+ folks at the upcoming Making Rainbow Families Seminar. 

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May Antenatal Class

Congratulations to the 18 parents-to-be who attended the Rainbow Families Antenatal Class held at Macquarie Bank in Barangaroo on Sunday 27th May.

We had a great day, lots of laughs, new friendships formed and informed, well prepared people ready for their BIG DAY and new baby.

Janet Broady the Parent Educator co-presented with Cath Stuart from Damara Massage, Suellen Robinson a Midwife from Blacktown Hospital, Reb Schoates an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor and Macquarie Bank’s organiser extraordinaire Hazel George.

It’s always great to hear about other people’s birth stories. If anyone from our RF community would like to come along and share their experience - these classes run quarterly on the last Sunday of August, November, February and May each year and Janet would love to hear from you. We can offer you free parking and lunch if you are willing to volunteer your time. Likewise if there’s anyone wanting to get involved to help with these classes Janet would love to hear from you too.

Next class is Sunday 26th August - tell your pregnant friends to book in. Please make our new parents welcome to the big Rainbow Family when you see them at our next event.

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Opera House Discount for Rainbow Families

The wonderful people at The Opera House have a special offer for Rainbow Families. A generous 20% off standard prices to two upcoming productions:

Ruby’s Wish is a heart-warming story of resilience and imagination set in the hospital where Ruby – who is seven and three quarters – spends most of her time, visited by beat-boxing clown Doctor Audi-Yo! This show sensitively explores themes of illness and mortality and the importance of the imagination and wishes that can come true.

Recommended for Ages 6 + our offer applies to performances on Friday 18 May at 7pm and Saturday 19 May at 11:30am.

 

Looking ahead, we have Wilde Creatures – a fantastic journey through some of Oscar Wilde’s most loved children’s stories (including The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose). A live band of travelling musicians bring these stories to life as they choose a new statue for the town square. This production comes to us through one of the premier family theatre companies of the UK, Tall Stories and is recommended for ages 5+. Our offer is available on Saturday 7 July at 10am.

The links above will activate the prices but – if booking for both shows – you might need to refresh your browser to activate the second discount code.

We look forward to seeing lots of LGBTIQ parents and their kids at the Opera House soon.

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Family Pride Wrap Up

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Thank you to everyone that came to Family Pride on Sunday May 6th. This year was huge  with over 700 people coming out to celebrate with the Rainbow Families Community.

Families enjoyed entertainment from local children’s band Beats n Pieces, Larger than Lions, Mary Kiani, and drag queens Hannah Conda and Charisma Bell. There were so many free activities for children, with jumping castles, a rock climbing wall, face painting and Proud to Play’s cricket game. As well as lots of interactive arts and craft activities facilitated by community partners.  

We thank all the community organisations that helped make the day wonderful. Thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Dawson Turco Lawyers, NSW Police, the SES, ACON, Proud to Play, Gleebooks, Social Justice in Earlychildhood, and City of Sydney who provided over 1000 sausages to the crowds.

Family Pride is a day for LGBTIQ parents and their families to get together to celebrate the wonderful people we are, and the beautiful supportive community we belong to. After the difficult year last year, which took a toll on our families, days like Family Pride, and connecting with our community have never been so important.

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We are thrilled to have the ongoing support from our political leaders. Our community values the time our politicians take out of their busy lives to come and celebrate with us. Special thanks to

  • Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Miller

  • Penny Sharpe MLC

  • Jenny Leong MP

  • Alex Greenwich MP

  • Clr Linda Scott

  • Clr Anna York

  • Clr Pauline Lockie

Family Pride would not be possible without the generous support of Commonwealth Bank. This is the second year CommBank has made a contribution towards the costs of the day, and equally importantly offered an army of volunteers to assist at the event. We would also like to thank our official supporters, ACON and City of Sydney.

Check out photos from the day in the Rainbow Families Facebook group.

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Volunteer Profile

This month we are profiling the two volunteers that organise the Penrith Catch Up

Rose and Sharmelle

 

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Tell us about you and your families

My name is Rose and I moved back to Penrith to start our family with my partner Natalia. Our beautiful daughter was born in 2015, and with all the common concerns for new parents, we wanted her to meet other families just like us.

I'm Sharmelle and I grew up in Penrith. I've been working in childcare for 15 years and used to be a musician. I still play guitar and sing to the children at work. I met my partner Nicole 6 years ago. Her son is now 16 and we both planned from the start of our relationship to both have a baby. So now we have two beautiful girls, a one year old and two year old.

 

Tell us about the Penrith catch up

Our first gathering was astonishing, with a great turn out of lovely families with all sorts of backgrounds, the playdate was so successful that we went to dinner to continue hanging out. The timing couldn't be any better, it was around the time the Same Sex Survey was announced and we could share our concerns but most importantly our support to each other.

 

Why did you start the Penrith catch ups

We searched in the community and found established rainbow families groups based in the city and surrounding areas, we joined the groups and while we were willing to travel for the playdates, we felt that the Penrith area needed one too.

 

After joining the Penrith group on Facebook, we volunteered to organise the first gathering of the Penrith Rainbow families and together we have been running the group for about 6 months now.

 

What can people expect when they come along to one of your catch ups

Families with different background, sizes and shapes, but sharing the passion of caring for our families and have fun.

 

Why is it important for you and your children to meet other LGBTIQ families

Rose: For us, meeting with other rainbow families is not only an opportunity to share the struggles and joy of being a parent, but also connect to families like ours.


Sharmelle: I interact with families on a daily basis through my job. So I really want my kids to know there are other families in our community like ours and that we are all the same. I want my family and other rainbow families to feel valued and important. By having our monthly catch ups, this shows support for one another and the daily struggles with having little ones is real, just like everyone else. We need to laugh, we need to cry and we need to lean on each other and that's why I am so grateful for the friendships I have formed from the Penrith rainbow family group.

 

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A New Book for Rainbow Teens

Guest Blogger and author Erin Gough talks about her new book

Amelia Westlake

I’ve written a book for rainbow teens and their friends, featuring two very different girls, and one giant hoax that could change – or ruin – everything.

Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad-girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating.

Will Everhart can’t stand posh people like Harriet, but even she has to admit Harriet's ideas are good – and they’ll keep Will from being expelled. That’s why she teams up with Harriet to create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who can take the credit for a series of provocative pranks at their school. 

But the further Will and Harriet’s hoax goes, the harder it is for the girls to remember they’re sworn enemies – and to keep Amelia Westlake’s true identity hidden. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake – and their feelings for each other – a secret? 

‘Amelia Westlake’ is my second novel – ‘The Flywheel’, which also features a queer romance, was published in 2015. When I was a young adult, there wasn’t much fiction written for my age group that featured non-heterosexual characters. I was trying to work out who I was and what I wanted to be, and I felt this absence keenly. It is therefore important to me to write characters that don’t necessarily comply with sexual or gender norms. I feel the importance of this afresh now that my partner and I have a rainbow family of our own.

Books and Publishing says of Amelia Westlake: “This is a brilliant social satire with a feminist vibe and two strong main characters whose voices alternate telling the story … Gough has created a clever, engaging feminist romp for readers aged 12 and up that is utterly unputdownable.”

I hope ‘Amelia Westlake’ resonates with the Rainbow Families community, and that you enjoy the read!

Erin

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