Who are we?
We have a vision of a community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+) families across the whole of NSW, where each family is included, respected and has value! Rainbow Families is the peak NSW organisation supporting LGBTIQA+ parents and children. As a community organisation run by LGBTIQA+ families, we act as a support network for parents and carers, their children as well as future parents and carers.
The mission of Rainbow Families is to build a community which fosters resiliency by connecting, supporting and empowering LGBTIQA+ families.
What makes a Rainbow family?
A Rainbow family is a same-sex or LGBTIQA+ parented family. At Rainbow Families, we define a Rainbow family as any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex person who has a child or children; or is planning on having a child or children by way of donor insemination (known or unknown), surrogacy (altruistic or commercial), foster care, fostering to adoption, adoption (domestic or international), opposite sex relationship, co-parenting or other means.
What do we do?
We provide support and resources to members of the LGBTIQA+ community so that they and their families can live their best and most colourful lives. We host events that connect LGBTIQA+ families, particularly those that are feeling isolated because of social pressures, financial difficulty or where they live. We advocate on behalf of our community and are a strong and consistent voice for NSW LGBTIQA+ families to address discrimination, raise awareness and promote acceptance. We collaborate with similar organisations from other states to push for change across the nation.
New Rainbow Families are always welcome. Come along, say hi and connect with like-minds at one of our events or find out how you can get involved.
The Rainbow Families Story: Together we sparkle
Like many grassroots organisation, Rainbow Families started with a humble kitchen meeting, wine & pizza, 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 increased 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, NSW lacked from a strong peak, a professional community organisation was missing.
Rainbow Families has its origins in two separate New South Wales same-sex parenting social groups: Rainbow Babies and Kids, which supported predominantly lesbian mums, and Gay Dads NSW that supported predominantly gay dads.
Both these organisations wanted to better support the LGBTIQA+ community as a whole, and it became clear that the best way forward was to band together. In 2014, chaired by Ms Justine Maguire-Scarvelli of Rainbow Babies and Kids and Mr Scott Brunelle of Gay Dads NSW, a committee was set up and a new organisation was born: Rainbow Families.
In 2016, the committee incorporated to become Rainbow Families (you can find our constitution here).
We believe that we are better and stronger when we work together. The committee is not richly diverse and includes trans and gender diverse parents with experience in advocacy, IT, law, fundraising, welfare, marketing, media and social work.
Since then, we’ve continued supporting and being a voice for LGBTIQA+ parents and families. Some of our successes that we’ve fronted or played a significant part in include:
Holding Australia’s first LGBTIQA+ antenatal class;
Creating the ‘Love Makes a Family’ report on issues our community faces when accessing NSW State Government services;
Facilitating Australia’s only LGBTIQA+ playgroups;
Successfully advocating for changes to passport applications to be more inclusive of same-sex parents;
Being part of the winning marriage equality campaign;
Consulting with the NSW Government to make the NSW Blue Book more inclusive of LGBTIQA+ families;
Developing a range of resources and educational groups for parents;
Establishing a children’s resilience program.
Rainbow Families will continue building a resilient, inclusive network of LGBTIQA+ families. We’re very excited to keep growing our community; here’s cheers to our future wins!
Co-Chair of Rainbow Families
Prior to moving to the inner west, Vanessa was an active organiser of Blue Mountains Rainbow Parents coordinating weekend gatherings, playgroups and cooking circles. Professionally, she is a social worker with over twenty years experience in the field of child protection. She has two delightful sons, loves making craft, cooking and running the Bay run.
Matt lives in Marrickville with his husband and two kids. His family was formed through adoption and has recently moved home to Australia from Canada. Mat works in NSW politics and is also a writer. He is looking forward to getting to know other rainbow families and connecting with our wonderful community.
Treasurer of Rainbow Families
Cathy is a mum of two, who lives in Marrickville with her partner and cat, Paulie.
Cathy is passionate about equality, and keeps accidentally getting herself involved as an activist for LGBTIQ people and their families. She used to work in politics, and now works in diversity and inclusion. While completing her Masters, Cathy wrote a thesis that explored issues for gay and lesbian seniors as they aged.
In her spare time Cathy is a Commonwealth registered Marriage Celebrant, and is really looking forward to marriage equality, not just to expand her client base.
She loves Aldi, the Royal Family and leaving her kids with their dads so she can go on holiday.
James is a proud single gay dad of 6-year-old Thomas. James is an active member of the Gay Dads group and has recently joined the Rainbow Families Committee.
Having come out later in life, James is newer than most gay dads to the gay world and values the different perspectives that this gives him and which hopefully translates into greater diversity of views on the Committee. James lives in Surry Hills and works in the city in a commercial role for a large telco. English born and bred James strives to maintain his accent and to ensure Thomas grows up speaking the Queen’s English!
Dror is a proud single dad to a beautiful boy. He works full time as an Operational Risk Manager at the fabulous and equality strong supporter Westpac. Dror became involved with Gay Dads when his son was born and has been coordinating social catch ups for the group for the past 2.5 years. He also volunteered to assist with events and fundraising activities for Rainbow Families.
Dror joined the admin team of Gaydads AU Facebook group in an attempt to enhance Gay Dads interaction nationwide. Dror became a member of the committee in 2018 and is looking forward to strengthening the sense of community and belonging within Rainbow Families.
Cec is a media and entertainment specialist with over 20 years experience. She is the former news editor of Sydney gay street press SX Magazine and former editor of Gay News Network. She is a newsreader for OXLive. She is on the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, a mentor for Out for Sydney and a proud member of Queer Screen. She is the parent of two children, Harper and Mackenzie, and lives with her partner in Newtown. Cec joined the committee in 2015.
Ashley has two young daughters who were born through surrogacy. He is also a known donor for a Lesbian family. Ashley works part-time for Rainbow Families. Ashley has been active within the Gay Dads group since his eldest daughter was born, and enjoys bringing the rainbow families community together.
An active committee member since mid 2015, Bern’s background ranges from event & hospitality management to customer experience and dispute resolution across the banking & finance, insurance and telecommunications industries. A proud, passionate mother and step mum, Bern has a vested interest in ensuring her children grow up in an accepting and loving community. Bern, her partner Jess and their blended family live in the Inner West of Sydney.
By day, Sam leads a disability focussed innovation company, by night she wrangles two mighty monsters alongside her partner Jaie, and occasionally dabbles in tap dancing. Sam is passionate about creating a community where all kinds of diversity are accepted, embraced and celebrated.
Bridget Leigh Muir
Bridget is a pansexual kiwi who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Bridget is one parent of a two parented gender diverse family involving two children and one cat.
Bridget and family have contributed to the All Families resource for trans and gender diverse parents. Bridget has a background in Social Work in both New Zealand and Australia working with children and youth aged 5 to 24 years old.
Bridget is also a trained and accredited volunteer counsellor with organisation, La Leche League International. Bridget and a few close friends also organise a casual social support group for non-transitioning partners. Bridget is passionate about social justice, inclusivity and diversity! And keep very busy by exploring the outdoors, running long distances, and being curious about life!
Secretary of Rainbow Families
Charmaine is married to Anna and mum to three-year-old Annabelle, who takes after her in only ever wearing pink and having a secret sporty streak. The family has been a part of the Rainbow Families playgroup for over a year and Charmaine is now the volunteer coordinator. Each Thursday she puts out paints, toys and offers a warm welcome to regular and new parents and children.
Nicholas is a partner at out loud and proud® LGBTI law firm Dowson Turco Lawyers (DTL). He was formerly an intellectual property lawyer at a top tier Australian law firm and Corporate Counsel at a large international telco. At DTL, Nicholas appears for clients in the Local Court of NSW, the Children’s Court of NSW, the District Court of NSW and the Australian Crime Commission. He also takes carriage of human rights cases including being the lawyer for Alan Rosendale, a gay-bashing victim of the 1980s who believes he was targeted by an organised group of law enforcement officers who engaged in systematic gay hate crimes during that time.
In the wider community, Nicholas is the LGBTI Co-Chair and Executive Committee member at Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Vice President of the New Theatre Newtown and a pro bono lawyer at the NSW Inner City Legal Centre.
Alison lives on the outskirts of Sydney with her three wonderful children and her wife. She currently assists the Rainbow Families committee with IT matters, as well as contributing to the All Families resource for trans and gender diverse parents.
Alison and her wife also started a positive social group for couples who wish to stay together when one member alters their gender identity and/or expression during the relationship, and help organise the Currans Hill Playgroup, and the Macarthur Rainbow Families Group.
Belinda lives in St Peters with her partner Bec and two daughters. She has played an active role in the Rainbow Families community, organising monthly catch ups in the Inner West since 2012. Belinda is an Assistant Principal of a primary school and is passionate about inclusiveness. She joined the committee in 2018 and looks forward to playing an active role in the LGBTQI community.