I've had a lot of people ask me about the other state finalists who were also in Sydney for the national Mother of the Year announcement. I keep directing people to the Barnados Mother of the Year website to read about the other Mums but realise that eventually the page won't be there, so thought I would share why the other Mums were their state finalists on my blog, so I've always got it.
At the announcement they gave out lovely programs for the day which had a little bit about each of us. They are a lovely keepsake.
This is what Barnados put up on their website - it's a shorter version of each nomination that was sent in. All photos were taken by Magdelena Photography.
Leanne Robson - from Queensland (the national MOTY)
Leanne Robson has put up her hand for the really tough gigs in life.
The early childhood teacher has successfully raised two children to
adulthood, including an intellectually impaired daughter, who also
suffers from heart defects. Additionally, for the past eight years she
has dedicated her life to being the care‐giver to three children with
Leanne was nominated by her husband Geoff, a
police officer who works a 24‐hour rotational shift, for always being on
call for her children and family. “Leanne’s day regularly starts at
5am, with dirty nappies and tantrums, and ends after 9pm, once school
lunches are prepared for the next day and the house is put back
together,” says Geoff. “On top of this, she is a great support for me,
her elderly widowed mother, and her recently widowed sister.”
twice been nominated for foster carer excellence awards and works
closely with the department of child safety. She is a tireless advocate
for the very best care for the three boys and is determined to give them
the very best possible start in life. “She is an excellent mother and
wife and would be embarrassed as all heck if she knew she was
nominated,” Geoff says.
Chauntell McNamara - from the Australian Capital Territory
Chauntell McNamara’s heart knows no limits. Despite her long battle
with IVF and the loss of her precious son, Jacob, who was stillborn,
Chauntell chose to turn her grief into a gift for other children in need
of love and care. Today Chauntell is the proud mother of three
“blessings”, one biological and two adopted who came to her through the
foster care system, seven years ago. She also provides emergency foster
care of babies and is a passionate advocate for local children of asylum
seekers, volunteering her time and teaching skills at an after school
program. Chauntell is nominated by her friend Leilah Franklin‐Ayton, 34.
“Chauntell opened her own home to me and my daughter when I was a new
mum with no family in town, and gave us a home and unconditional support
as we slowly found our feet,” says Leilah. “She has also raised
thousands of dollars for local Canberran charities that support children
at risk and young mothers. So many of the mums in our community are
great mums because of the support they’ve been given by Chauntell,”
Chauntelle is in the black.
Sidona Hodge - from New South Wales
Sidona Hodge is living proof that history doesn’t have to repeat –
especially when there’s an amazing mum determined to write a better
outcome. Growing up in poor conditions, surrounded by mental health
issues, domestic violence and sexual abuse, Sidona determined to give
her own kids – and others in need – a better childhood and future.
proud indigenous mother of three adult children, and grandmother of
three, has fostered over 20 indigenous children and currently has seven
under the age of 15 years in her care. Sidona was nominated for
Barnardos Mother of the Year by her daughter, Alison, 24, who admires
her mum for making a difference to children in need. “Mum has a diploma
in welfare and such a great understanding of how hard childhood can be,
and she wants to make a positive difference in a child’s life. She wants
to BE that difference,” Says Alison. “She is that mum that would give a
child everything and be content knowing they had what they needed even
if she had nothing.
She puts all her children first ‐ foster children
and grandchildren, even the neighbours’ kids!” While kin care and
keeping families and siblings together is Sidona’s priority and passion,
any child that stays at Aunty Sidona’s house is considered part of the
family. Sidona is considered a role model and mentor in her community
and is often quoted as saying that the many kids in her life keep her
Jenne Roberts - from the Northern Territory
20 years ago Jenne Roberts made the big decision to have a child on
her own. She knew she had a lot of love to give and didn’t want to miss
out on the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. Her
daughter Saveeta, now 17, has nominated Jenne as thanks for her
unconditional love and for helping her through tough times and mental
“Mum has supported me through my depression, suicide
attempts, therapy and recovery and she has always put me first, making
sure that I am cared for even when she is completely exhausted,” Saveeta
says. “Even though she is a single parent she has never ever failed to
provide for our little family and she works so hard and inspires me to
work hard as well and to push myself in school and life. “I feel
completely accepted by my Mum and I know that not everyone is lucky
enough to feel that way.”
Jenne has also worked in Cambodia (where
Saveeta grew up) Burma, Vietnam and other South East Asian countries
creating policy for the prevention and treatment of HIVAids and on other
public and sexual health projects.
Rachel Mayes - from South Australia
Rachel Mayes was already a busy mum of six – four biological children
and two stepchildren – when her partner’s ex‐partner passed away,
leaving three young girl orphans. Determined to keep the sisters
together, Rachel and her partner became legal guardians of the three
girls, two years ago.
Today Rachel is an even busier mum of nine
children and wouldn’t have it any other way. Running the kids around to
dance lessons or to work, organizing camping trips for the whole clan,
or helping her 13‐year‐old manage her diabetes – it’s all part of the
fabric of life in her family of 12. “What stands out the most to me is
the fact that if you didn’t know the situation you would never know that
they were not all her biological children,” Natalie says. “The love she
has for each and every one of those children is beautiful. “I’d just
like to show Rachel what a great job she does and how proud I am of
Anne Caldwell - from Western Australia
Anne Caldwell raised her two children according to the Caldwell
Creed: Try, every day, to do something nice for family, friends, a
neighbour, a child, a stranger and an animal and you’ll live a happy
life. Despite living below the poverty line, and experiencing the stress
of the family court system, Anne instilled in her children the
importance of character, above all else.
Today her two adult children
call her ‘The Energiser Bunny Mummy’ because she never stops caring for
others. Anne is nominated by her daughter Tammy‐Anne, 26, who credits
her and her brother’s bright futures to their mother’s generous,
selfless and loving nature. “Statistically speaking there’s a good
chance we would have ‘poor outcomes across a range of dimensions of
life’ and ‘entrenched disadvantage’. But thanks to our amazingly strong,
resilient caring, loving, thoughtful, talented, creative mother we had
one of the happiest, best, most interesting childhoods I can imagine,”
Tammy‐ Anne says.
Tammy‐Anne and her brother were home schooled for many
years, and now have two university degrees each. “Mum taught my brother
and I about everything from animal care mechanics and bush survival
skills to cooking etiquette and fashion sense. Mum has instilled in us
both a deep awareness that you can achieve anything if you believe you
can and are prepared to work hard to make it come true. “Because of Mum
we are comfortable standing up for ourselves and for what is right and
good in this world. As I say to my Mum: I wouldn’t be me without you.”
Dreena Lawrence‐Gray - from Victoria
Dreena Lawrence‐Gray was a single mum who already had a “lively,
rebellious teenager” when she made the extraordinary decision to invite
another one into her home. Lana Guest, then 17, was a trouble friend of
her daughter’s. Born to heroin‐addicted parents, Lana was just 2 years
old when her father died and her mother abandoned her to a life of
mental, physical and sexual abuse. Lana, now 22, has nominated Dreena
for Barnardos Mother of the Year for choosing to take her in and look
after her as one of her own – baggage and all.
“I met Dreena when I was
17 after befriending her daughter, Rijana, who I had met out and about
while I was living part time with my grandparents and part time on
friends’ couches,” Lana says. “I was also struggling from drug addiction
and had just dropped out of school. I started spending more time with
Rijana and Dreena asked me one day if I wanted to move in. “I initially
felt like a burden and wasn’t too sure but after much consideration I
decided to move in and it turned my life around. Dreena took me in and
made me feel like I was a part of the family and to this day I introduce
her as my mother.”
Under Dreena’s watchful eye, Lana cleaned up her
act, got a job and discovered the simple joy of family. “Dreena has
opened so many doors for me and I hold her responsible for the positive
changes I made to my life. Without Dreena’s huge generous heart and her
beautiful family I would not be the person I am today ‐ I might not even
be here today at all. “I am eternally grateful.”
and this is what was written about me:
As a mother and wife, Lisa King has endured unbearable hardship and
loss but continues to be the rock of her family, and an inspiration to
mothers from all walks of life. Lisa and her husband Aaron are parents
to four boys: Jalen, Noah (who was born with a condition called
Hydranencephaly), Harri and Kobe. Noah’s brain condition left him with
the mental capacity of a three‐month‐old and a lifespan of just a few
However, due to the love and positivity of both parents, and the
fulltime care of his school teacher‐trained mum Lisa, Noah made it to
his 10th birthday before his tired body gave out. Just as the family
began to cope with the loss of their “little monkey”, tragedy struck
again – at just 39, Aaron suffered a fatal heart attack.
wondered how Lisa would cope with this double tragedy,” says Reeve
McLennan, Lisa’s friend and nominator for Barnardos Mother of the Year.
“She has however continued to be inspirational. Lisa is always upbeat
and positive and thinks of others. Even while she had Noah she spent
time with a family based care group that took families with disabled
children on outings.”
Lisa is also a regular blogger and has inspired
many people around the world with how she has remained positive
throughout her ordeals and has twice been voted Australian Mum Blogger
of the Year.
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
Because my brother Chrish (Christian) lives in Sydney we try to go up at least once a year, whenever we can get cheap flights. A few months ago some really cheap flights came up, so I booked some tickets so that we could have a weekend away, and could also go to a good AFL game while we were there. I was hoping to go to a Hawks game, but the flights weren't cheap for that weekend.
I was telling my EAL students at school that I was going back to Sydney for the weekend and one of them said 'lots of money for plane?'. I told him it does cost a lot of money to go on the plane and then he said 'you have lots of money!?' which made me laugh. I told him I didn't have any money now, because I had been going to Sydney too much!
Unfortunately the weekend I planned in Sydney turned out that the weekend I planned away, fell the weekend after the national Mother of the Year announcement, so it meant we would be going to Sydney two weekends in a row. Mum stayed the week in Sydney with Chrish after the Mother of the Year announcement. I shouldn't complain because I know how lucky we are to go to Sydney so often, but we were still all feeling really tired from last weekend.
We headed back up to Sydney on Thursday night. On Friday we caught the train into the city.
Kirribilli House from the water (the big yellow house on the right) and laughed again about the boys rolling down the hills in the front of the house.
It was a beautiful day, but just a little breezy.
That was until the ferocious seagulls starting stealing food right out of our hands! I was screaming and Mum caught this hilarious (and very ugly!) photo of me after a seagull came and pinched some chicken straight out of my kebab!
We were excited to find King Street in the city!
The Lindt cafe is right across the road from channel 7 and Harri got very emotional as he thought about the seige and deaths that happened there last year. He said he was feeling scared, and I didn't want him to walk away from there still feeling scared, so we decided to go inside to buy some chocolate.
Tasmanian Mother of the Year was a $300 voucher from Simone Perele. We don't have any of their stores in Tassie, so I was glad I could go and choose some things myself, rather than just ordering them over the phone. I felt very spoiled being able to spend up big without feeling guilty about it!
La Perouse and went there before we flew home. When I looked back at my old blog posts I realised that we were in Sydney for the same weekend last year.