Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style
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7 Game-Changing Spaces For Parents Around Australia Doing Things Differently

These out-of-the-box services support families in cool and unique ways.

Finding community and the so-called “village” can be challenging after having a baby. In Australia, new mothers are typically assigned to a postcode-based mother’s groups. Around the one-week mark, a community nurse will conduct a home visit to weigh the baby, ask the mum standard checklist questions, and ensure home safety. This is followed by a six-week check-up for mum and bub, including bub’s first vaccinations and a general health assessment conducted by an obstetrician or midwife for mum. That’s it. 

For dads, there is no official support, father’s groups, or structured systems in place to help them transition to parenthood. They are left to seek out resources and support on their own.

Even within assigned mother’s groups, there is no guarantee you’ll gel with the women or forge connections. While some mums benefit greatly from these groups, it can feel like a roll-of-the-dice experience for others.

And that’s just a snapshot of early parenting. Factor in the logistical challenges of returning to work with a young baby or navigating suitable support networks for children with additional needs, and it’s fair to say there are a lot of spaces in the parenting field that need a complete and utter shake-up. The good news is these places exist; you just have to know where to find them. 

From co-working crèches that allow mothers to continue pursuing career goals while being close to their baby to dad’s groups connecting new fathers to boundary-pushing initiatives for children on the autism spectrum, here are the game-changing spaces for parents in Australia that are redefining traditional norms and addressing the diverse needs of modern families.

“We’re seeing a fundamental shift in society’s expectations for this period in a mother’s life — women want to pursue their careers or grow their businesses and be close to their children. And that’s exactly what BubbaDesk provides."

How BubbaDesk allows new mums to be in two places at once

When new mothers first return to their jobs after parental leave, they often wish they could be in two places at once (at work and with their baby). Enter BubbaDesk, a NSW-based service that empowers parents to do just that. 

Lauren Perrett, founder and director of BubbaDesk, embarked on a mission to revolutionise childcare and work arrangements based on her own challenges as a new mum. “BubbaDesk was born from my own experiences navigating the return to work season of my life following the birth of my first son, Charles.” Facing the dilemma of high nanny costs and daycare fees, Lauren sought a solution that allowed her to remain close to her son while pursuing her career aspirations.

BubbaDesk provides co-working spaces with dedicated areas for babies (think dark sleep rooms with white noise, open-play areas, and dress-ups galore) and skilled educators to look after the babies while their parents work nearby. Lauren believes this service fills a crucial gap in the workforce, where more women are pursuing professional careers and entrepreneurship while seeking a nurturing environment for their children. It also means breastfeeding mums can simply pop next door to feed their babies whenever they need. 

“We’re seeing a fundamental shift in society’s expectations for this period in a mother’s life women want to pursue their careers or grow their businesses and be close to their children. And that’s exactly what BubbaDesk provides,” Lauren explains. 

With four centres in NSW (St Leonards, Erina, Caringbah, and Wollongong), Lauren has plans to expand the business interstate so they can keep supporting as many working mums as possible during this critical phase of their life.  

BubbaDesk offers flexible membership options, including subscriptions, casual days, half days, and one-off days catering to varying family needs. It’s also tax-deductible, making it a compelling choice for families seeking a supportive and financially viable childcare solution.

The feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing deep gratitude for the peace of mind and convenience BubbaDesk gives their families. “As a member very eloquently said to me recently, ‘BubbaDesk has created an environment that is hard to express in words. As with so much of what it is to be a parent, it’s a feeling. And that feeling you get when you know something is right for you and your child’s journey,’” Lauren shares. 

BubbaDesk is not just a service; it represents a social shift towards more inclusive and supportive work environments that prioritise career growth and family values. “We’re building a future that allows parents to have that work-life balance,” Lauren admits.

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From Day One, photographed by Alice Acton

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From Day One, photographed by Alice Acton

From Day One is a purpose-built space for new mothers

Mother’s groups can be hit and miss. If you don’t find the right fit, new mums often lack a group of women to connect with and can feel alone. But what if this space was given a shake-up? What if an entire centre was dedicated to supporting new mums and connecting them to the community? 

From Day One in Prahran, Melbourne, was founded by Ariel Bryant and Keshia Hutchens after they both struggled with feeling isolated during their respective maternity leave periods. “We dreamt of a place like this when we went through postpartum, and after we both went through it for a third time, we were inspired to make it. We still craved that connection and support but felt that the help dwindled. Once we started speaking with others, we quickly realised we weren’t alone,” Keshia and Ariel ​​explain.

The co-founders spent two years developing the concept, speaking to mothers in various stages of their parenting journey who helped shape the centre. “The feedback we got was how isolating early motherhood can be despite always having someone around you! We spoke to a lot of second-time, third-time (and beyond) mums who felt their experiences lacked the level of support that they received the first time and that they thought the help dwindled as there was almost this ‘you’ve got this’ mentality, having been through it all before,” the co-founders share.

The centre is a one-of-a-kind space for mums who want to meet like-minded women while gaining access to the best information and experts out there. You can join a mother’s group, go to a baby first-aid class, take a return-to-work masterclass, or attend a session with a sleep consultant, stylist, psychologist, nutritionist, counsellor, or lactation consultant. It’s a beautiful, purpose-built drop-in space with comfortable feeding and changing facilities. Think of it like the world’s best-ever parenting room on steroids, with parental well-being and community building front of mind. 

Various offerings are provided, including an in-house, bespoke mother’s group that matches you with first-time, second-time, or third-time mums and runs for ten weeks and is $35 per session, masterclasses that are $30 for non-members and $24 for members, and memberships that are $25 per week. The overall goal is for From Day One to become a home away from home for new mums. 

“We want the space to become the go-to place for community building and education in the first year of life. We aim to change parents’ perspectives about proactively preparing for postpartum and help them connect with excellent resources. We would love to expand to multiple locations across Australia, allowing more parents access to a safe, welcoming space in that first year of life. The possibilities are endless,” the co-founders beam of their vision for the future.

Ocean Heroes uses the power of water to support kids on the autism spectrum

Being near the ocean has an undeniable energy. Even better is the pure joy of surfing a wave. It’s the closest feeling you’ll ever get to flying. 

When former personal trainer Luke Hallam noticed a significant gap in access to outdoor experiences, particularly beach activities, among neurodiverse children in Australia, he was inspired to create Ocean Heroes. Founded in 2016 by Luke, Sam Moyle, and Tom Johnston, Ocean Heroes runs free surfing experiences for kids aged 6-16 on the autism spectrum to help build their self-confidence and make friends while learning to master a fun new skill. 

“In Australia, more than 80% of our population lives within 50km of the coastline… when I ask my clients and their families if they ever went to the beach, all 50 of them said they didn’t, and some of them had never even set foot on the sand,” Luke reveals. 

Since its humble beginnings seven years ago, Ocean Heroes has grown from a small event at Leighton Beach with 25 participants to a nationwide program catering to thousands. The Surf Experience program, funded through the NDIS, provides regular ocean access and tailored experiences to neurodiverse children in Perth, aligning with their personal goals.

Luke says the transformative impact that surfing has on children cannot be underestimated. “The opportunity to be in the ocean, trying something different, fun, and to some levels an extreme experience is a real boundary-pusher for our participants,” he tells THE INARRA

One of the initiative’s most rewarding outcomes is the sense of community it fosters among families, especially for parents who can connect with other parents in similar situations. “An unexpected byproduct of our programs is the community built around them. We started to notice families connecting early on in our journey, and now we get requests from families to have their kids all surf at the same time because they have formed friendships outside of our events,” he says. 

“Parents are just super grateful for the opportunity for their kid to do something ‘normal’ or ‘Australian’ like access the ocean and have a go at surfing,” Luke notes. 

There are permanent programs in NSW and WA and pop-up weekends in Queensland and Victoria. “Our free events are and always will be free,” Luke insists. This commitment underscores the organisation’s mission to provide inclusive outdoor experiences regardless of socioeconomic background.

Luke’s vision extends beyond the waves, aiming to expand Ocean Heroes’ impact across Australia and beyond, ensuring that everyone can experience the ocean’s joy and freedom.

"The opportunity to be in the ocean, trying something different, fun, and to some levels an extreme experience is a real boundary-pusher for our participants. Parents are just super grateful for the opportunity for their kid to do something 'normal' or 'Australian' like access the ocean and have a go at surfing."

Dad’s Group makes sure no new fathers are left behind

When Thomas Docking welcomed his first child in 2014, he started searching for dad’s groups in his area to connect with other men going through the same thing. He was shocked at how little support there was for dads, so he decided to change that.

“It started as an idea and then a project that we trialled and tested and sought feedback and expert advice on. Many years later, we are a national program with a dedicated team ready to help new fathers and families navigate the unknowns of parenthood,” Thomas explains of the evolution of Dad’s Group

The concept is simple. As Thomas puts it, it’s about “dads. their kids. Coffee. And maybe a playground” to give men connection, conversations, and support with their peers. The overall mission is to change the culture around fatherhood and normalise dads who share the load. 

“Dad’s Group has several programs we co-design and deliver with hospitals, councils, and NGOs, as well as one we provide online. A dad can join any group and meet other dads and their children.” 

“Dads can also join our mailing list, attend online events we host weekly, or get direct support from our support partners and services. Finally, they can become local ambassadors and host local events with their mates, family, and friends,” Thomas shares. 

With funded programs in Victoria and Queensland and volunteer groups in every other state, the Dad’s Group movement is filling in the gaps for isolated and anxious new dads around the country with their meet-ups and impressive offerings of expert advice. 

“We work with maternal child health experts, antenatal class nurses, community organisations, and councils to provide places and safe spaces for fathers to connect around the fatherhood journey. We work to build a strength-based approach to equitable parenting partnerships by connecting with the people whom the health system has unintentionally overlooked,” Thomas says.

Thomas says the feedback from dads has been great. “Dads who actively participate in our programs have become avid supporters and change agents for their communities. They love Dad’s Group because it represents a community of people like them where they feel safe, understood, and connected,” he tells us. 

“Importantly, we find mums are often our biggest fans as they benefit significantly from their highly engaged and intentional partners who are being the best they can be as partners, fathers, and caregivers.”

Co-Work Crèche is challenging traditional childcare setups for the better

It’s the type of revolutionary idea that has parents exclaiming, “I wish this existed when my kids were little!” 

Co-Work Crèche opened at the start of 2024 in Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. It is a co-working space designed for parents who can work from home or are self-employed business owners. Parents can set up shop in their light, bright, open-plan co-working space (complete with 24-inch monitors and private meeting rooms) while their little ones are close by in the same building being looked after by experienced early childhood educators. The childcare space has two sleep rooms, a baby room for little ones under 12 months, a large playroom, and an eating/kitchenette area. 

“We cater for up to 20 children each day, so the environment is welcoming and not too overstimulating. We aren’t a childcare centre that operates with 100+ children each day — we are designed to be a small, inviting, and safe space for children who have often not experienced daycare and may take some time to adjust to leaving mum or dad,” director Melody Bouffler explains of their more bespoke style of care. 

Melody says she was inspired to launch the service when she returned to work as a solicitor after having her son. “The idea for the space came from my struggles trying to balance a busy legal career while also being present and able to care for my son, who is now one,” she reflects. 

With the rising cost of living and the pressure for both parents to return to work far earlier than they have in the past, Melody believes that more spaces like Co-Work Crèche will be the way forward to help working parents, especially mothers, continue to work while being close to their babies. 

“Mums can keep breastfeeding without experiencing the guilt of sending their children to daycare at such an early age. It is such a needed set-up, and we hope to continue expanding across Australia to bring the concept to all parents,” she tells THE INARRA

Another huge impact is that offerings such as Co-Work Crèche help bridge the gender pay gap. “Studies analysing the pay gap between men and women all show that leaving the workforce for an extended period results in women earning far less long-term and less likely to achieve leadership positions. We allow mothers to continue meeting their work goals while spending time with their young children in a supportive environment.”

As for the costs, the expenses can be tax deductible if you use the co-working space for business purposes. 

“For parents earning over $200,000 per annum, our centre can be more cost-effective than traditional daycare. Our website has a video explaining the breakdown of costs and tax deductions. Our pricing is $95 plus GST for a half-day or $160 + GST for a full eight-hour day. Members receive a discount on the daily rate if they want to book every week ($150 + GST). We also do ten-session casual packs with an 11th session free,” Melody explains the fee structure. 

Adelaide Mums and Babies Clinic is supporting families through holistic, empathetic care

In the heart of Rose Park, South Australia, the Adelaide Mums and Bubs Clinic stands as a beacon of support and empowerment for new parents. Founded by Dr. Briony Andrew and Dr. Rhiannon Smith, the clinic offers a holistic blend of medical expertise, empathy, and evidence-based care that transforms the landscape of maternal and infant health.

“Our clinic is passionate about providing exceptional quality healthcare to women and children,” Dr. Briony Andrew says. 

The clinic’s team of all-female GPs is trained in Neuroprotective Developmental Care (NDC), a groundbreaking approach pioneered by Dr. Pamela Douglas. They offer tailored care to new families that goes beyond traditional measures. From breastfeeding problems to unsettled infant behaviour, baby sleep, maternal mental health problems, antenatal care, and antenatal education, the clinic covers the whole gamut of issues new mums and babies may face.

“The majority of us are also lactation consultants. Most of us have additional qualifications in obstetrics, gynaecology, or paediatrics. We can offer true mother-baby care within one consult as we can pull the various disciplines together to find solutions for the family. We are not focused on just the baby or the mother,” Dr. Andrew points out. 

The practice also lets patients book long appointments, or telehealth consults if getting out the door is too hard with a baby in tow, so no matter what, they drill down and troubleshoot the problem. 

Reflecting on her own experience, Dr. Andrew recalls the difficulties she experienced during her early parenting journey. “When we had our first babies, we suddenly realised how hard it was to get high-quality breastfeeding support,” she shares. This personal struggle became the driving force behind creating a clinic that addresses medical needs and provides comprehensive support and education to parents.

Education also plays a crucial role in empowering parents, and the clinic holds several classes and workshops, including antenatal breastfeeding education, bringing baby home classes, and a parents’ group run by NDC Educator and Provider Jayne Pigou to arm families with practical tools and realistic expectations for the early months of parenthood.

“The parents’ group is a safe space for women to discuss birth trauma, the difficulties they may have faced being parents, and how to manage conflicting advice. Jayne helps with education around normal infant sleep, focusing on getting out and about with their babies, breastfeeding and bottle feeding advice, self-care, and connection. More often than not, the attendees form a close bond. They have found women who want to parent the same way they do. They have extended their village and found their support network. This is exactly what we wanted to create,” Dr. Andrew beams of the connections formed through their services. 

The team’s overall vision for Adelaide Mums and Bubs is to continue to connect other parents through their services while challenging conventional healthcare models. “We aim to empower women and offer parents ways to care for their babies that align with their values. There are no other clinics like ours in South Australia,” Dr. Andrew points out. 

The Kidly app helps parents unearth amazing activities specific to their child’s passions

“What’s something fun I can do with the kids today?” It’s a question we ask ourselves time and time again because sometimes there’s nothing better than mixing up your usual go-to park or playcentre and trying a new activity in your area. But how do you even find these things? That’s where the Kidly app enters the equation. 

Founded by Anna Korol and Aaron Deutsch, Kidly is changing how parents discover and book activities for their children across Sydney. This innovative platform offers a seamless experience and makes finding and booking those unicorn activities a breeze. 

“Our motivation behind launching Kidly was to create a convenient platform that connects families with a diverse range of fun and enriching activities for their children. The app is free on mobile and desktops, allowing parents to search for activities based on preferences and location easily. You can book directly through the app and invite friends to join in the fun,” Anna says. 

Kidly’s offerings span five key categories: term classes, casual classes, birthday parties, entertainment, and school holiday programs. “We’re currently focused on categories that encompass a diverse range of options that cater to the most popular things parents look for when searching for activities for their children,” the co-founder tells THE INARRA

From art and craft workshops to sports classes, music lessons, coding workshops, and outdoor adventures like nature walks and parkour sessions, Kidly is committed to doing all the leg work for you. All you have to do is log on and find something relevant to your child’s interests and age group.

Anna and her team understand the importance of building meaningful connections within the community. “To achieve this, we’ve implemented several strategies within our community hub,” Anna explains. 

Kidly facilitates parent networking events and group activities where families can participate and provides a platform for sharing experiences, tips, and recommendations. “Our goal is to create a supportive and inclusive community where parents can connect, share, and learn from each other,” Anna reveals. 

While currently operating in Sydney, Kidly has ambitious expansion plans. “Our goal is to bring Kidly to more cities and communities across Australia,” Anna shares, envisioning nationwide access to a broader spectrum of activities and opportunities for kids.

 

Words by Bella Brennan

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