Author: PakMag Contributor

Bec and Murray pose for photoshoot with little oscar as a baby, smiling at him while Bec holds him

The Fight for Life: Premature Baby Oscar Murray

Bec and Dean Murray were just a ‘normal’ South Australian couple who were expecting a baby – Little Oscar Murray. They had no idea he would be a premature baby and no idea of how their lives were about to change.

Sunday 26 July 2015 started off as any other day. It was calm at home as a pregnant Bec slept, and there was no cause for any concern. However, things took a quick turn as the day went on.

“I had woken up that morning with a slight pain in my back. Initially I thought it must have just been the way I slept, so didn’t think too much more about it. Then we had friends over for lunch, and by the time they left I was in a lot of pain. I just couldn’t get comfortable – I tried to lie down and have a shower but the back pain just seemed to get worse. My husband Dean told me to ring my Obstetrician so I eventually did, but got no answer. I then rang the local hospital where I was planning to deliver the baby and they told me that I needed to head into the Women’s and Children’s Hospital immediately. I just assumed this was protocol – that they’d check me over and then I would be on my way back home. However, once we arrived at the hospital it was evident things were moving along quite quickly.”

Bec and Dean received news that they were not prepared for.

“They checked me, said I was 3cms dilated already, and that I would be having the baby prematurely by 3am the next morning. I burst into tears – I was scared, in denial and definitely not ready to have a baby yet. But things just had to carry on. They gave me a steroid shot to help baby’s lungs, something to help slow the contractions, and then took me straight up to the delivery suite. Dean was taken for a tour of the NICU. Then, we waited.”

“The next morning we still didn’t have a baby. I was relieved and thought that meant I could go home…ha, no chance of that! They moved me again to the Antenatal Ward and told me to rest. 24 hours after I arrived at the hospital, I was given another steroid injection and had a tour of the NICU – which was such an eye opener (but I was still in denial!). Things had settled down and Dean went home on the Monday night. We weren’t as stressed. But of course, when I woke on Tuesday, I was having contractions again.”

“I called the nurses and the Ob checked me over. That’s when I found out I was 5cms dilated and going to have the baby.”

“I needed to have an Emergency Caesarean as baby was in a breech position. As hospital staff prepped me I called Dean and let him know. As soon as he arrived I was ready to go, but I have never been more petrified in my whole life! At 11.41am on Tuesday 28th July 2015 at 29+2 weeks we welcomed Oscar Hamish into the world weighing a tiny 1220g. I immediately thought the worst as he didn’t make a sound, but once they carried him over to me I felt so much relief. He was tiny but perfect! They took him to the NICU where he got settled in his new home.”

“On day 3 I was finally allowed to have my first cuddle and he was just precious! Leaving the hospital to go home on day 5 was definitely the hardest part.”

“It was completely gut wrenching, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I can’t even describe it but it was awful.”

“Like every prem journey it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Oscar – he was born with an inguinal hernia and needed it operated on before he left hospital. He also had severe reflux which didn’t make the whole feeding thing easy, as he vomited constantly. I also got mastitis a number of times from expressing which ended up with the hospital admitting me and giving me IV antibiotics several times as well”.  

The road ahead

After 77 days in hospital and on his due date – 12th October – Oscar came home. With the feeling of complete joy was also the feeling of anxiety. Oscar had been on monitors 24/7 for the past 11 weeks. It was daunting but over time we adjusted. When he left hospital, it became apparent that Oscar was choking on his milk and he even turned blue a couple of times. We took him back to his Neonatologist who referred him to a Gastroenterologist. They then performed a number of tests on Oscar. He was aspirating on his milk so he needed to have moderate thickener in his liquids. It was like clag glue!”

“Just after his 3rd birthday Oscar was able to come off the thickener and now drinks liquids like everyone else. Oscar turned 5 a couple of months ago and will start school next year! He stills takes medication for his reflux every morning and has asthma, but he is thriving. He meets all of his milestones and is becoming a confident, determined young man. We are so proud of him.”

Bec and Dean will be taking part in the Walk for Prems 2020 virtual event – an annual fundraiser for Life’s Little Treasures and awareness-spreading event.

Read more about Virtual Walk for Prems 2020 here. 

Learn more about the difficulties faced by premature babies here. 




Oscar Murray climbs through playing tunnel as child, smiling at camera Oscar outside, backpack on, smiling at camera with thumbs up Oscar as a tiny baby on Bec's chest sleeping while they're in hospital Oscar in special machine sleeping, hospital equipment on and around him,









Young girl in halloween costume does scary pose in front of orange background with the words 'lets get sppoky'

Staying Safe While In the Spooky Spirit

Whilst we all love a good scare and enjoy the kooky, spooky and altogether ooky-ness of Halloween, the safety of children is paramount. Although not everyone celebrates Halloween, it is becoming increasingly popular to take your monsters and mummies out on the streets, demanding sweet treats!

To help you indicate whether you would enjoy a knock on the door come October 31, the Queensland Police Service has created these handy posters which you can use to thwart the witches and wizards or invite them in!

You can download a colour copy of the trick or treaters welcome here poster here, or a black and white copy here.

You can also download a copy of the no thanks poster here.

To make sure your Halloween doesn’t become a nightmare, trick or treaters should:

  • Be accompanied by an adult monster at all times (or a responsible witch, ghost or vampire);
  • Always walk, not run, between houses and stick to the footpath rather than the road;
  • Wear bright colours to enhance your visibility to passing motorists;
  • Never enter a stranger’s house, even if they have invited you in after knocking on their door;
  • Consider joining your friends on a neighbourhood adventure – there is safety in numbers for little witches and ghouls.
  • Trick or treating late into the night is very scary. Head home at a reasonable time and dig into your treats.

Current COVID restrictions in Queensland have relaxed. As such, locals can expect to be allowed to trick or treat provided they follow the health advice set out by the Queensland government.

COVID-safe tips if you plan to hand out treats

  • If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 over Halloween, stay home, don’t receive Halloween visitors and get tested immediately
  • If you are self-isolating, don’t answer the door to trick-or-treaters
  • Make it a front-yard event, not at the front-door of your house. Keep your celebrations outdoors and get creative in decorating the front yard
  • Only hand out individually wrapped treats 
  • Don’t use communal lolly bowls. Consider other ways of distributing treats such as hanging them individually on your fence, front gate or up your driveway
  • Offer hand sanitiser at your front gate or fence
  • You may wish to avoid people knocking on your door by putting up a sign that says “We are home but due to COVID-19, we are distancing. Please take one, Happy Halloween”
  • Remember, you can only have 30 people on your property at one time.

COVID-safe tips if you plan to trick-or-treat

  • If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 this Halloween, stay home and give trick-or-treating a miss this year. Get tested immediately
  • Keep it local by staying in your suburb rather than going to well-known “treat streets” that attract crowds
  • Celebrate outside, don’t go to people’s front door
  • Stay in small household groups (for example a supervising adult and children from the same household) rather than groups of young people together. Remember, no more than 20 people can gather outside in a public place
  • Stay 1.5 meters away from people you don’t live with
  • Only take treats that are individually wrapped
  • Use a disposable bag to collect your treats, and dispose of it appropriately afterwards
  • Don’t share your treats with others from different households
  • Don’t share costumes or costume face masks
  • Carry hand sanitiser with you and use it often, especially after touching common surfaces.

Be Safe and Happy Halloween!

Say BOO & Scary On! – Smithfield and PakMag’s epic Halloween Competition 

Start your spooky celebrations with Smithfield Shopping Centre & Pakmag!

Pop into the centre in your best Halloween costume on Saturday 31st October, capture your spooky selfie at our Haunt Wall and instantly win a free craft bag.* Share it on Instagram using #smithfieldshoppingcentre #pakmag to enter in our Best Dressed competition. Our top 3 best dressed voted by the public will each win** a Family Super Saver Fun Pass, valued at $105.00 each!

Learn more on this event’s Facebook Page. 







Close up of child's leg and foot, standing on log outdoors

5 Nature Play Ideas for Young Children

As a parent you’ve probably heard plenty about nature play. But, you may not be aware of how to go about getting your children playing in nature or even the benefits.

One of the first things your child will notice when they start to play outside is what’s around them – trees, plants, birds, insects, dirt and so on. But there’s a bit more to nature play than just looking around. Nature play is all about exploring and engaging with their natural environment as well as experiencing different forms of that environment. This means touching and interacting in a way that complements their natural play.

Playing outdoors is important for a range of skills including creativity, problem solving, hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. The nature play side provides the stimulation children need to develop their senses – seeing, hearing, touching and smelling. Time outdoors playing increases physical activity, healthy development and overall wellbeing. If you have a super active child, it will also help them get some of that excess energy out.

Before we get onto some great nature play ideas, let’s explore what a natural area looks like. It’s a good idea to keep in mind that you don’t need to have all these areas at home – if you look around your local area, there’s a good chance these places already exist.

An area that is best for nature play including elements like:

Gardens where you can plant flowers and vegetables
• Sandpits
• Areas to dig
• Playing with natural items such as gum nuts, branches, and stones
• Pebble pits
• Flowers that can be picked and smelt
• Plants that encourage insects like butterflies and animals like birds
• Trees with shade
• Water play areas

Nature Play Ideas

There are so many great nature play ideas out there, specifically that meet the needs of younger children. These are some of the best that we’ve discovered children love.

Mud Pie Kitchen

Have you heard of wombat stew? All the bush animals trick the dingo into using mud, feathers, gumnuts and more in his stew to save their wombat friend. A mud pie kitchen allows your child to create their own version of “wombat stew”.

Outdoor play kitchens are popular, but you truly don’t need one for this activity. All you really need is a bowl or two, one for collecting and one for mixing, a range of “ingredients” such as leaves, feathers, flowers, sand, dirt – whatever you can find. And then it’s simply a matter of adding water. This is such a fun and imaginative way for children to get amongst nature.

Rock Painting

This is such a simple yet fun activity for children of any age. Collect some stones, pull out the paint and let your children create their own “rock monsters”. It’s a great way to explore the garden and then sit outside in the fresh air while painting.

Nature Walks

Nature walks are very simple and very beneficial for the entire family. Whether you head to a park, a rainforest or go on a little bushwalk, there are so many ways for your child to interact with nature as they are walking. Younger children may like to collect sticks, stones and flowers while older children will enjoy looking out for animals and birds. This is certainly one you need to have some time for though – it passes very quickly when little ones are engaged in collecting items.

Outdoor Sticky Mural

Another option that will get your child collecting different nature items is a sticky mural. All this takes is a piece of contact and your child’s natural collecting abilities. Stick the contact to a wall or a gate with some heavy-duty tape and let your child create. Flowers, leaves, petals and more make a great mural.

Bark Art

There’s two ways you can create bank art. Firstly, you could collect larger pieces of bark and let your child paint on them, or the second way is by creating rubbings. Tape a piece of paper to a tree, and let your children draw on the paper with crayons. It creates some lovely patterns and your child can see how the ridges in the bark transform onto paper.

Benefit of Nature Play in an Early Learning Setting

There are of course children who naturally love playing outside, while others aren’t so fond of it. But it is important to look at what outdoor and nature activities your early learning centres do. Outdoors is certainly one of the best places for children of all ages to learn. Early childhood learning centres are the perfect spot for sensory activities like water tubs and sand tubs, using leaves and flowers in craft activities, planting gardens with the children and simply being outside. When choosing an early learning centre, make sure you ask about the types of outdoor and nature play activities the children partake in.

Looking for an early learning centre in Mandurah, Fremantle or Bibra Lakes that has the wellbeing of your child at the front of mind? Speak to the team at Treasured Tots and find out how nature play is incorporated daily.

SORY BY Karen Chapman – Treasured Tots







10 Deadly Facts about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

We here at Wuchopperen Health Service know we are deadly (deadly means ‘good’ or ‘amazing’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander slang), and our Children and Family Centre team love showing our next generations just how deadly they are too.

So, we put our brains together, and 65,000 years of cultural knowledge (another freebie fact – Aboriginal people have been in Australia for at least 65,000 years with some scientists saying it could be closer to 120,000) to come up with ten deadly things we think you and your kids should know about us!

  • We are the oldest surviving culture in the world.

  • We have art older than the pyramids – Aboriginal rock art in Western Australia’s Dampier Archipelago is at least twice as old as the Pyramids of Egypt.

  • In addition, we have over 500 different languages/dialects.


  • Ancient Fish Traps found in Brewarrina in New South Wales may be the oldest man-made things on the planet!


  • In Torres Strait Islander cultures, when someone passes away we have a funeral. But, a few years later we unveil the headstone at the grave site and come together to celebrate the life of that person. This is a happy celebration of the things that person has done and the life they have led. We feel it is too sad to do something like this at the funeral.


  • There were, and continues to be many different roles in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our society is filled with ancient knowledge and people who today we would call scientists that designed tools and implements, astrologists who knew the stars, architects who designed and built shelters, Law Men who oversaw the judiciary system, dieticians who knew what plants and animals were good for you, agriculturalists who cultivated the huge fields of native rice, yams and other foods and genealogists who maintained the kinship system.


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait art is very different between the regions of Australia. Most people are familiar with dot paintings which are normally from the Central Desert regions of Australia. Whereas in Far North Queensland, you are more likely to see geometric shapes. In Arnhem Land you will see a more x-ray style of painting. This is achieved by using long grasses as paintbrushes. However, in the Torres Strait, lino print carving is the most common style.


  • There are over 270 islands in the Torres Strait, with the northern most island only 4km from Papua New Guinea.


  • The Dhari is a traditional headdress worn and made by Torres Strait Islander men, made from feathers and other materials. It is often used in traditional ceremony and can vary from island to island.


  • The most common Aboriginal languages spoken are: Arrernte in Central Australia, Djambarrpuyngu in Arnhem Land, Pitjantjatjara in Western Desert Region, Warlpiri in the Northern Territory, Tiwi in the Tiwi Islands and Murrinhpatha in Wadeye in the Northern Territory. However, one of the most common languages is Kriol. It is a blend of English and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait languages.


Read more HERE. 








Two photos of kids playing playing in the dirt

Born to Be Wild in Cairns

Do you remember your backyard when you were a Kid? Before the internet and tablets our backyard was the beginning and end of all of our adventures. There wasn’t much in our backyard except a Hills Hoist to swing on, a tree for climbing, making tree houses in and hanging an old tyre swing from. We also had a vege garden in the corner; grass for a slip and slide; and a homemade barbecue. It was perfect for family get-togethers and drop ins from neighbours, ready to share a barbecued sausage and a cold drink. This is fundamentally what our Centres are all about – bringing out the best in children by bringing that ‘wildhood’ back with less screen time and more play time for our children!

Why Natural Play?

Research has shown many benefits to natural play;

Children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often. Mud, sand, water, leaves and sticks can help to stimulate a child’s immune system as well as their imagination! They are also more resistant to stress, have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression, and have a higher measure of self-worth. Children experience more positive feelings about each other. In fact, bullying behaviour is greatly reduced as are the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder after contact with nature.

Children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and less likely to be overweight. It helps children play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways, and they show improved language and collaboration skills. Single use, repetitive play equipment becomes boring quickly. Natural, irregular and challenging spaces help children learn to recognise, assess and negotiate risk and build confidence and competence.

Why Our Three Centres?

At Cairns Central Childcare Centre, Smithfield Village Early Learning and Bluewater Village Early Learning – it’s about the child being excited to go to day care and believing they are capable of extraordinary things. Our unique Centres are a balance between education, care, play and experiencing a ‘wildhood’. We allow children to be free and to choose for themselves. They’re allowed and able to resource their own play and learning and to entertain themselves. Our team emphasise “real play” where shoes are optional and getting dirty is compulsory. And, with four sand pits, two large bike tracks, a waterpark, a large grassy area for children to run around in, a barnyard and a garden world … children can exerience a ‘wildhood’
with us.

Bluewater Village Early Learning Centre 1 Maritime Way, Trinity Beach, QLD 4879 – Ph: 4229 9007

Cairns Central Childcare Centre 317 Draper St, Parramatta Park, QLD 4870 – Ph: 4041 2288

Smithfield Village Early Learning Centre Cnr O’Brien Rd & Smithfield Village Dr, Smithfield, QLD 4878 – Ph: 4057 8479perience a ‘wildhood’ with us.

STORY BY John Wall – Cairns Central Childcare – Smithfield Village Early Learning and Bluewater Village Early Learning
















Teacher on stool reads to primary school students who sit on floor around her

Terrific Teachers – October 2020

Maureen Cameron

St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch

“As a musician and teacher, I have had many moments on stage in front of audiences. I’ve travelled and shared performing space with some of the finest musicians on earth. But, undoubtedly, my proudest moment happens at the end of every academic year as my Year 12 music students approach the end of their schooling.

One thing I wish parents knew is how much their children mean to their teachers. We think about their children when we are not at work and are constantly planning our next adventure in the classroom.”


Angela Collins

St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch

“I have had so many proud moments in my career, but one that stands out for me is being able to take students on Immersion to schools in Papua New Guinea, and later teaching in PNG personally. I feel that this has greatly influenced my life and how I interact with students.

Overall, the best thing about teaching at St Andrew’s is the students. They’re passionate and know how to give back to their community. Our Service-Learning program is one way that we continue to see the amazing nature of this generation.”


Lucille Ruggeri

Holy Cross School, Trinity Park

“There is really nothing better than seeing my students come into their classroom excited to learn when I make lessons more fun and enjoyable. Reading about a topic is great, but putting it into action is even better, such as running an experiment or doing a particular kind of project whilst incorporating new skills.

My students are excited to tell their parents about what they did that day when learning is fun and engaging. This creates an important partnership between Teacher, Parent and Student where all are involved in the learning and development of the child.”


Nicola Chambers

Mount St Bernard College, Herberton

“It’s so rewarding helping students that need extra guidance and support,

especially at a boarding school where students do not get to

see their family day to day.

They really appreciate the effort that you put into supporting them in and out of the classroom.

I went to school in England so there are a number of differences I see in school today. Mainly, the way that the students are assessed allows them to showcase their diversity. It means that those who may not excel through a written exam can show their strengths in other ways.”


Michelle Breen

Trinity Anglican School

“Teaching is a complex profession; in a single day you plan, teach, assess, manage, inspire, engage, talk lots, read, answer 1000s of questions, apply band-aids, rescue wildlife and tie shoelaces. There are many precious moments that can mark our days, weeks, years.

The highlight of my career is the collection of thank you letters and cards at the end of the year, which bring a tear to my eye when I realise that I’ve made a real difference. It’s also very special when past students get in touch to say thank you.

I’d like my students to know that it’s okay to try new things because the best time is right now. Their time will come because everybody has their time to shine so keep trying new things! Believe in yourself.”


Julia Czernek

Cairns Hinterland Steiner School

“I fell in love with my workplace about 12 years ago when I was looking for a school for my own children. One of the best attributes is working with our Steiner curriculum, which is designed to meet the specific developmental needs of our students. It is wonderful to see how play and artistic expression kindles such a thirst for learning.

My one piece of advice for parents with school-aged children is to cherish your time together, and develop good routines with sleep, nourishing meals and activity and play in nature.”


Traylea Sexton

Mount St Bernard College, Herberton

“I absolutely love that I get to teach a subject I am passionate about. I respect the students and they respect me; we learn from each other every day. My favourite arts practice is Ceramics. I enjoy teaching students the processes of wheel throwing, hand building, firing and glazing. I have never seen a group of year 10 boys so quiet for two lessons.

Overall parents can support their children in school by encouraging them to be independent. Don’t do everything for them, help them to find their talents within themselves, and ignite their passions.”


Ryan Mawdsley

Mount St Bernard College, Herberton

“I became a teacher because I love to help individuals learn new skills and see the growth in them from year to year. I was also influenced by my grandad as he was a physical education teacher and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

One of the best experiences I’ve had at Mount St Bernard College is taking our year 9 and 10’s out for expedition camp. It’s a great time to develop meaningful relationships with staff and students as they build resilience both physically and mentally.”