Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Deborah Saunders experienced a mother’s worst nightmare when her son was killed in a tragic car accident at age 17. 


She recalls how the press bombarded her family, and mainstream media reported misleading articles. Everyone deserves a chance to tell their story. Here, Deborah explains in her own words how she coped with her son’s death and has healed her broken heart by looking after children.


The Barnardo’s Mother of the Year VIC 2019, has raised four children independently and fostered countless teenagers. She has devoted her life to providing young people with a home, a safe space and a chance for a better life. Deborah’s guiding light has saved those who have found themselves travelling down a dark and troubling path. Her home has been a place of protection and nurture. 


Children, entrenched in a world of drug and alcohol abuse, in an endless cycle of poverty, full of uncertainties such as when or where they will get their next meal, yearn for the love and stability that Deborah provides. The number of children dependent on this support continues to rise. 


The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Family Studies have shown that the number of children in care has risen in Australia by 18% from 2013 to 2017.


Winning Mother of the Year has in no way affected her humility. Throughout our small chat, Deborah oozed motherly compassion and a determination to help kids that need it.  


What would you say is your biggest passion?


I think the rights of young people. Definitely. The rights of dignity and respect. Some of the young people I work with don’t have housing. They’re living in poverty and experiencing drug and alcohol abuse, childhood abuse. The worst part is it just keeps going. It doesn’t get addressed. There’s no healing, so that’s my job. 


Has there been an experience that inspired your passion for helping foster children? 


I think it was my childhood. I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but it was a bit rough. I think also being a young person growing up in poverty, and then being able to reflect on actually how tough it is for these kids. I was one of the lucky ones because I had a family. Also, my kids would always bring friends home. We ended up with some staying, and these moments would help me reflect on how fortunate I was. 


The State of Being Faye – Changing Health for Australians

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Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti


Reading The Play on the Mental Health Crisis

by Ponderings Radio

‘Read the Play’ is a mental health awareness and wellbeing program, specifically aimed at kids between the ages of 14 and 16. 

The program is presented at football and netball clubs and fuses fun with education. Games and jigsaw puzzles create a conversation and a safe space where kids can ask important questions.

We sat down with David Langley, chairman of ‘Read the Play’, to talk about the growing mental health crisis, how he created a movement, and what he has learnt along the way.

What is ‘Read the Play’s’ back-story?

As the community director of the Kempe Group, I wanted to change the Kempe sponsorship model and one way of doing this was to create a youth program and through the process ‘Read the Play’ was born, initially teaching kids about alcohol and illicit drugs and it was delivered by parents after an 8 training session with the first program running in 2007.

After running this model for several years, I wasn’t happy with the numbers and parents weren’t comfortable answering questions about topics surrounding mental health. Words like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia were popping up.


A new model/program was developed around a games night that would deliver the questions easier. We changed the philosophy to be more about mental health, and professional clinicians were engaged to deliver the program. 


The next year we doubled our numbers. We went from around 650 to over a thousand, and then gradually went up to 4,500 kids overall, across Victoria.


How successful are the results?

Deakin University is doing a two-year review program. They’ve already done one year. I can’t tell you the results but they indicate we’re making a significant difference. After the second year’s complete, we will have documented proof/evidence that we are making a difference in the communities we work in, which will allow us to present to government for funding. Even though we have great sponsors we require ongoing funding to ensure the stability and viability of the program long-term.

What makes people in business want to support something like this?

It’s for kids. Also, mental health touches 1 in 4 people; it’s everywhere we look. It’s not a hard sell. Some people don’t get it, and I can’t understand that. Mental health issues have touched my family network, maybe that’s the key to getting it. 

I get blown away at times. I get emotional because people are so good, I get angry, because of the people that would rather give money to a club to buy beer which fuels the problems ‘Read the Play’ aims to prevent.

What are the specific components you have learnt about creating a movement like this?

I didn’t realize when I started ‘Read the Play’, how big the problem of mental health was. I think that has staggered me but also been my drive. I’ve realized, we could be helping a lot more kids. So, passion is one component. 

The other is having a great group of dedicated staff and volunteers on board. 

Growth is hard to contain, so we’ve had to change our structure and work out how we can do better.

How do you envision the future of ‘Read the Play’?

‘We’re developing the program for under 17-year-olds, which will focus more on youth suicide and safe partying/driving etc. 

People in Melbourne are interested in what we’re doing and want to run it in their areas. 

Ultimately, my vision is to get to as many places possible across Australia and continue to develop a very professional program. 

I’m chuffed when I look back at the number of stories where we have helped kids. We can’t stop. We need to keep the momentum going.

There were moments during this conversation, where Mr Langley’s eyes would well up. Youth suicide rates continue to sky-rocket, and too many kids suffer from depression or anxiety. Mr Langley and his ‘Read the Play’ team are on a mission to change this. The program’s success is proof that an idea, once put into action, can become a movement that creates phenomenal change. 

 To be a part of the ‘Read the Play’ journey click the link. 

KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800
LIFELINE – 13 11 14
HEADSPACE – 1800 650 890

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Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Deborah Saunders experienced a mother’s worst nightmare when her son was killed in a tragic car accident at age 17.    She recalls how the press bombarded her family, and mainstream media reported misleading articles. Everyone deserves a chance to tell their...

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Youth Suicide and the incredible program doing something to help the mental health crisis- Interview with David Langley from Read The Play

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

My boss took my colleague and I to Sydney for the day.    I should’ve been excited but was shrouded with apprehension. If you’re the type of person who shouldn't leave the house without body armour and your belongings strapped to your chest, you will understand...

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

by Ponderings Radio

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti


My boss took my colleague and I to Sydney for the day. 


I should’ve been excited but was shrouded with apprehension. If you’re the type of person who shouldn’t leave the house without body armour and your belongings strapped to your chest, you will understand why.

This is how the day unfolded.


10:00 am: For the first 15 minutes of The Rocks Walking Tour, our Swedish tour guide discussed the First Settlers arriving in Australia without a single mention of the brutal massacre of the Indigenous people. Hmmm…

We also wanted quirky stories. We wanted to know about the man who was chopped up and shoved down a fireplace. We wanted to know about the rumours and the whispers of vulgarity and vice. Instead, we endured two hours of dry historical facts. We watched Playing Beattie Bow for crying out loud. 

12:30 pm: Pasta at The Grounds, surrounded by 1940’s décor, made up for it. We decided to hold off on dessert and wait for the highly-anticipated scones at our next stop.

2:15 pm: Sitting at the Chinese Garden of Friendship Teahouse, my heart was full, until everything began to derail. For starters, there were no scones because the Teahouse was under new management. Feeling sorry for myself, I saw Kirsten frantically searching her bag. Her notebook that held a manuscript forged over years was missing. We headed straight for The Grounds.

4:20 pm: Kirsten jumped out while Cassidy and I waited in the Uber. Suddenly, the driver pulled back onto the road and started driving off, heading for the airport. I panicked and tried to explain that we had to wait for Kirsten to return. He couldn’t do a U-turn, and we couldn’t call Kirsten because we had her phone. I called up The Grounds to warn Kirsten not to panic when she saw we had left. Once we returned, she got in the car and asked, “where did you find it?”. The woman I had spoken too at The Grounds thought I’d said we found the notebook.

5:30: Waiting for our flight at the airport, Kirsten somehow held it together. I kept her camera equipment underneath my chair.


6:30 pm: During the flight back to Geelong, despite the exhaustion and devastating end to the day, we delved into topics like religion, third dimensions and reincarnation. Although we had different beliefs, there was no judgement, just a mutual appreciation for the wonderful complexities of life.


8:00 pm: When everyone exited the plane, I realized that Kirsten’s camera equipment that I’d been carrying throughout the day was gone. Kirsten assured me it was ok, but it wasn’t. I called up the Sydney Airport lost property and was asked: “is your name, Kirsten?”. Nearly crying from relief, we staggered out of the airport.

We flew to Sydney to uncover its secrets. Along the road to finding these secrets, we were bored, disappointed, and lost things, but ultimately gained a bond more precious. A beautiful friendship was forged between a wordsmith, an actress and a journalist. I learnt that the best part of a trip isn’t the destination, but the relationships you form while you’re there, especially when shit happens, which it always does.

Perhaps the most important lesson was that you should never get too excited about scones. Missing out on those guys is a kind of disappointment no one deserves to experience.

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Follow the Breadcrumbs to Storyville…

Follow the Breadcrumbs to Storyville…

Follow the Breadcrumbs to StoryVille

by Ponderings Radio

Walking down a small lane on cobblestone streets in the inner belly of Melbourne can always delight and surprise. 

Perhaps like us you find a doorway, decorated with scrolled writing promising to stay a part of you forever. Echoes of childhood mingle with joy and discovery, and you realise you are walking into something exceeding magical. You have entered the realm of Storyville, Melbourne. 

The Enid Blyton inspired tree foyer leads to the Mushroom palace, Tinkerbell’s birdcage, then on upstairs you explore to the giant library and the Chronicles of Narnia corner. This is one joint that has managed to tap into the theatrical drama of Melbourne, and the inner child is awakened fully. Transfixed? You will be!

Our host Alex welcomes us warmly, and our conversation cannot run smoothly because a grown-up- transported into childhood is an excited mess. I order a Goblet of Flames beverage, and we chat. 

With magicians on Thursday nights and drinks to match the experience, Alex tells us Storyville has been an overwhelming success.

 “Melbourne is the city that embraces a late-night culture, everyone supports putting on weird and wonderful things, they turn up.”  Alex’s personal favourite drink is Poly Potion, a Harry Potter-inspired concoction of Gin, Kiwi Fruit and Basil, a sweet and sour sensation. We spotted So long and thanks for all the fish – Tanqueray Gin, Cocci Americano, Dry Vermouth, Lemon, Grapefruit & Orange (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams 1979 – 2009) We know right? NEXT LEVEL. 

So how long did it take to build this dreamscape? 

Around a year Alex tells us, and when I ask was it difficult to NOT keep adding to it,  he nods enthusiastically. The hospitality aficionado says the launch got put back multiple times with something else to be added. The meaning of scope creep is understated. After admiring the hand-sculpted trees, we can understand why. 

With a giant clock installation on the horizon and a matching food menu, creativity knows no bounds in a place like this. What inspired Storyville? 

“A range of things, we wanted something entirely different, a venue based on multiple stories, and we are all literature fans and had lots of inspiration. We felt like other people would relate to it too. Being able to link the product to the concept, events and the smaller things like the magic shows, comedy shows and literature launches, the reactions to the experience, being able to walk into a wonderland and lose themselves- all of this.” says Alex. 

From the videos on the back of Qantas seats to the thousands taking photos of what is an Instagram dream, Storyville should most certainly be on your Go-To map of Melbourne explorations. You may want to bring breadcrumbs though, you won’t want to leave. 

Check it out for yourself here on Insta- https://www.instagram.com/storyvillemelbourne/ 

Storyville is located just off 185 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000 

We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Struthless, More Than a Ruthless Cynic

Struthless, More Than a Ruthless Cynic

Struthless, More Than a Ruthless Cynic

by Ponderings Radio

Sydney funny man, Struthless (real name: Campbell Walker), is entertaining his 206K followers with a clever formula. 

The 28 year old, combines art and humor with political and social commentary to create the color ‘Struthless’. Markers lend Struthless his millennial voice, and Instagram serves to spread his ideas to the world, forging an anti-racist and anti-nationalist counter-culture. He also just makes you laugh.

We spoke to Struthless about his recent series, among other really cool, fun, interesting things. You’ll just have to read to find out.

Your recent series ‘drawing cartoon characters in 9 styles’ has gained a lot of popularity. What inspired this series and what has been your favourite adaptation?

I broke my hand earlier this year, and the doctors said I couldn’t draw for six weeks. Three weeks later, I ripped the cast off and started drawing again. I was going stir crazy, like a working dog in a cage. When I could finally draw again, I just got this sudden rush of passion to really draw. I’ve always mimicked other people’s styles when I draw for fun, so I did it for a video and people seemed to enjoy watching it. My favourite adaptation is either the Maurice Sendak Pikachu, the Oni Nigel Thornberry, or the Terry Denton Po.


Throughout this series, you’ve been able to showcase not only your skills but your knowledge and respect for other illustrators, who has influenced you the most?

It’d be a 3-way tie between Robert Crumb, Dr Seuss and Terry Denton. The way Robert Crumb uses his lines pushes me to be better. Dr Seuss has the most iconic, unique and somehow transferable character and object design. Terry Denton has such a childlike love for chaos that I adore.


Was there a cartoon or comic series that inspired you to start drawing?

Definitely the works of those three illustrators, but I only started drawing very recently. I was more of a fan than a practitioner. Mad Magazine and Tintin have always been huge sources of inspiration. Also, a lot of cartoonists online inspired me.


A lot of your cartoons, though hilarious, have strong political or social commentary. Is your primary goal to start a conversation, or is it purely comedic?

My main goal is to articulate things people are already feeling, so they stop feeling the loneliness they’re prone to. The way I do this is usually through cynical social commentary, which I hope makes people think “thank god I’m not the only one who thinks like this.” The political stuff is different. That’s more about articulating ideas in unique and succinct ways because ideas need to be well-expressed to travel. Then there’s the more surreal stuff – my goal there is to make people happy.


What do you think is the biggest issue in Australian culture today?  

Damn… I’m not sure, but my first instinct is to say probably people using “job creation” to justify long term damage to the environment.




What would the Struthless’ starter pack’ entail? 

Dumb tattoos, a few colourful markers, and my two beautiful dogs.

You’re great at interacting with followers; how much does their feedback influence your work?

Thanks! Feedback helps me make better and more intimate stuff, and I like it for that reason. The way I see it is that I create the structure and then work with other people on what to fill the structure with. It’ll always be uniquely my work at the end of the day, but in a collaborative way that resonates with lots of people. Plus, it’s just fun. You get to make something with heaps of different ideas you wouldn’t ordinarily think of on your own. I love it.


So there you go; behind the satirical and often wickedly immoral depictions, is a humble man drawing to make people feel less lonely.

To join the fun and partake in the conversation, chuck struthless69 a follow. If you can’t get enough, then listen to his podcast, ‘God is Dead’, co-hosted with Bryce Mills. If you still can’t get enough, then buy a sleek and stylish product from his apparel line he makes with partner Felicity. If you still can’t get enough, no judging, obsessions can be healthy, buy a print to stick on your wall so you can look at it every night before you go to bed.

The State of Being Faye – Changing Health for Australians

words by Kirsten Macdonald When I first met Faye Kendall, I knew she was someone I would like to interview one day....

The State of Being Faye – Changing Health for Australians

words by Kirsten Macdonald When I first met Faye Kendall, I knew she was someone I would like to interview one day....

Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Mindfulness: Journey from Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

by Ponderings Radio

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti


Are you a master of your mind, or does the thought of mindfulness send you cross-eyed and thought twisted? 

What exactly is mindfulness? Is it enveloping our minds in a eurythmic cocoon of self-awareness and safety? Or is it juicing up the old think tank in a new way? We ponder the medical marvel and its history, while talking with mindfulness expert Dr Craig Hassed, Monash University Professor.


The most tragic myth is that mindfulness is easy; you simply sit down, breathe, think, and hum. The truth is, it can be challenging and does not need to be practiced while meditating! Essentially, mindfulness is being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings in the present moment and accepting them without judgement. This can be done at any time; while you eat, walk or even complete chores. Meditation and yoga are merely ways to nurture and expand mindfulness, as it encourages sincere concentration.

Overtime, this ancient religious practice has become the fastest growing health trend in America, with an estimated 200–500 million people meditating worldwide.

Its story begins in the 6th century, when Bodhidharma, an Indian monk known as “The Blue-Eyed Barbarian” arrived in China to teach a special teaching not-written in the scriptures because the teaching is impossible to transmit by words. 

The teaching was Zen, which focuses on achieving enlightenment through meditation.

“What is ultimately behind (Zen), is the annihilation or transcendence of your identity as an individual, and access to non-local, super personal, consciousness,” says Russell Brand, comedian turned human advisor and Luminary Podcaster. There can be no doubt that mindfulness has the power to give anyone a new lease on life.

The 1800s Gold Rush introduced Zen to the western world when Chinese migrants travelled to countries in search of gold. Deep-rooted racism prevented acceptance of Buddhist rituals by the mainstream until, of course, they were whitewashed 100 years later.

Monash University Professor, Dr Craig Hassed, told us, “When the first studies on the benefits of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy came out in 1999, it sparked exponential growth in the research and application of mindfulness.”

Dr Craig Hassed goes as far as to call it “an antidote to the modern world.”

The Monash University professor says, “[mindfulness has] many useful side effects such as reducing stress, enhancing performance, improving mental health, enhancing communication, and fostering prosocial attitudes and emotional intelligence.”

Russell Brand addresses the involvement of modern science in his video, ‘Is Mindfulness a Con’. He says, “the people that came up with meditative techniques, that [modern scientists] are now proving to make your brain waves all groovy and lower your heart rate, already knew [the benefits]. They knew without access to the physicalized technology that demonstrates the efficacy of these techniques.”

In other words, Neuroscience didn’t make meditation ‘better’; it just validated what Buddhists had already known for millennia.

Mindfulness in the western world today, is a hybrid of Zen and the rituals and beliefs of Indian and Chinese Taoism.  The practice has been secularized and become a ‘trendy fad’.

However, the health benefits are irrefutable, and it’s effectively awakening the minds of individuals.

Studies have shown that after meditating for 6–9 months, almost two-thirds of those prone to anxiety manage to reduce their anxiety levels.

Mindfulness has come a long way. From sacred teachings, to medical marvel, to commodity sold by meditation apps and retreats. By acknowledging the origins and its true purpose, mindfulness has the power to create more awakened people.


If you would like to learn more about mindfulness, Monash-FutureLearn collaboration is providing a free online mindfulness course. The next one goes live on October 7 and is ranked as one of the world’s top online courses.

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