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Extended Families


Find out more with real stories, videos, testimonials and experiences from our families,
our volunteers, our staff and management and of course our wonderful donors and supporters.

Alison and Saxon

‘My husband and I are fully aware of the quote, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. The problem for us was that we didn’t have a village around us that could support us in raising our two beautiful children. Our gorgeous eight year old son has Down Syndrome, he brings such joy to our family. However, his special needs also places pressure on us all from time to time. He deserves and needs a special person in his life to give him the opportunity to participate in activities outside our home and we all need some respite too. 

Meeting Alison through Extended families has been an absolute blessing to our family. Her relationship with our son is very special, he waits with his bag packed in the driveway for her every Saturday, way before she is due to collect him, for their adventures together. These outings provide my husband and I and our six year old daughter the chance to spend time together without the added pressures we would otherwise have. I can see through the love Alison shares that she also benefits greatly from spending time with our special boy! The relationship is so wonderful that I often forget that we met Alison through Extended Families, as we see her as a fully-fledged family member. I hope she realises the joy she brings to each of us!'

- Narelle, parent

On the value of connecting with other parents

‘So far this (volunteer) match has been way above my expectations, and helpful for myself and my son. And I really like the opportunity to meet other families, it makes you feel part of a bigger community that you can share experiences with and it’s reassuring to see other families in your situation.’  

- Deborah, parent

'Our family enjoyed camping immensely and we have to thank you and the team for organising it so well. Special thanks to all the sponsors because without them many of us won’t have the opportunity to meet new friends, share stories on their success in helping their special needs children to thrive to their full capacity. For us as parents with a special needs son, most of the time we feel lonely and many times we ask why us? We cannot share our problems or burden with “normal” families because we don’t want them to feel sorry for us or make them feel uncomfortable. Attending this camp we came home very happy as our son can be the special person he is, we can say anything and everything to the people at camp without the fear of being judged. Lots of ideas were being thrown around by real experienced families with similar situation, we feel a sense of belonging to a support group, we can call upon someone and they will listen to you. Most importantly, we all had fun together, the children learned to share and be patience at game time which is a big effort for our autistic son'. 

- Anna, parent

On getting some help

'We really appreciate the time Jane spends with us. After school is a difficult time for me looking after both kids alone, having Jane there means I can spend time focusing on one or the other and my husband can spend that bit of extra time at work instead of rushing home'

- Inna, parent

On supporting and caring

"Not only do I love being able to provide valuable support to the families and children that I work with, but I love working for an organisation that genuinely cares about about the potential and wellbeing of both the staff and families. It's such a pleasure to be a part of."

- Steph

Laura and Naomi

I was in my 3rd year of social work studies and really wanted to do something outside of work and study that complemented my course. Naomi and I developed a real friendship, we learnt about each other and the things we like doing in the community. We really clicked. We love going out, having coffee, going to movies and out for dinner. They are generally things that you would do with a regular friend, and that's something I really liked about the program. I never saw myself as Naomi's carer, I would always try and reinforce the fact that I'm just another special friend.


On volunteer rewards

'I really enjoy my time with Hebe and I feels like I get more from the experience than maybe she does from spending time with me. I’ve grown to have an attachment to Hebe and her family and am always thinking about them'.

Maëlle, volunteer

"I love seeing volunteers go from their initial interest in the program through to introducing them to a child and their family. In supporting the match, it is so rewarding to observe how the volunteer's involvement is impacting their lives and to see these relationships grow over time.”

- Amanda Perry, Family & Volunteer Coordinator

On the Volunteer Match program

'It feels like it [the Volunteer Match program] gives families that little bit of extra support or time to help them and their children. When a match works it is fantastic hearing about the relationship between the child, volunteer and family as it develops and getting a sense of their journey and growth together.'  - Olivia Nam, Family & Volunteer Coordinator

On friendship

"This is the only job where I get to do chocolate tasting with a client and to go to cool activities like rock climbing and watch movies on Friday nights with a fantastic bunch of young people!"

- Emma

On NDIS Support Coordination

'It was great speaking with you yesterday, I am feeling very overwhelmed ... with how the whole (NDIS) program is going to work, but you have already made me feel a little less overwhelmed! So thank you. - Parent

On working at Extended Families

'I love bringing people together. There is nothing better than that moment when you realise you have a volunteer and a child that you can match' - Zoe,  Family & Volunteer Coordinator

'12 years ago I came to Extended Families for a 6 months project, it was the genuine care and positive outlook of volunteers and the amazing spirit of families that led me to stay. I knew it was something special that I wanted to be a part of and see it grow'. - Julie Langdon, CEO

On working at Extended Families

"It’s so heart warming to see the little improvements that our clients make over time. Also most of the time you're getting paid to have fun hanging out with some pretty cool young people. Yeah there might be some difficulties, but being able to help clients overcome them makes our work super rewarding. I actually love my job 😊 "

- Stacey

The Good Guys - Doing Good

Thomas and his sister Renee both have a disability and are part of Extended Families programs. They were chosen to be the recipients of the 2016 Good Guys Taylors Lakes 'Merry Giftmas'. The Good Guys have installed cooling equipment to ensure Thomas’ room stays cool and comfortable at night and provided the family with a personal DVD recorder so that Thomas and Renee can watch their favourite shows together (and this gives their parents a break). These have made a huge difference for the children and the family.

Thanks Good Guys!

Case Study

Lesley : Over the last four years i have volunteered with extended families and been matched with Kaiden, who is almost 11 and who is on the Autism Spectrum. We catch up for a few hours every fortnight and do all sorts of fun things – rock climbing, mini golf, cycling, tennis, playing in the park and just hanging out. We’ve developed a great bond and we both really look forward to spending time together. Kaiden benefits from one to one attention and has a reliable buddy who he knows is there for him. He has someone who enjoys doing the activities he likes but who also encourages him to try some new things. The family benefits from regular breaks, knowing that Kaiden is in safe hands and is outside being energetic.

For me however, the impact has been huge. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone - whether it has been abseiling from the top of a wall or coming up with fun games to play in the park. I’ve grown in confidence and get such a buzz from each and every visit. I am treated like part of the family and we share photos, emails and texts of all of the important parts of each other’s lives. It is a very special and fulfilling relationship and one I would not change for the world! In fact, it has led me to a complete career change – I’ve gone from a finance based role to an integration aide in a primary school, something that I absolutely love and wouldn’t have found had it not been for my volunteering experience.

Living with a disability can be difficult. We support people aged 0-30 and their families in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula to build friendships and connect with their community.

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Suite 1, 95 Bell Street
P.O.Box 275
Coburg Victoria 3058