Family Rules – Season 3 is an observational documentary series which follows the daily lives of Perth's Rule sisters and their single mother, Daniella. It provides an inside look into a modern, urban Aboriginal family as its members celebrate significant milestones, pursue their dreams and manage dilemmas and challenges.
The overall narrative is structured into six stand-alone episodes, each with a distinct sub theme and resolution, so one or more parts may be watched in isolation if required. In season 3, the spotlight falls on Daniella, and daughters two, five, six, seven and eight: Shenika, Sharna, Kiara, Jessica and Aleisha.
After giving birth to three sons, 'daughter number two', Shenika, is having a girl. She and her husband Trent are considering making a sea change to the coastal town of Bunbury and explore what the area has to offer. When the boys meet their newborn sister in hospital, they cover her with kisses and check that she is coming home with them.
Sharna is looking to embark on something new, so engages a personal trainer. She is joined by a few of her sisters and her mum and after a few weeks of dedicated effort, Sharna starts feeling the best she has ever felt.
Kiara is finding her home of Melbourne to be a concrete jungle and takes a rejuvenating trip with her new daughter, Bindi, to Noongar Country. They travel to Nowanup with members of the family, giving Kiara a sense of clarity and pleasure in being able to take her daughter to her ancestral nation.
Jessica has turned eighteen and gets to go to her first NAIDOC ball. She's finding life hectic and wants to take a gap semester. Jessica finally builds up the courage to tell her mum that she wants to take time off from uni. Daniella isn't so keen, but feels she needs to let her second youngest daughter go and experience life.
Twenty-year-old Aleisha loves her job but is looking for a side-hustle. She undertakes an online test to assess what career might suit her. When 'wedding planner' comes up, she decides to try out her skills and organise a girls' weekend away for the family, planning everything herself. It's regarded as a great success and Daniella thinks they should do it every year.
Daniella marks her 50th birthday by travelling alone to Warakurna, a remote Aboriginal community in the Western Australian Central Desert. It's full of new experiences, including camping under the stars, bush food and painting with the world-renowned local women artists. On the way home to Perth, Daniella visits Uluru and reflects that she is proud to have reached fifty and be thriving.
Family Rules – Season 3 will have interest and relevance for middle to senior secondary and tertiary students in the following curriculum areas:
- Children, family and community studies;
- Aboriginal and intercultural studies.
In the context of these learning areas, the series offers students an opportunity to:
- consider representations of Aboriginal people and cultures;
- critique and challenge beliefs, assumptions and stereotypes;
- examine the roles, status and representations of women in modern day society;
- consider the different ways people can demonstrate care and respect towards one another;
- discuss family structures, familial bonds and the significance of family;
- discuss issues such as belonging, connection to culture, personal growth, goal setting and personal development.
The documentary is an excellent basis for exploring the cross curriculum priority area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, notably:
- OI.5: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.
- OI.8: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' family and kinship structures are strong and sophisticated.
Family Rules raises points about how family and cultural networks can contribute to wellbeing, making the series a useful supplementary text in the teaching of Health and PE (in particular, Episode 2: Sharna). It also offers scope for the development of Australian Curriculum general capabilities: Personal and Social Capability, and Intercultural Understanding.
Family Rules – Season 3 is also available on DVD here.