Our committee members are all parents who have each experienced a very personal and unique journey after the premature birth of their children. As a member of our community for many years, they each understand the vulnerability parents feel in a similar situation, the importance of an online community and the integral role the Foundation plays with offering a safe and supportive environment to each family.
With each of us playing an important committee role, we wish the Foundation to be every bit the success that the site has been over the years and share the same passion in seeing this continue.
Meet Our Committee
Julia Toivonen ~ President & Founder
Julia founded and created L’il Aussie Prems in February 2007 further to her first pregnancy, which resulted in an extremely early delivery. Although not due until June, she gave birth to her first and eldest son Ronan at 27 weeks gestation, due to a placental abruption in March 2006 at Monash Medical Center in Victoria.
Ronan experienced a lengthy stay in the NICU and has developmental delays. He has worked very hard to catch up and has grown into a healthy 8 year old currently enjoying his third year of school. Julia credits the invaluable professional assistance and unlimited family support offered to them which ensured Ronan met milestones and the opportunity to thrive.
Like all good things, L’il Aussie Prems evolved from the need to talk to other parents who could understand the journey. Julia met with Nicole, another premmie mum and together they exchanged ideas on starting an online community. A few days later the website was in development. Julia had single-handedly developed, maintained and kept the L’il Aussie Prems website online since its inception in 2007 until it was registered as a charity in 2012. The members have been instrumental in the success of the website, with many volunteering their time to support Julia over the years who is grateful for their dedication to the community.
Julia also played an integral part as a founding committee member, in setting up the National Premmie Foundation in 2007. In March 2014, she retired her position on the committee after seven years volunteering for the charity. She was also a committee member for Life’s Little Treasures Foundation for a number of years.
She is no stranger to the premmie community, pouring her heart and soul into it which is continually recognised as she continues to be nominated for community awards, such as the ‘Local Hero’ award which she won in 2008 from her local council and in September 2013, she won the Pride of Australia ‘Community Spirit’ Medal in Victoria. Julia is modest and is humbled by this along with the support both LAPF and her own family have received from the community that she supports.
Julia looks forward to the next journey that L’il Aussie Prems Foundation will take in continuing to support families with the same understanding and open arms that the community provided to her family.
Julia resides in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs with her husband and is a mum to three young children.
Andrena Taylor ~ Vice President
After a complication free first pregnancy Andrena & her husband had no reason to believe it would be otherwise with their second child, even though Andrena herself & four siblings were all premature babies.
At 29 weeks Andrena found herself in hospital after being unwell at home for about a week, it was discovered after a few days that she had developed Pre-Eclampsia and would remain in hospital until the baby was born. Approximately 1 week later Caelan was born with IUGR weighing 942 grams via emergency c-section at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne after it was discovered Andrena had developed HELLP Syndrome. After a reasonably quick recovery and no ongoing side effects Andrena continued to attend the hospital each day to see Caelan who spent 52 days in the NICU and SCN at both the Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne and Freemasons Hospital Melbourne. Caelan is now a happy & healthy 2.5 year old with no developmental delays.
Andrena first joined the L’il Aussie Prems Community Forum in June 2011, two days before Caelan’s arrival and found the support base on the forum to be a lifeline during those weeks in hospital.
Andrena has supported L’il Aussie Prems Foundation through her photography Little Tales Photography with the use of personal photographic images of Caelan’s journey including the images provided for the first two Wear Green For Premmies Day marketing materials. She was extremely proud to be asked to participate further for the 2014 Wear Green for Premmies Day marketing campaign by assisting in the selection of this years “Face of Wear Green for Premmies” and is excited to see the launch of this years marketing materials.
Andrena is excited to become more involved in the running of the Foundation in her role as Vice President and looks forward to the experience ahead.
Andrena resides in the Country Victoria with her husband and two children.
Jenny Bradley ~ Secretary & Treasurer
Jenny gave birth to her first children, twin boys at 24.4 weeks gestation, due to PPROM and a severe infection at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital in April 2007. Thomas was born first weighing 630 grams and came home after 255 days in hospital. Alexander was born second weighing 546 grams and came home after 132 days in hospital. Both boys are now 7 years old and loving school.
Jenny first became a member of L’il Aussie Prems when she was home with her twins. The support offered by L’il Aussie Prems, was invaluable to Jenny as she raised her two sons, both with developmental delays. Jenny offered her assistance to Julia 2 years ago to help update the website, which she still does today.
Jenny is extremely passionate about supporting families of premature babies. Jenny knows that having someone to speak with, who understands is invaluable and is well aware of the many difficulties faced by parents in hospital and once they get home.
She has volunteered her time with other groups such as Life’s Little Treasures Foundation and was honored to be asked to become the secretary of the new look L’il Aussie Prems Foundation. Jenny looks forward to watching L’il Aussie Prems Foundation continue to grow and make a difference to the premmie community.
Jenny currently resides in the coastal villages in Melbourne’s south east.
Nicole Powell ~ Event Support
Nicole is a busy mum of 3 young boys. She gave birth to her first son, Nixon in April 2006 at 33 weeks at the Mercy Women’s Hospital in Heidelberg, Melbourne after PPROM at 32 weeks.
Living in Melbourne at the time but originally from Sydney, Nicole found herself looking for some extra support as being a first time mum had its challenges but also a having premmie left many questions unanswered.
Nicole was one of the first ever members to join L’il Aussie Prems and has been a part of the online community ever since. “I have seen the community grow from just 2 members to over 2,000 members. It certainly highlights that support for families of sick or prematurely born children is needed.
The community offers understanding from pregnancy, birth and the many years beyond ”, said Nicole. Nixon had a rough start to life and attended over 3 years of early intervention for speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavioral psychology. Without the hours upon hours of therapies, Nixon’s outlook may be very different to what it is today. He is now a bright 8 year old boy who started school in 2012.
Nicole is excited to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the L’il Aussie Prems Foundation committee. She is eager to provide further support and to be a guiding hand in expanding the online services that the Foundation currently provides.
Nicole currently resides in the Southern suburbs of Sydney.
Carolyn Lindsey ~ Fundraising & Donations
Carolyn is a mum to two children; Danielle born at 26 weeks weighing 722 grams in 2007, and Matthew who was born at full term in 2009. Danielle was born early due to Oligohydramnios and spontaneous labour. She spent a long and emotional 149 days in the NICU at Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne. Danielle came home on oxygen which she remained on until she was nearly 12 months old.
Today, Danielle is a happy and healthy 6 year old little girl who started primary school in 2013. Considering Danielle’s tumultuous start, she has no ongoing health or development issues which continue to amaze her family.
Carolyn became a member of L’il Aussie Prems in mid 2007 and found it to be extremely supportive. Carolyn has made many close friends over the years whom she catches up with regularly. Carolyn started attending the Knox Premmie’s Playgroup a few months after Danielle came home from hospital in 2007, which was where she first met local mums, Julia and Kalee. Carolyn wanted to do more to support families on a larger scale so in 2011, she joined the National Premmie Foundation committee as the website co-ordinator. In mid 2012, Carolyn became the President of the Foundation and continues in this role to date.
Carolyn has a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with Honours and has worked in the Traffic and Transport field for almost 10 years. Carolyn currently works part time as a Senior Transport and Road Safety Engineer in Local Government.
Carolyn is excited to be apart of the LAPF committee and understands the emotional vulnerability parents are faced with after the premature birth of a child. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in local Governments and looks forward to playing an integral role in the Foundation moving forward.
Carolyn resides in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs.
Sarah Peatey ~ Design & Support
Sarah is a busy mum to 5 children with her last 3 children being born prematurely. Hayden was born at 32 weeks in 2006, William born at 30 weeks in 2008 and Thomas born at 28 weeks in 2012. They each spent their NICU/SCN time between the Royal Brisbane Woman’s Hospital and Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland.
Living in remote Central Queensland, Sarah found herself seeking out support from families in similar situations and joined the L’il Aussie Prems forum in mid 2007. The support and friendships she found in the online community has been invaluable throughout the last 6 years. Sarah has spent many years supporting the premmie community and volunteered on the National Premmie Foundation committee for 2 years.
Sarah is currently studying a Bachelor of Nursing and hopes to work closely with premature babies and their families in the near future.
Sarah is thrilled to be a committee member of L’il Aussie Prems Foundation and is looking forward to seeing the foundation continuing to grow.
Sarah currently resides in Central Queensland with her family.
Nicole Smeelie ~ Community Liaison
Nicole is a mum to 2 premature babies. Her son Lucas born at 35 weeks and her daughter Grace was born at 30 weeks, both due to an incompetent cervix.
Lucas was born at Mater Private Hospital in Cleveland and spent 4 weeks at Redlands Special Care Nursery, he is now 7 years old. Grace was born at Mater Mothers Hospital in South Brisbane and spent 2 weeks in NCIU and then a further 4 weeks in Redlands SCU. She will be celebrating her 1st birthday in April.
Grace’s early arrival was the hardest for the family as Nicole was admitted to hospital at 20 weeks due to early labor. She was admitted until Grace was born at 30 weeks gestation due to her family living an hour’s drive away from the closest NICU.
It was through the early arrival of her daughter that Nicole found L’il Aussie Prems Foundation. She was not prepared or ready at the time to share her journey but reading the stories from other mum’s experiences, helped her through the many months away from her son, Lucas.
Nicole runs her own Virtual Assistant business and is excited to use her expertise to support L’il Aussie Prems Foundation and joined the committee earlier this year. Nicole experienced the heartache of being away from her family during her pregnancy with Grace and realises the importance in mums receiving support and information about the road ahead. She personally found that there was little support available for the mums who spend most of their pregnancy in hospital on bed rest and hopes to change this. She inspires to implement services to better support mums in this situation, making it a positive experience for not only the mums, but also their families.
Nicole resides in Redlands in South East Queensland with her family.
Vanessa Taylor ~ General Member
Vanessa gave birth to her second son, Tehan 6 weeks early weighing 1.2kgs. He was born unexpectedly at home and then transported to the local hospital where he was admitted into the Special Care Nursery. He had a number of complications and the journey was very difficult for Vanessa and her family. For many years Vanessa could not talk about his early arrival as she found it to be very traumatizing and she believes that L’il Aussie Prems Foundation helped her through the difficult time. Now, eight years later, Vanessa is able to talk about her son, his journey and is proud of how far he has come
Vanessa is a busy mum working full time in the Records Management Industry by day and whilst this is her first year as a general committee member, she looks forward to being a part of the important growth of our Foundation over the next 12 months.
Vanessa currently resides in the coastal villages in Melbourne’s south east.
If you are interested in volunteering for our Foundation, please send an email to our Secretary, Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.