Matilda Gerrans


Halloween in Australia is definitely going to be different this year. While restrictions surrounding COVID-19 have eased for some states throughout the year, others are still in lockdown. There’s no doubt that many kids have been wondering if they can go trick or treating and celebrate other Halloween traditions this year, so here is a state-by-state guide on the restrictions around Halloween, as well as some fun alternatives for those in lockdown or under strict COVID rules.

Western Australia

Restrictions in WA have eased up in the past couple of months, so Halloween will be back to normal this year. There are no limits on outdoor gatherings or house parties, but just make sure that hand sanitizer is available, and try to maintain a 1.5 metre distance when going house to house.

South Australia

Halloween in SA will be just as spooky and fun as every year, but with some added precautions. There are no restrictions on outdoor gatherings, but inside the home, there’s a limit of 50 people – so the big Halloween parties will have to wait until next year. Keep a 1.5 metre distance as usual, and make sure to wash your hands before heading out.

Northern Territory

Coronavirus shouldn’t affect those in Northern Territory this Halloween, but the NT government is still urging everyone to be safe. Social distancing and using hand sanitiser is still mandatory, but Trick orTtreating can go ahead as normal this year. It’s a good idea to only visit the houses in your street or local area, and to practise good hygiene.


On the 16th of October, Queenslanders could officially gather in groups of 40 both indoors and outdoors, so Halloween parties and trick or treating are good to go this year. As with the other states, using hand sanitiser and distancing is vital this Halloween.

New South Wales

Celebrating Halloween in New South Wales is going to be different this year, but that’s not going to stop the fun. Instead of greeting Trick or Treaters at the door, households participating in Halloween are encouraged to utilise their front yard instead, keeping a 1.5 metre distance.

The NSW Department for Health suggests placing hand sanitiser in the front yard for extra precautions, and urges candy to be individually wrapped and not placed in bowls. Restrictions on outdoor gatherings maintain that no more than 20 people can be gathered in one place, so be sure to stay clear of busy houses.


Good news ACT – there are no restrictions on indoor parties and outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people, so Halloween can function as normal. Aside from the usual social distancing rules, Trick or Treaters are free to go door to door; just make sure there’s plenty of hand sanitiser available.


Unfortunately for those in Melbourne, traditional Trick or Treating won’t be happening in 2020. With the current restrictions, up to 10 people from two different households can meet in a public outdoor space, so going door to door is out of the question this year.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has said that Trick or Treating may be allowed in regional Victoria, but to be on the safe side, its best to stay home this year.


Restrictions in Tasmania allow for 20 people to gather indoors or in one house, so small Halloween parties are still allowed this year. Despite this, the Tasmania Government is urging children and parents to be safe while celebrating Halloween. Instead of traditional Trick or Treating, small gatherings of friends and family members is suggested.

Trick or Treating alternatives

For some states in Australia, Halloween will be more restricted, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be cancelled. Kids of all ages can still get in the spirit of Halloween and go Trick or Treating, even if it’s not door to door.

For costumes, consider using or making a costume that incorporates a mask.

Superheros are a popular choice, but if your child wants to be a pirate or a fairy, they can still dress up and stay safe. Decorating masks for Halloween can not only teach your child about protecting against disease, but it is also a creative and fun activity that gets them excited for the spooky season.

Trick or Treating in states like Tasmania and Victoria can still be fun and entertaining. If possible, ask family members or friends to assist with a Halloween scavenger hunt in your backyard, or in a public park. Kids will still get the Halloween experience without breaking restrictions, and Halloween at home can be just as exciting. For older kids, an at home Halloween house with friends or family members can be a spooky and thrilling experience too.

For states like the Northern Territory or New South Wales where social distancing is strongly encouraged, swap out the communal candy bowl for a more creative Halloween solution.

Try hanging candy bars from a tree or balcony, making pre-packaged or wrapped lolly bags, or leaving sweets along a wall or fence for trick or treaters to collect.

Have a happy (and safe) Halloween this year.

Next time you’re in the kitchen, save those avocado pits and cabbage stalks, because these natural ingredients can turn your clothes lovely shades of pink, blue, or purple. Using food as a natural clothes dye has been practised for thousands of years. Not only is it a sustainable and chemical-free process, it’s an excellent way to make use of veggie and fruit scraps. Plus, kids will get a kick out of watching their clothes go from a plain white to a whole host of colours, and it’s easy for them to do themselves (with parental supervision, of course!).

Pick a colour

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of natural dye, and some give off surprising colours. While there are definitive foods that will give certain colours, it’s always fun to experiment with different spices and foods and see what colours arise. Here’s some pantry items that will add some colour to your wardrobe.

Pink: avocado, red cabbage, beetroot

Orange: yellow onion skins, avocado, carrot

Yellow: ground turmeric, pomegranate skins, carrot

Green: spinach

Blue: black beans, blueberries, red cabbage

Purple: blueberries, red cabbage, beetroot

The colour of the dye is dependent on several factors, including the pH level of the water, and the variations in the fruit and vegetables used, and how ripe they are. For example, some blueberries will result in a bright blue dye while others will create more of a purple colour.

Prepare the fabric

Natural dye can be strong, but it isn’t as strong as chemical dyes, so a mordant, or fixant, is used to make sure the dye attaches to the fabric. Although some dye hobbyists use ammonia and other professional mordants, household items work just as well. For using fruits dyes, soak your fabric in four cups of water and add a quarter of a cup of salt. For vegetable dyes, add in a cup of vinegar instead. Once the fabric is prepped and ready to go, it’s time to get your dye ready.

Make the dye

Fill a large saucepan with enough water to dunk the fabric in and add the fruit or vegetable of your choice. The amount of each ingredient needed will differ, but as a general rule, a larger quantity will result in a stronger dye. Let the water come to a boil, and then let it simmer. Every now and then, give the pot a stir, and within twenty to thirty minutes the colour should start to appear in the water.

If the colour isn’t exactly what you’re after, you can give it a little help. Red cabbage gives a natural purple dye but adding a little vinegar can turn it a red/pink colour. Want to turn the fabric blue? Try adding a bit of baking soda instead. When the colour is strong and to your liking, scoop out the fruit or vegetable, or use a sieve to get the pure dye. Don’t be afraid to leave it a little longer – the stronger the colour, the more powerful the dye.

Add the fabric

Give it a good stir to ensure that every part is covered in the dye, and then put a lid over it and call it a day. It is recommended that the fabric sit in the dye pot overnight for the best result, but curious kids can check out the fabric before bedtime to see how much the colour has changed. The next morning, carefully tip the dye out of the pot and gently wash the fabric.

Caring for your dyed fabric

For extra staying power, wash the fabric in the same mixture previously used as a mordant. After that, your dyed clothing is ready to be dried and worn. The natural dye will fade over an extended amount of time, so it’s recommended that the clothing or fabric is handwashed and airdried.

The creative possibilities are endless; you could even try tie-dying the fabric, or painting designs using the dye.



Coming out is terrifying. Queer people bare their souls, who they are as a person, and although every coming out is different, there is always a moment where the outcome could go either way. Everyone wants their loved ones to support them and love them for who they are. Fortunately, many gay, bi, or trans people do have supportive friends and family, but every person who has ever had to come out of the closet knows the hurt of having someone reject their very being.

Every queer person has to come to terms with the fact that their loved ones may not love them unconditionally.

The first person you come out to is yourself. After many google searches and watching Pitch Perfect way too many times, I finally admitted to myself that I liked girls and told myself that bisexual was my label. Being bisexual is in no way a ‘stepping stone’ to being a lesbian, it is an independent label that many people identify with for their entire lives. But for me, it was a safe choice, which hold onto the attraction to men and the normality it fostered for as long as I could.

However, I couldn’t ignore that my attraction to men was forced. I stumbled across the term ‘compulsive heterosexuality’ and it fit perfectly. It describes how women are conditioned to like men from a young age, and so for women who are attracted to women, it can be alienating and confusing when they find that they don’t meet society’s expectations.

I was so terrified to admit that I was a lesbian, and it was a major source of anxiety for many years. I always knew something was wrong, something was different, especially when I couldn’t love a potential boyfriend in the way he wanted. I remember lying awake at night, telling myself that if I dated him for a little while, just three months, I could end things and finally be able to live the way I wanted. I came out to myself again and again, in rear view mirrors late at night and in stowed away journals.

After years of lying to myself, it felt liberating to scream it in my car, to admit to myself that I was a lesbian, and that there was nothing wrong with me.

Before I built up to screaming my identity to the world, I had to find someone who would scream their support beside me. Whether it be a close friend or a family member, queer people always come out to people they trust first, and who they know will support them. My friends were incredibly supportive, especially since some were already a part of the LGBT+ community. There was no hesitation or doubt for them to accept me. My sister and my cousin were also readily accepting, although they still had a lot of questions.

One of the more difficult times was when I came out to my mother. Her reaction was not at all what I expected. She was shocked, and that I understood, but she also questioned whether I was really gay. I assured her that I was. She then detailed a history in my family that had only been whispered about, how a relative had come out and how my family reacted negatively to it – including my dad. She was concerned, as most parents would be, that my family would reject me, but she also told me to hide a piece of myself from them, from the world. This made me scared to be a lesbian for a very long time. It made it so difficult to love and accept myself when I knew that the people I loved most would not accept me for who I was.

The next few years brought their ups and downs. I was terrified to tell my dad, out of fear that he would react in the way that my mother feared he might, and although I tried hard to be proud of my identity, constantly trying to hide it and diminish it made me suffer. The support of my friends, being a part of a pride group at university, and the love of my partner, made the world seem a little more colourful, and when I finally told my father, it was me who was surprised. He had noticed the frequent comings and goings of a particular friend and asked what she meant to me. I was shaking and crying by the time I told him that she was my girlfriend. To my astonishment, he hugged me and told me that he loved me, and that he accepted me for who I was.

Queer people never stop coming out. Every time they hold the hand of their partner, use their preferred pronouns, or even go to the bathroom, they are telling the world who they are, and placing themselves in a vulnerable position where they might be hated or rejected. The journey to self-discovery is long and ever changing, and many queer people go through different labels and senses of self until they find the right identity.

My own coming out journey is far from over; there’s still extended family, co-workers, and people I don’t know yet, with whom I’ll need to share my sexuality with. It is a part of who I am, and although I have encountered homophobia and will most likely encounter it in the future, the world is evolving to be more accepting of queer people and relationships, and hopefully one day, homophobia will be a thing of the past.


Love and sex usually go hand in hand, but for some people, the desire simply isn’t there.

Asexuality and aromanticism are two lesser known LGBT+ identities, but awareness of these terms not only helps to quell misconceptions, but also create an accepting environment for those who identify as aro and ace.

Asexuality can be defined as the lack of sexual attraction, and aromanticism as the lack of romantic attraction, but for those identifying as one or both of these identities, it can be more nuanced than that.

Nich is a college student who has been openly identifying as both asexual and aromantic since they were sixteen. They came across the term on the internet and found that it clicked with what they were feeling. “I just forgot that sex and romance are things I’m supposed to want,” they say, “They’re like that one tv show you keep meaning to check out because you’ve heard it’s really good, but you don’t care enough to actually sit down and watch it.”

Many asexual and aromantic people find out about the terms online, but others realise their identity after speaking with aro and ace people in the community. Brittany, a 23 year old retail worker, found out about asexuality in high school after a friend confided in her that she too was asexual. “I’ve identified as asexual for two years,” she says, “But I’ve known there was something different about me for a lot longer.”

Building strong relationships is essential, and for many asexual and aromantic people, friendships are of the upmost importance. That being said, romantic and sexual relationships aren’t entirely out of the question. While aromantic and asexual people like Nich prefer to stick to platonic relationships, asexual people like Brittany can pursue romance. It all comes down to personal preference. Despite their lack of attraction, some asexual people might have sex, while some aromantic people might enter a romantic relationship.

Coming across other asexual and aromantic people is like finding a unicorn in real life, Nich says, but the ace and aro community has been nothing but supportive. Websites such as Tumblr and Reddit have fostered asexual and aromantic communities, where members can interact with other people going through the same experiences and feelings that they are, and those questioning their sexuality can go for advice. It was communities like these that helped Brittany discover her sexuality and has helped many more come to terms with their asexuality.

I realised that I was ‘supposed’ to want to have sex. That people actually got butterflies in their stomach when they saw someone they had a crush on. I realised that I hadn’t felt either of those things—and I still haven’t.

Other communities are less than accepting. Many asexual and aromantic people face exclusion and discrimination from not only heterosexual and cisgender people, but also from the LGBT+ community. Much of the prejudice towards asexual and aromantic people stems from a lack of understanding. For the majority of society, sex and romance are essential to the human experience, and so they believe asexuality and aromanticism to be celibacy, a phase, or the lack of experience in dating, which Brittany says is the biggest challenge. “I’ve dealt with backlash from people who don’t understand asexuality and disregard it entirely, or just thought it’d be something I’d get over one day when I meet someone special,” she says, “Even today, being in a loving relationship with my girlfriend, who is also asexual, I still have people ask whether I’m still asexual or if my feelings about having sex have changed.”

Asexual and aromantic people also face discrimination in a more professional setting. When Nich came out to their psychologist, they were asked to take a test determining if they had psychopathic tendencies. Up until 2013, the DSM-V listed asexuality as a sexual disorder, and many asexuals find themselves discriminated against when it comes to medical professions, who confuse their lack of sexual attraction to a non-existing sex drive. Aromantic people may also face the same challenges; they can be labelled as psychopathic or robotic for their lack of romantic attraction, which is often confused for an inability to feel love.

The biggest challenge comes from within the queer community. Despite the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA standing for asexuality and aromanticism, some queer people are vocal about their beliefs that ace and aro people are not part of the community. Nich and Brittany in particular have been called “basically straight”, “diet straight”, and have been thought to be “not queer enough” for the LGBT+ community.

It’s really hard just telling people that I’m asexual out of fear of being judged and thought of as weird, as sex is typically an important part of people’s lives.

Many members of the asexual and aromantic community have to deal with such comments on a regular basis, but like Nich and Brittany, they focus on their community, and remind themselves that there are so many others who are like them and are going through the same challenges.

Asexuality and aromanticism are valid identities that many people relate to and identity as, and learning about these identities is extremely important not just for asexual and aromantic people themselves, but for everyone else as well.

To find out more about asexuality and aromanticism, support an asexual/aromantic friend or family member, or to figure out if you might be asexual or aromantic, visit the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN).

I was born premature at 24 weeks. I weighed 500 grams – less than a loaf of bread. My father’s wedding ring could fit up to my shoulder. Before she gave birth, my mother was told to prepare for the worst; most premature babies pass away or have extreme medical conditions which impact them for their rest of their lives. If it weren’t for the diligence of the nurses and the faith of my parents, I don’t know if I would be alive today.

I stayed in the King Edward Memorial Hospital for 104 days, and for those three and a half months, the premature baby nursery became a home for my parents. They spent every possible moment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, sitting by my humidicrib until visiting hours were over.

Most parents in the ward didn’t even know if they would be able to bring their baby back home.

The doctors would give information in stages; you had to deal with one problem at a time, my father said, and not think too far ahead or focus too much on the future. You had to live in the moment and cherish each day that you got to spend with your baby.

The babies that did get to come home had severe medical issues. Emily was one of the babies who was in the intensive care unit at the same time as me. She was born at 26 weeks, and got an infection early on, which shut down the blood flow to her fingers and toes. She lost half of her fingers and most of her toes. Years later, at a playgroup, my mother would watch us playing together and see her struggling to walk or feed herself. Other babies like Emily would even lose their ears or the tips of their noses. My mum also remembered Meghan, a baby who had suffered a severe brain bleed, and as a result, now has cerebral palsy. Babies who also had serious brain bleeds would later go on to have massive learning difficulties.

There were the other medical complications. When I was first born, my skin was so thin that clothes and blankets would cause my skin to rip and tear. A plastic sheet had to be placed above me in the crib to keep me warm. I had to have intubation tubes which went up my nose and down into my lungs to help me to breathe, as my lungs hadn’t fully developed.

My parents remember the terrifying experience of watching my heart beat suddenly drop during a bradycardia. They recalled watching the heart rate monitor suddenly fall and the sound of a siren screaming through the ward. All the nurses immediately rushed to my side, reaching through the humidicrib to grab me. They had to shake my body to bring my heart rate back up. My parents would carefully watch the heart rate monitor from that moment on, and immediately let the nurses know if my heart rate declined.

Having such a traumatic event happen to you and your baby meant that many parents struggled to come to terms with what had happened. How do you cope with seeing your baby in hospital, covered in tubes, unable to hold them?

My dad was first able to hold me on Father’s Day, more than a month after I was born. He told me that he was terrified to hold me in his arms; that I was so small he was afraid he might hurt me. I was still hooked up to the large intubation tubes but was well enough that I could be held by him.

The photo is still one of his favourite pictures, and one of his most memorable Father’s Days. My dad, having to provide for our family, could only see me after work and on weekends, and so he cherished the time he got to spend with me. “I used to read to you,” he told me, “I remember reading the Iliad to you, while I sat by your crib, holding your hand.”

My mum was able to come visit me every day, and so she spent as long as she could by my side. The first thing she did each morning was to call the hospital to see how I was doing.

 We’d wake up and grab the phone, to call in, and they would say that you were fine, and I’d breathe a sigh of relief.

She used books and crochet as a way to keep busy, and concentrated on making beautiful baby clothes for me, with the softest fabric she could find. She would make a dress for big occasions, like the day that my dad first held me, or my one hundredth day in hospital. It was a tradition in the ward to bring a cake for the nurses on that day, as a way to thank them.

Other parents coped in different ways. My mum recalled a young mother with a child in the same ward, who would come up from Busselton once a week, to spend a few hours with her baby. Some parents found that distancing themselves from their baby would lessen the pain of having to see them in the hospital, while others were separated by distance. For my mum, however, seeing me every day helped her cope better.

Being at the hospital with you was the best thing for me.

As I got older and stronger, the doctors encouraged my parents to take part in taking care of me; changing my diapers, cleaning me, and holding me. My mum and dad said that that was the best medicine; being able to take care of their baby like normal parents.

When I asked my parents about the day that I was let out of hospital, they both said that they didn’t remember the day, but the feeling of finally bringing me home, and fully being a family. I came back home on oxygen, and it was around Christmas of that year that I was finally able to take off the tubes.

My parents called me a miracle baby; despite being born at 24 weeks, I had survived relatively unscathed. My hoarse voice from the intubation tubes is all I have to show for that traumatic time. I was a pin up kid for 24 weekers; healthy, alive, no learning difficulties or physical disabilities.

As annoying as it can be to explain to strangers that I definitely don’t have a cold or a sore throat, it reminds me of the struggles that my parents and the doctors and nurses went through to keep me alive, and makes me aware of how grateful I am to be healthy and alive.