• Daniella Borg counts loving grandmother as one of her many roles in life. (SBS)Source: SBS
As ‘Family Rules’ returns for season two, Borg says the show is challenging perceptions of Indigenous Australians.
Jim Mitchell

20 Nov 2018 - 3:29 PM  UPDATED 20 Nov 2018 - 3:30 PM

Daniella Borg’s positivity is striking.

Since 2004, when her husband Kevin Rule died tragically after being punched in the head, she raised her nine girls alone. Added to that, Daniella works full time as a high school community engagement officer, undertakes a Bachelor of Social Science and looks after the grandkids as well as the house.

“Sometimes we plan things in life, and it doesn’t go to plan and that’s ok,” she tells SBS’s The Guide. “There are different pathways to get to where you want to go. If one path has a road block, don’t stop, just go around the other way.”

The second season of Family Rules sees Daniella continuing to guide her adolescent and adult daughters Hannah, Jessica, Aleisha, Sharna, Kiara, Kelly, Shenika and Angela (Helen was not involved with the series this time around) in suburban Perth through ups and downs with a firm but compassionate hand.

You’re all pretty frank with each other, aren’t you? Is it hard to have those confrontations in front of the camera?

A lot of parents try not to share their bad side and their flaws because we are our own worst critics, so when we’re parenting it is a little bit nerve-racking to see yourself on TV. That’s how we learn I suppose. I just get to learn on national TV!

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got nine kids or two kids, you still have differences of opinion or that conflict, but it’s just about getting through that and that’s what we do.

This season looks at how you’re trying to study, work full time, look after the kids and grandkids and the house. How hard is it as a mum to get those windows of time for yourself?

I’m sure there are a lot of mothers who can relate to that. It is really, really difficult, and unless you’ve actually lived it, you don’t realise how difficult it can be. So it’s all about balance and allowing yourself to not be 100 per cent.

I tend to be hard on myself but I’ve learnt not to be too hard on myself. If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. It’s difficult, but I don’t give up. I just keep going.

When people ask how you juggle motherhood and work, is that a frustrating question?

It’s such a simple question but it’s so difficult to explain because there’s no manual to tell you how to juggle and how to keep yourself emotionally stable. Because there are going to be days when you just feel like crap – that’s ok because that’s human. But you learn from experience and I’ve learnt how to do it.

One thing that’s noticeable throughout the series is that you all laugh a lot. How cathartic is that for a family?

It’s just who we are. We can be on the other end of the scale as well, don’t worry about that! But you’ve just got to lighten up sometimes in a situation. You can’t change it, so it’s not worth dwelling on.

This season there are lots of ups and downs again with you and your daughters. How does the family develop, and what are some of the major things you go through?

I’ve got all the children at different ages so they’re all going through different things at the same time. One [Hannah] is at high school and so she’s learning how to manage that. We all have fear and one of the things that we do is we try to stick together in terms of supporting each other, so here we are trying to support one of the girls [Sharna] in overcoming her fear.

And then I’ve got a daughter working in a position that some may not think is that desirable being a female. [Kelly works as a fly-in fly-out worker on an offshore natural gas production facility near Broome.] I admire that, for someone to go and do that, especially a female. I put my hands together and give a clap to all the females who do that.

Seeing a real Aboriginal family on our screens is still a rarity. How important is the show in terms of educating people that you're just a normal family?

It has an ability to help contribute to a shift in society in terms of perception. By looking at the show, they can relate to some of the everyday dilemmas. Then their perceptions change and then of course their behaviour changes when they start reflecting on Aboriginal people.

There is a lot of media out there that do show, for whatever reason, the negative side of Aboriginal people and this is an opportunity to show positive things and create that shift. It’s such a privilege to be a part of that shift because we look at our family and think we’re pretty boring. But we’re just showing that we live next door to you, we’re just normal people doing normal things.

One of the threads throughout this season is education and employment. How do you see the state of opportunities for young Indigenous Australians at the moment?

There’s a lot more opportunities for young Aboriginal Australians now than ever. I think we need to grab those opportunities but before those opportunities come, we need to get our education. Education is the key, so that’s what we’re trying to promote as well, that education is something that we hold dear. Education is my passion.

What do you think your family can teach us about resilience?

It’s about things happening in our lives but we’ve got to keep moving forward. It’s ok to have that moment where you kind of fall down when you’re grieving or whatever it may be that you’re going through.

It’s also about supporting each other. You may not agree with each other and that’s ok but it’s about that support, keeping that relationship going. Have your little tiffs, get it out of the way and then get on with it. You can hold it in, but that’s not going to do anybody any good, is it?

You and the family talk about Kevin and his cultural heritage throughout Family Rules. Was that an important element of the show, to be able to include him?

A lot of women go through losing a partner through either death or separation or something that they didn’t plan. It’s mainly about not dismissing that because that helps you grow as a person, so that story needed to be told.

What did you all learn through this experience of having your life documented?

Looking from the outside in you can’t really comprehend it, so as a family when we watch ourselves on TV it’s kind of like our own personal album. Just reflecting on where we were in that part of our lives, and how we grow and how we move on like with any photo album when you’re looking back. It’s just a good self-reflection tool as well, so there are all these personal gains from it.


Watch season two of Family Rules on Wednesdays at 8:30pm on NITV. Missed the first episode? Stream it now at SBS On Demand: