Charmaine Mann, pictured with her daughters Emma Brackley (left) and Larrena Mann.
Charmaine Mann, pictured with her daughters Emma Brackley (left) and Larrena Mann. Contributed

Charmaine wins Qld Mother of the Year

CHARMAINE Mann’s home has always been open to children and by no means exclusive to her own brood of six.

The super mum, affectionately penned “Aunty Mum”, “Mum Mann”, or “Aunty Nana” by those she has touched, has always provided for any child who needed a roof over their head, a shoulder to cry or somewhere to chill until things calmed at home.

“Blood isn’t always thicker than water because you don’t always grow under the heart, you can grow in it,” Charmaine, whose own children are now adults, explains, “So it’s never been a burden or a chore to help out others. I’ve always loved children and I like to help and it would be a sad world if people didn’t help one another."

In recognition of her contributions, the Tannum Sands mum was recently announced the Queensland Mother of the Year in the Barnardos Australia’s Mother of the Year Awards 2010.

“If you can be 1000 percent shocked I was,” she laughs, “I still can’t believe it’s really happening to me.”

It was very difficult for the judges to narrow down the Queensland entries according to Barnardos Australia marketing director Glynis Sequeira. “However, Charmaine’s devotion and determination to care not only for her own family but to also open her heart and home to many other children in need won her acclaim amongst the judges.”

Never being one to judge, Charmaine assisted children with drug issues or who came from drug-affected households and successfully put them back on the 'straight and narrow'. At one stage there were 15 people in her home and, as she admits, rules were needed to ensure the household ran smoothly.

“The one main rule was that we always sat down for tea together no matter what and no matter how tight a squeeze. Everyone got a chance to talk about their day and be a part of a family circle. After all, a family that eats together stays together.”

Despite the extra mouths to feed, Charmaine never asked for Government assistance for any of the additional children she cared for. Instead she worked overtime and undertook a variety of extra jobs with the children, like delivering pamphlets and picking macadamias, to make ends meet.

“Money isn’t important. What is, though, is that all kids who come here must believe in themselves, respect themselves and leave here happy. Another thing is that they’re not allowed to hate anyone,” she muses, “you can hate what someone does, but you still have to love them.”

Celebrating its 15th year, Barnardos Australia’s Mother of the Year Awards is the only national event that recognises the achievements of mothers and their enormous contribution to the Australian community.

Charmaine will attend the national announcement gala dinner at The Ivy in Sydney alongside her family and seven other state and territory finalists on Thursday, 6 May 2010.  There, one will be named the Barnardos Australia’s Mother of the Year 2010.

Regardless of the outcome, Charmaine insists it won’t change her and she’ll keep helping children forever. “We all have our worries and our troubles. You don’t get perfect balance, but you’ve got to know how to role with the punches.”

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