What do you get when a film crew captures ten bright, bold and beautiful Aussie women living under the one roof?
That’d be Family Rules, SBS’ gem of a reality TV show that gives viewers an “exclusive insight into modern Indigenous family life.”
The show follows proud Noongar woman Daniella Rule and her nine daughters — ranging in age from late teens to early 30s — as they grow, overcome challenges and, on occasion, fight over who stole whose favourite top.
“Yes, it’s been very chaotic,” Sharna, Daniella’s fourth-youngest daughter, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“Arguing over the shower early in the morning, fighting over clothes; you name it, we’ve done it. What you see on the TV is not even half of what we’ve had to deal with. But I wouldn’t have it any other way; I believe the chaos makes our family beautiful,” the 24-year-old adds.
With two seasons under their belt and a third coming soon, Kiara — who at 26 is the fifth-youngest Rule sibling — still gets a laugh out of all the ‘insignificant arguments’ captured in earlier episodes.
“You look back thinking, ‘Why the heck did I get angry about that?’” she says.
Second-eldest sister Shenika only has one major Family Rules regret so far: “Just some of my clothing choices!” the 31-year-old admits.
‘You only live once’
Season three will see single mum Daniella — her husband Kevin sadly passed away in 2004 — turn the big 5-0 and throw caution to the wind.
“My new quote is something I learnt recently off my girls, ‘YOLO’: ‘You only live once,’” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“So I’m trying new things, for example, I had an oyster and raw quail egg shot recently for the first time ever,” she adds.
Between working at a local Perth high school, finishing off her final year of university and eyeing off Post Graduate study, Daniella has a lot on her plate but this super mum just takes things one day at a time.
“It has always been about doing the best I can do, at any given moment,” she says.
“However, there were many times when things seemed so difficult; I had to learn that it’s ok if I messed up or when I couldn’t afford certain things. I had to learn to allow myself to grow too. But at the end of the day I learnt that if I am happy, my girls were happy.”
‘Family is everything’
Even though some of her older girls have grown up and moved across the country — or even just nearby — to start their own lives, Daniella is the glue that binds the Rules together regardless of distance.
“Family is everything,” she says. “It’s the little things in life that matter the most and it’s these memories that we will hold dear.”
When all nine daughters manage to return to the nest, Daniella’s mum Nan Doreen will often order them off their phones and into the car to visit a special place or participate in a sacred ceremony.
While some of the younger girls may grumble at first, they know that listening to and learning from older family members is ‘crucial’.
“It’s important to keep these connections strong because our elders have so much knowledge on culture and life. It’s crucial that young adults (like myself) gain a great understanding of it all so it can be passed down to future generations,” explains Sharna.
For Kiara, who lives and studies in Melbourne, her relationship with her extended family is ‘even more important’.
“The longer you are away from home to blurrier some things get. It's so important for me to take it upon myself to go back to country and connect back with everything. Our elders are our libraries and more; we learn everything from them,” she says.
Mum-of-three Shenika — she welcomes her third bub in season three — credits her ‘strength as an Aboriginal mum’ to the women who came before her.
She wants Family Rules audiences to come away with an understanding that there’s no single stereotype of an Indigenous Australian family.
“Aboriginal families come in all shapes and forms. We have our ups and downs like all families,” she says.
Family Rules season three premieres 8 pm Sunday 5 May on NITV (Channel 34).