Kardashians no match for Daniella and her daughters

Daniella Borg (centre) with her daughters Kiara Rule and Shenika Bennell at the SBS-NITV launch in Sydney.

They’ve been called the black Kardashians. But a family of nine beautiful daughters raised by their mother and about to feature in a new, fly-on-the-wall television series reject the comparison.

The six-part series called Family Rules follows the lives of the Rule sisters who range in ages from 12 to 29.

The sisters were raised in an outer Perth suburb by their mother Daniella Borg on her own after their father, Kevin Rule, died tragically in 2004.

Ms Borg, a Noongar woman, says there have been comparisons with the Kardashians, the first family of US reality television, but there’s no similarity.

“We don’t think of ourselves as anything like the Kardashians, but I take my hat off to the Kardashians actually because it isn’t easy to be in front of the camera and people don’t realise that until they experience that themselves,” she said.

“Love or hate them, their job isn’t easy by any means.

“We’ve had people say ‘the black Kardashians’ and things like that. We just laugh at it, but at the end of the day we are telling our story based on our life experiences and what we go through as a family.

“And we’re nowhere near as fancy as the Kardashians.”

Family Rules took centre stage in Sydney this week as SBS and NITV previewed their big shows for next year.

The series will begin screening on NITV from January 9. Its producers hope to eventually take the series overseas.

Ms Borg says she is proud of her nine daughters who all have distinct personalities.

“Life would be boring if they were all the same personality,” she says.

Eldest daughter Angela Williams, 29, is a singer-songwriter who has supported pop star Jessica Mauboy. She is married and recently gave birth to her first child, daughter Chloe.

Second daughter Shenika Bennell, 27, is a model who finished 10th in reality television show The Face judged by supermodel Naomi Campbell.

She is married and has two young children, Harlem, six, and baby Kai.

Daughter No.3 is 26-year-old Helen, the quiet sister in the family. She works in a shop, plans to study teaching at university and is engaged to be married. She has two children Amalia, seven, and baby Jon.

Fun-loving Kelly, 23, is daughter No.4. She is a fly-in, fly-out worker on an oil rig.

Middle daughter Kiara, 22, lives in Melbourne and is in her second year of a double degree in anthropology and business at Monash University.

Daughter No.6 is 20-year-old Sharna, who is studying for a Bachelor of Education at Curtin University in Perth.

Daughters seven and eight, Aleisha, 17, and Jessica, 15, are completing their schooling. The youngest daughter, 12-year-old Hannah, is in her first year of high school.

Ms Borg is an Aboriginal Indigenous Education Officer at the high school where her youngest daughters are students.

She was 16 when she met her late partner Kevin Rule, a Ngadju man, and was 17 when they had their first child.

Ms Borg was left to raise their nine girls alone when Mr Rule died after being punched in the face at the Norseman Hotel in outback WA. Hannah was just a few weeks old.

The circumstances of his death were explored in a 2009 documentary, Courting with Justice.

Ms Borg says her family was approached to make Family Rules after her eldest daughter was the subject of a 2015 documentary, Angela’s Rules, shown on NITV in 2015.

“We couldn’t believe somebody out there wanted to do a series on us because we just thought ‘we’re just a family from Midland’,” Ms Borg says.

“On any given day it can be crazy so why would people want to be interested in that!

“Those were the questions we were asking ourselves and we just got together and we thought ‘why not?’

“It was an opportunity to share our story and along the way hopefully enjoy it as we did and maybe it will change perceptions out there and stereotypes as well.”

Ms Borg says there’s no secret to successfully raising nine daughters.

“You learn every day,” she says. “I’m still learning. I’m not the expert at raising kids by no means. I just did what I had to do at the time and the years have just gone by doing what I have to do.

“There’s no real secret. You just have to have your values and instill them in your kids and know that every day something can happen but you just learn from it.”

Ms Borg, who is seen in the series emphasising the importance of education to her girls, says she doesn’t know what the odds are of having nine daughters.  She admires each of them in their own right.

“I feel blessed,” she says. “I think there is a reason I had nine girls. I’m really thankful I have nine healthy children, and then they are all girls.”

For the making of the documentary, camera crews followed the family for much of the year.

She says it turned heads when they went out to shopping centres and other public places with a camera crew in tow, but they got used to the attention.

Ms Borg says the family hopes the series will make a difference.

“People can see that journey of an Aboriginal family of girls and change some of the assumptions out there about Aboriginal people,” she says.

“We are all unique. This is just our story from Midland.”

Series executive producer and Perth filmmaker Karla Hart, a Noongar woman, came up with the idea for the series.

Ms Hart says the Rules “are made for television”.

“They are engaging but they are so inspiring as well,” she says.

“They are very inspiring young women. I feel they represent so many of us as mothers, as sisters, as women who have one foot in this urban world and another foot in our cultural world and our responsibilities to our people.”

Ms Hart says they will help overturn stereotypes.

“We still face stereotypes every single day in our own country,” she says.

“We’re painted with the same brush. There’s often the stigma of unemployed, uneducated, criminals. All of that stuff which even saying it sounds so stupid.

“But it is still so real and prevalent in our community and society here in Australia. It’s still very racist.

“These young ladies, they are working, they are studying hard, they travel, they take care of their kids. They are amazing role models.

“Daniella is a single mum with nine children and she’s only got a couple left to graduate and they are from a humble background and there they are doing it like so many Aboriginal people across Australia.

“But unfortunately many people choose to see the negativity. I think this is a fantastic example of a true representation of who our people are and our resilience.”

Ms Hart says the series is “a deep access documentary” rather than the Kardashian-style of reality television.

“I love all types of television and I do watch the Kardashians,” she says.

“But this is not technically termed a reality show. It’s deep access documentary. Because it’s more than reality. It’s real life people and real issues. “It’s more in depth, I feel, than your trashy reality shows.”

Wendy Caccetta

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