Launched in September 2012, Our Children Australia is the nation’s first website providing separated parents with a platform to communicate and store information relating to their children in a secure and neutral environment.
Our Children Australia allows children from separated families to maintain loving relationships with both parents and takes away the burden of having to act as the “messenger” between the parents. By providing parents the tools necessary to communicate and store important information regarding their children, they are no longer compelled to communicate through them.
As a family lawyer it became increasingly clear to Lorrie Brook that the resources available to separated parents were inadequate and that many often reverted to using their children to communicate. In these circumstances, children are often caught between arguments and are made to choose a side.
“It was seeing the impact that this can have on children that made me want to improve the manner in which separated parents communicate and thus Our Children Australia was born. It is the first of its kind in the Australian market. There are no other websites specifically designed for the challenges that separated parents face here,” says Brook.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show there were over 23,000 divorces in Australia involving children under the age of 18 years in 2011. Brook hopes to gain 20 to 40 percent share of this market.
Our Children Australia is entirely self-funded. Given how specific the target market is, discussions about potential investors only ended in hesitation.
It took Brook two and a half years to transform the initial concept into a marketable product, with much of the time spent on finalising the design of the site and the features it would offer to separated parents. Once she solidified her vision, she engaged a website developer to turn her ideas into a reality; and has thus far spent approximately AUD$50,000 on the build the product.
The business is currently being marketed through a variety of forums while Brook is able to determine where she gets the greatest return. Radio interviews; newspaper and magazine articles; Facebook, Google+ and printed advertisements have also been in their growth strategies.
“From a professional perspective, we have spoken with a number of family lawyers and mediators to ensure that they are aware of our service and then suggest the service to their clients in return,” says Brook.
She implemented a subscription based model where users pay on a monthly (AUD$9.90) or annual (AUD$99) basis for the use of the site.
Brook’s proudest moments have been witnessing the site’s user-base grow rapidly in just one year. Though her biggest challenge was moving into the online space with no prior experience in online businesses.
“Prior to starting www.ourchildren.com.au, I had only been involved in traditional “shop front” business and moving to an online site was a huge change. Aside from cash-flow the biggest challenge has been convincing people that whilst this is different to what we are used to – when helping separated parents communicate – this is a great resource for them and will and can help them in the long run,” she says.
Brook plans to increase the services that the site offers and add resources to further assist parents in their separation and divorce.
“I genuinely believe that www.ourchildren.com.au can help children and parents alike. Our mission is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to have a loving and meaningful relationship with both parents by giving their parents the ability to communicate effectively and improve their co-parenting relationship,” she says.
Visit www.ourchildren.com.au for more information.