real life

In one tragic moment, Tenille's family of four grew to a family of nine.

Tenille Taylor was busy raising her two-year-old daughter Amber and days away from welcoming her second child with fiancé Chris when tragedy struck.

The 22-year-old Perth woman’s mum Shelley Whelan was killed when her car plunged into a Bunbury harbour on 11 March.

Her mother’s death was devastating, but it’s the “selfless” decision Tenille made next that would irreversibly alter the course of her life.

Shelley’s death meant her youngest children Reef, 17, Indigo, 13, and Kane, 12 were without a guardian. After talking things over with her older sisters Chantelle and Ebony, Tenille made the decision to take in her brothers and sisters.

So Reef, Indigo and Kane, along with 20-year-old sister Shannon and her partner, made the move from Bunbury to Perth to squeeze into their older siblings four-bedroom, one-bathroom rental home.

Adding to the pressure on Tenille further was that in the midst of planning her mother’s funeral, she gave birth to her son Chayse.

Tenille (centre) took in her siblings Reef, Shannon, Indigo and Kane. (Image via GoFundMe.)

Tenille's best friend Ashleigh Needs said the 22-year-old didn't hesitate before she took on the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings - even though it meant putting her own goals aside.


"She's amazing. Everything time I talk to her I'm in awe," Ashleigh told Mamamia.

"She's now the one in charge of getting everyone to school, they're asking her for permission to do things and she's making these decisions.

"She's had to disrupt the patterns of her own children to focus on (her siblings)."

The full-time mum, who had planned to study accounting at TAFE and was saving up for a house deposit with her fiancé Chris Gunning, has now had to put any spare cash towards medical bills, school fees and increased water, power and grocery bills.

Listen: Sallyanne Atkinson on juggling a high profile career with raising five kids.

Seeing these costs add up, Ashleigh urged her friend to seek help. Her family and friends have helped where they can, but Ashleigh has now turned to the wider community for support - something she said Tenille was reluctant to do.

"She told me, 'I feel really uncomfortable asking for money when people are in worse situations than me'. She was so reluctant to seek help because she thought others were more deserving," she said.

After convincing Tenille she was very much deserving of support, Ashleigh set up a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $20,000.

Ashleigh said the money would go towards all of Tenille's increased costs as well as the cost of a minivan or people-mover Tenille and Chris hope to purchase to cart around their now enormous family.

The supportive friend, who has known Tenille her whole life, described her as quiet but also "courageous", while acknowledging the sacrifice she was making for her brother and sisters.

"It's hard to fathom just how massive it is. At the moment it's surreal, it doesn't seem like it's permanent, but it is. She's changing her life and she's planning for a future with (her siblings) now."

You can donate to help Tenille Taylor and her family here.