The Case Of The French Street Flasher

Once upon a time, there was a particular Asian woman who lived in my apartment block. One day, as she was heading out, she noticed one of her neighbours hiding behind a tree, and as she walked past, he flashed at her.

This happened on a number of occasions, but for whatever reason, she never confronted or reported him – maybe because she was a renter and he was a homeowner and thus a member of the strata committee – I don’t know. 

She was distressed and traumatised and told some people about it, and she did her best every day to avoid him.

Other people found out about his behaviour, and they crossed the road so they wouldn’t have to encounter him and lose their appetite. 

Until one day, he did it to a woman who responded by mocking his manhood.

That was the last report of The French Street Flasher’s activities in our neighbourhood.

This all happened a few years ago, and I would never have known about this until an incident this week.

As I was stepping out with Baby Noah, one of my neighbours accosted me, invaded my personal space, pointed his finger and yelled in my face – 

  • The day before, he had heard a banging sound on two occasions – which is the sound of Noah playing on his spinning board for about 2 minutes – at 8am and at 6pm.This was what he meant (and he DOESN’T live directly below me, fyi) –
  • I MUST stop it because it’s annoying him
  • My son is out of control and I have to learn to discipline him

This was a man with whom I had been civil for the last 3 years – I’ve gifted him homemade Chinese New Year cookies, and given him countless packs of free sausages, and even briefly dropped in at his apartment.

So, mustering every ounce of diplomacy in my bones (ie. zero), I told him – 

  • 8am & 6pm are daylight hours, so we’re not contravening any strata laws
  • Come and talk to me if he hears that noise at 3am, but stay away otherwise
  • Did he know that Noah can’t speak and is medically-classified as severely disabled
  • Take Noah for ONE day and then come talk to me about discipline
  • I fought the doctors for 217 days for Noah’s right to live when he was in hospital, I wasn’t about to take this kind of intimidation lying down

What did he do? He backed off on the basis that “he didn’t realise Noah was disabled”. 

Folks, this is rubbish – people play loud music during the day and drill holes in walls and whatever else they do – and he doesn’t complain, and shouldn’t.

This kid plays for 2 minutes TOTAL on the spinning board, and this guy tries to put a stop to it – whether because he thinks we Asian women are too meek to fight back (thanks to his past career as a flasher) or whatever.

So yeah, I never would have given this man a second thought except for the occasional friendly neighbourly gift-giving. But thanks to that encounter, he got on my radar, and within the same day, I found out about his extra-curricular activities. So I’m going to remind him I know his secret next time he tries to throw his weight around.

As full-time carers of people with special needs, we are constantly under stress.

Taking Noah anywhere is a stressful activity.

He puts himself in danger by running into oncoming traffic.

He knocks food and drink off the table, that’s within his reach. 

He can’t talk so he smacks other kids and they get upset.

He gets bullied by other kids in the park because he’s still in diapers and he looks different.

Our home is our sanctuary – at least, he gets to play within our four walls without being judged by society, and without getting himself or others in trouble. 

So yeah, I get offended when Noah can’t even play by himself at home without some failed hobby-flasher trying to intimidate us. 

Now with Chinese New Year coming up, the question remains whether instead of pineapple cookies, I should get this guy a trenchcoat.


Sometimes I Fall Apart

I received a call from the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) this week. It was about my requested review of their decision to slash Noah’s support budget by over 40%. 

After eight months of waiting, I had just been told the day before, that it’d been denied. Matthew (aka “Bryant” as he called himself on the phone) from the NDIA had said he was rejecting it on the grounds that the 3-4 hours of funded weekly support I was asking for, falls under “parental responsibility”.

Now, someone else at the NDIA was on the phone. Carly said she had seen my communications with Matthew/Bryant and she didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t know who Matthew was (she thought he worked for ME), and she wanted to know why I wanted the extra funding. 

All the paperwork had already been submitted – therapist reports, assessments, my own personal letter describing my situation – but she wanted me to tell her directly. 

I had just come home from dropping off Noah at a centre, where I saw him being isolated, bullied and mocked by some kids, and I was in the middle of typing a complaint about it to the management, because it wasn’t the first time it had happened before my eyes. 

People fail to appreciate the fact that Noah, being non-verbal, can never tell me how his day has been. I don’t know how often he gets ostracised, laughed at, avoided, etc. because he can’t speak up. So it makes me angry.

I was angry when I took the call from Carly. She had all the information in their system but she wanted me to explain why I felt I deserved the 3 hours per week I was asking for.

So I had to tell her again, which I hate to do, because it makes it sound like I don’t appreciate Noah – and those of you who know me know he’s the light of my life.

I told her that he needs 2-on-1 support when we’re out and about – he runs off without notice, sometimes onto the road; he runs into the ocean when we’re at the beach; he punches me in the head and tries to knock the table over when we’re out at a restaurant; he screams in distress when we’re in social situations.

And as he gets bigger and stronger, the punches hurt more, and it’s harder to catch up with him when he slips away.

I told her that I couldn’t go anywhere because he gets destructive; how I was invited to a lunch gathering, a 90-minute round trip away, and had to leave immediately because he tried to knock the food over and destroy the table settings. 

How, as a result of this continued inability to take him out in social settings, I decided to be resourceful, to not accept social isolation, so I invited people over to my apartment on the weekend, and he started screaming so that I had to ask some party guests to take him to the park for awhile, and that he screamed again when he got back, but I just had to smile and pretend everything was under control.

How even at charity-funded events, he needs 2-on-1 support, otherwise I can’t go, and how babysitting for special needs kids costs substantially more than for regular kids, especially on weekends. 

We went on a charity boat ride in the south coast last summer; the boat ride was free, but the bill for the support worker I hired to help with Noah – $388.50.

So we don’t go anywhere.

Matthew/Bryant in his decision, said he considers the fact that Noah attends school to be adequate social participation for him, and adequate respite for me. He ignored the fact that I work full-time hours in my business, and he failed to consider that social life in Australia occurs primarily on weekends.

I told Carly about Noah’s 217 days in hospital where the doctors tried to convince me to let him die, and how that’s stayed with me, ie. that because I chose otherwise, it was on me to put up with my current situation – which matched their decision now, ie. it’s “parental responsibility” because it’s technically my “fault” that I decided to fight for my son’s life. 

Carly said she wasn’t interested in past experiences, she wanted to know our current circumstances. All I was trying to convey was the death-by-a-thousand-cuts that we, as full-time carers, have to deal with. The mental, emotional and financial toll we endure, because there’s no respite. 

I am outraged that our government should boast about the NDIS budget surplus; I’m outraged that they spend the funding on lawyers and tribunals to fight against carers who are under such immense, sustained stress that they are unable to coherently articulate their stories, who lack the experience and the expertise to navigate the legal hurdles and jargons that are thrown at them. 

I’m outraged that they think the money is better spent to pay for people like “Bryant” who even admitted in our first conversation a couple of weeks prior, that he wasn’t entirely sure of the rules but he was leaning towards rejecting my request (which he ultimately did). I’m outraged that their right hand is clueless about what their left hand is doing, so that when Carly called me the next day, she didn’t even know who “Bryant” was, when in fact he was from the same agency.

So I fell apart, and I started hyperventilating. Carly said to leave it with her, she was going to “help me” get the funding I requested, and that she would call me back. 

So, despite the traumatic conversation with Carly, I saw a glimmer of hope.

Then she called me back an hour later. Sorry, it looks like yes, Bryant does work for us, and since he’s already made the decision, there’s nothing she can do.

So I fell apart again.

This is what we, as carers of people with special needs, have to deal with, here in this lucky country.

I HATE being vulnerable, but this had to be told.

I’m not seeking pity, I’m seeking justice & accountability for Noah and for all the other people caught up in the trainwreck that is the NDIS.


PS. And for those of you who think I’m being a bit rich in asking for the funding, this was what someone who works closely with the NDIS wrote me after the decision –

…we don’t make the final decisions about funding but based on the evidence you provided, previous decisions in similar situations, and my interpretation of the legislation, I can’t understand why the funding has not been approved.

Update: shortly after I published this story, the media picked up on it and it was covered on Kidspot (which is part of As a result, I received a call within 2 days from the NDIA to advise they had reversed their decision, increased my funding beyond what I requested, and extended Noah’s plan, so that I don’t have to deal with another budget review for 2 years.


Noah’s Journey

Here’s a very rough video compilation that I uploaded back when baby Noah first came out of hospital in December 2012, after spending the first 217 days of his life there.

Most of my online shares to date have revolved around our post-hospital life, but that’s only part of the story.  When I’m ready, I’ll tell you about what happened during Noah’s 7+ months in hospital, including my confrontations with the medical staff to keep him alive, and the lead-up to my decision to close my restaurant to take care of him.

Who Is Baby Noah?

The body of this post was written in early 2015 for a media outlet requesting a spiel about baby Noah, then reposted on my main website ( with the following intro >>

Some of you have followed Noah’s story since Day One but many others don’t know about him (as evidenced by the regularity with which I get asked when I’ll open another restaurant – FYI I quit my restaurant because of his illness).

The following is written in the third person but by me (I like when people ask whether I write my own content because it presupposes that I can actually afford writers).


Born in May 2012 with Down Syndrome, non-immune hydrops, AVSD and duodenal atresia, Noah spent the first 7 months of his life in NICU (neonatal ICU) and PICU (pediatric ICU) at Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital.



Against all odds, Noah recovered from a prolonged bout with hydrops fetalis – a rare condition with no fixed cure that according to the doctors was not survivable for Down Syndrome babies.

During his time in the ICU Noah also underwent a lifesaving bowel surgery and two open heart surgeries along with a number of other exploratory procedures.



Noah’s condition improved gradually and in November 2012, his mom raised the possibility with his doctors, of having him home by Christmas.

Because of his stormy and complex medical history, there were numerous medical teams looking after different aspects of his care.

Confronted with this request from Noah’s mom, all the medical teams rallied together and coordinated their efforts to help Noah meet the milestones required for him to be discharged.

One week before Christmas 2012, Noah was finally considered stable enough and he made it home from Westmead after spending his first 217 days in hospital.

Video of Baby Noah’s Homecoming >>

Today, Noah can often be seen in his portable cot at places where his mom runs her Malaysian food business, winning the hearts of customers and passers-by with his jovial and happy demeanour.



His mom, Jackie M, has made it her mission to help raise awareness of Down Syndrome and to provide inspiration and moral support to others and in particular to single parents through Noah’s story.


Who Complained?

Some people have suggested on social media that those behind these acts of harassment are possibly jealous stallholders or business rivals. I don’t think so; in all my years of trading at markets I’ve always found my fellow stallholders to be among my staunchest supporters.

For as long as these bullies remain anonymous, I can only speculate on their psychological makeup (let’s face it; calling the police because you don’t like seeing a kid obviously having a great time with his mom at work is pretty hardcore).

I know nothing about the person who spent A MONTH gathering signatures for a petition at Orange Grove Market.

But I know this much about the people behind the two occasions specific to Concord Hospital Market:

The woman who threatened to report me for child abuse last year, according to an email from the head of marketing at the hospital, was not a part of the hospital community; she was there for training for the day, from another hospital >>

In this latest incident where the police were called, I’m told it WAS a hospital staffer, BUT one who doesn’t usually work on Thursdays (market day), so it was her first encounter with Noah.

In other words, NEITHER of these people are part of the market community.

They chose to judge my situation based on a fleeting, one-off observation (OMG child in cot while mom is cooking , therefore this woman needs to go to prison).

They showed their bigotry when they opted to remain ignorant rather than educate themselves on the facts.

The hospital market regulars have seen and interacted with Noah for years and they’re not the ones calling the cops. 

These are some of the patrons of Concord Hospital Market – doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. I posted this picture on Instagram months ago (for a laugh) with a caption that said something like – “You know you’re at Concord Hospital Market when…”


They’re healthcare professionals who, more than probably any other segment of society, would know if Noah was in distress.

On top of all this, should he get attacked by tigers or other imaginary creatures, we are in the grounds of a HOSPITAL.

Given all the facts, are you honestly that concerned about my child’s welfare that you would call the police?

Or are you so malicious that you actually hope I’d get arrested and have my child removed from my care?

Every time this story blows up online, there’s the occasional comment that aligns with the psyche of these bullies.

Some examples of the points they bring up (these are from actual Facebook comments over the last few days; I’m labelling them as trolls since it’d be unkind to post their real names) –

TROLL – This has nothing to do with his Down Syndrome; maybe he was too close to the cooking area.

Response –

  1. You obviously have never seen Noah at the market or you would know his cot is OUTSIDE the tent, facing the side where the customers are served, ie. where no cooking is done.

    Remember, the police did their due diligence, checked out everything and found I did NOTHING WRONG.

    Also, making vague accusations based on non-existent facts is really unbecoming of someone employed in academia.
  2. Does it have anything to do with his Down Syndrome? I don’t know since these instigators are anonymous. I’ll tell you this much though – many current and former stallholders have personally contacted me to say –
    • they raised their kids at the markets
    • the kids loved it
    • the public loved it
    • nobody ever complained

The only point of difference – Noah has Down Syndrome. I don’t care whether you think his disability means he needs extra attention; it is still discrimination.

TROLL – 5 year old kids, even with a mental age of 18 months, need more stimulation than being in a cot all day.

Response –

  1. He’s NOT in his cot all day; he gets offered plenty of breaks which he usually REJECTS since he prefers to absorb his environment and interact with the public from his cot.
  2. You’re generalising based on never having spent one single minute with my child, compared to me, his mom and his greatest advocate. YOU SANCTIMONIOUS TWAT.

(I promise you this next one was a real comment, albeit paraphrased since this woman, a teacher at an elite private school, ended up deleting everything she said.)

TROLL – Why doesn’t she send him to childcare? All working parents send their kids to childcare. I have to pay $140 per day for childcare. As a single mum she gets more benefits than all of us.

Response –

  1. Let me get this straight; your employer won’t allow you to bring your kid to work, therefore nobody is allowed to take their kid to work. Right.
  2. Why do you hold such resentment towards single moms, especially ones working to break out of the cycle of welfare dependency?
  3. Since when was childcare the only non-criminal option for working parents?


As society grapples with issues regarding workplace flexibility and parents re-entering the workforce, these elitist trolls remain hellbent on maintaining the status quo. Why?

The market regulars accept Noah and engage with him; some like to tell me about their own experiences of living with disability.

One woman lost her Down Syndrome baby many years ago, so she brings small gifts for him.

Another has mosaic Down Syndrome and similarly feels connected to Noah.  

Yet another can’t stop regaling me with the latest exploits of his teenage grandson, who has Down Syndrome.

These older folks remember the days when people with disability were kept out of sight of the general public; they think it’s wonderful that I bring Noah with me.

Here’s an idea – next time, before you gripe about why Noah isn’t in childcare instead of being out with me, maybe ask yourself whether some people might think that’s your sugar-coated, guilt-free way of saying he should be in institutionalised care.



Petition Update – General Manager of Concord Hospital Responds

I posted this directly in the petition yesterday but thought I should reshare it here as well, in case it was missed –

OCT 12, 2017 — Earlier today, the General Manager of Concord Hospital, Dr. Steevie Chan, came to see me and very graciously expressed his unequivocal support for my continued presence at the market and for Noah’s right to be there. He said a lot of other things but I don’t want to inadvertently misquote him. Suffice it to say that I no longer feel as if my market stall operation is in jeopardy. Thank you so much for those who have signed the petition and please continue to show your support so we can help raise awareness and send a message to the outliers that this kind of display of intolerance is unacceptable.



I am humbled by the thousands who have expressed their support since I started the petition less than 3 days ago, and grateful for the outreach by Dr. Steevie Chan and Concord Hospital.

In this day and age we pay a lot of lip service to issues around workplace flexibility, parents returning to the workforce and reducing welfare dependency among single parents. That’s why it’s important to continue to share this petition – it’s so that others who come after me may see that society as a whole backs their initiatives rather than try to hamper them through the kind of malicious actions like what I have encountered in my situation.

Noah’s Schedule

I don’t like playing the pity card about what it’s like to be a single parent raising a special needs kid.

Please don’t take this as an attempt to elicit sympathy; this is to show those who doubt my parenting obligations that in fact, Noah is anything but neglected.

This is Noah’s typical schedule –

Mondays & Tuesdays – 2 full days at Bronte Early Education Centre with dedicated support worker.

Wednesdays – Fortnightly visits from a special needs keyworker to assess and plan Noah’s ongoing developmental needs. Special needs playgroup from 10-12 if we have no other plans for the day.

Thursdays & Fridays – 2 full days of preschool in a supported environment with in-house speech therapist, child psychologist and occupational therapist. 

Fridays – Fortnightly speech therapy

Sundays – Church & Creche/Sunday School

This is in addition to revolving door hospital appointments and diagnostic assessments covering all aspects of his medical and developmental needs –

  • cardiologist
  • pediatrician
  • GP
  • sleep specialist
  • hearing tests, eyesight tests, physical therapy, dental work, IQ tests etc.

Noah starts kindergarten at a special needs school next year. His opportunity to experience the world outside the coccoon of special needs therapy is going to lessen significantly once that happens.

I don’t just bring him along to the markets because special needs childcare is expensive and hard to come by (which it is).

I do it also so that he has the opportunity to experience the real world, remain integrated in society, interact with the general public, and observe mommy at work.  Most importantly, he thrives at the market, as you can see from the photos I’ve posted here and on Instagram.

Noah thinks he lives a fabulous life. He thinks he is a little prince and the world is his oyster.  Why would anyone presume to know otherwise?


Enough Is Enough

On 28 September 2017, two police officers showed up at my weekly Concord Hospital market stall and told me that someone had filed a report about my Down Syndrome child being with me at work.

This was not the first time some anonymous member of the public had lodged a complaint about Noah’s presence at my stall; two years previously, I hit the news when another anonymous campaigner launched a petition to remove him from another market where I had operated for 14 years. I subsequently quit that stall, which leaves me with Concord Hospital Market as the one last remaining weekly event where I earn an income from selling Malaysian food.

At Concord Hospital, around this time last year, a woman came up and yelled at me for “child abuse” and said that she was going to report me to the authorities. I filmed our interaction and ended up being invited on television to talk about it.

Every time I post about this on social media, the average person is perplexed about what the problem is. What’s wrong with a child staying with his mom at work? Why do people get so worked up about it? On what basis would they be lodging their complaint? Some people probably assume I’m doing something wrong to get this kind of attention.

In fact when the story came out on the front page of The Daily Mail 2 years ago, some of the commenters suggested this was a publicity stunt by me looking for my 15 minutes of fame. Others are indignant that I would think I’m entitled to bring my kid to work when they don’t have that privilege (this one always stumps me because it’s so obvious – the difference between my situation and theirs is that I’m my own boss).

The fact is, efforts to thwart my integration of my child with my business have been taking place in more subtle forms since way before these incidents. I understand from my fellow stallholders that people gripe to them about Noah’s presence at the markets. They wonder why I’m not home looking after him or why he’s not in childcare. As if he’s better off with strangers for 8 hours than with his mom in an environment he absolutely loves.

Except for the one woman last year who yelled at me, nobody has had the wherewithal to confront me directly.

Throughout all these years, I’ve tried to address this issue with some level of restraint and diplomacy. I’ve tried to assume these people’s motives are pure but misguided. I’ve suggested it’s probably a cultural issue; that some Westerners find the idea of kids in a work environment to be offensive and an example of poor parenting. I’ve figured in their lack of understanding of my child’s disability, they assume he’s not getting the stimulation he needs to thrive.

My frustration stems from these people’s refusal to engage me respectfully to find out my story. They hide behind a wall of anonymity so I never really know the real motivations behind their actions. I decided to provoke a conversation, so I put up this sign the following week at my stall. Halfway through the day, I was told by the market organisers to pull down the sign based on a complaint by someone at the hospital.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m done with diplomacy and I’m done with being a sitting duck for malicious anonymous campaigners.

When I quit my other market stall 2 years ago, one person who had experienced disability discrimination in her own life posted on my Facebook page. She begged me to stay and fight. She said that I have a voice and that I need to use it to speak out for those who don’t. She’s right. This website may be about my baby Noah and our story, but I hope it helps other people out there who are or will be facing these kinds of obstacles in their own lives.

Let’s do this.

Sign the petition >>