Melbourne is a child-friendly city.The essential, but often overlooked infrastructure is in place for parents with prams (ramps instead of stairs, specially marked parking spaces in the supermarket carparks and so on). Additionally, there are plenty of activities for families with young – and older – children.Melbourne is a city that loves its festivals, free events, and family entertainment. As well as the yearly traditions like Moomba (a water festival that lasts for three days and is packed with rides, displays, fireworks and entertainment), you will find inexpensive activities happening almost every day and certainly every weekend.
Attractions like the Collingwood Children´s Farm (an inner urban animal experience best suited to young children) and the everyday attraction of the Skate Park in Alexandra Gardens on the Yarra (a social hub for older kids) keep everyone in the family interested and happy.
If your children are older, particularly if they are teenagers, you can feel comfortable with them being out without your supervision. Speaking from personal experience, Melbourne is extremely safe for young adults and teens, as long as normal precautions are taken (staying in a group or pairs and not being obviously intoxicated). Young adults and teens will probably appreciate being able to move about freely with their friends and you may appreciate the peace and quiet!
Australians are more physically reserved than European and Latin American cultures, so you will not find many people feeling comfortable about touching your young children. They will have no qualms about accosting you in the market to coo over your baby though – and if you are living in a suburb with a high Greek or Italian population, your little ones are very likely to be adopted by the local Fruit Shop owner and quickly made to feel part of the community.
As accents of all nations are common in Melbourne, your children will have few problems assimilating – they will not be labelled ´different.´ They will, however, need to come to grips with the Australian tendency to tease mercilessly. This is almost like a ´hazing´ test of their character. If they are able to laugh at themselves and give as good as they get, they will be fine. If they are a little more shy, or feel as if this treatment is intended to be insulting (it is, but in a light-hearted way), they may take longer to feel comfortable.
Explain this to them if you can, before you arrive, as it can be a shock for the unwary youngster!