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Full Name at Birth
Pragmatic, feisty, lively and fun, Julie is a terrific mum, a loving daughter, a wonderful wife, and a great worker. She rightly has faith in her organisational skills – which have made her such a valued asset at Barrett’s Electrical Services – but any interest she might have had outside work, home and family have had to take a back seat. She’s always been far too busy taking care of everyone else to worry about herself.
“Julie is the sort of person I would love as my best friend,” Rebecca says of her character. “I’ve actually based her on my three sisters. I’ve combined the three of them and come up with Julie Rafter. They all have grown up children and know exactly what she’s going through.
“Her family means absolutely everything to her and she’ll do anything for them. But having said that, she’s also very strong and tells it like it is. I really love that about her. I love her honesty and compassion and her down to earth attitude.”
Julie’s three kids – Rachel, Ben and Nathan – have always occupied centre stage in her life, even as they have moved out of home to make their own way. So when it’s the turn of Ben, her middle child, to announce that he’s finally taken Dad’s less-than-subtle hints to leave home, she is naturally sad to see the end of an era.
Another part of her, however, is secretly turning cartwheels. Perhaps the third phase of her life, the me-phase, is about to begin and Julie can’t wait! It’s unfortunate timing that the life revolution offered by Ben’s departure coincides with dramatic crises in the lives of her two other kids and her father Ted.
When they all move in, Julie finds herself re-cast in the role of cook, cleaner, washer-woman, general dogs-body and all-purpose sounding board. This combined with the financial burden imposed by Dave’s sudden joblessness, sparks in Julie a scary sense of the grinding treadmill of life – and generates a crisis of her own.
Julie becomes painfully aware that she’s hurtling towards the end-phase of her life and it’s a difficult adjustment, fraught with fear, resentment and no small measure of anger.
At the start of the series we meet Julie on the eve of her 25th wedding anniversary to Dave – the love of her life. They laugh together, a lot, rarely set sun on an argument and still enjoy a terrific sex-life.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. A few months into their relationship, Julie discovered she was pregnant with Rachel. Dave immediately proposed marriage, but Julie chose to make him wait. She wanted to know that Dave was marrying her for herself, not out of duty.
Dave gave up his musical ambitions to be with her and raise a family. And now 25 years, they face a new set of challenges.
“One of the major issues she faces is the family moving back home with her and Dave,” Rebecca says. “They have to adapt to life under the same roof with their grown up children. And, like most Australian families, particularly at the moment, the Rafters have financial worries. She ends up being the sole breadwinner of the family. So she has to pay all the bills and still be the woman who puts food on the table at the end of the day. She’s trying to do everything and it does get to her...eventually.”
But throughout the ups and downs, Julie maintains her wicked sense of humour, and an unflinching love for her family.