Alyssas-StoryWhat is Cleftstars?

Cleftstars is for young people affected by cleft lip and palate. Cleftstars provides young people and their parents with the opportunity to share their story, meet other kids who are cleft affected and better understand their own journey.

Who can be a member?

Cleftstars are aged 13 to 25, and their parents. Currently more than 30 young people are members of Cleftstars. 

How does it work?

Cleftstars meet in person a few times per year. There is a private Facebook site too. As Cleftstars is a group for young people, we don’t list meeting locations on our website. Contact us to find out the next meeting date.

How do I find out more?

Contact the Cleftstars coordinator Mark Banks, care of

Why Cleftstars?

As far as we know, Cleftstars is unique worldwide. For cleft affected kids, the teenage years can be a struggle. It’s hard enough to be a teenager and deal with self-esteem and self identity issues without having a cleft lip and / or palate as part of the mix. Cleftstars lets young people interact, share their journey and helps build their self esteem. For some kids it’s the first time they’ve met other cleft affected kids and cleft affected adults.

Cleftstars meetings include social / sporting get togethers (trampoline heaven at Bounce has been very popular!), information sessions with medical professionals and special events.

The group also provides younger Cleftstars with the support from older individuals in the group who have been through the journey. The older Cleftstars include a young man completing his final year of Medicine, a young woman who is a ballet dancer and completing her final year of midwifery, a lifesaver who is completing a sports management course and a school leaver who was dux of her school in year 12.  Older Cleftstars are great role models for younger Cleftstars and themselves grow and learn from the mentoring process.

We thank prominent Australians who have helped us support Cleftstars, including footballer Mick Martyn, musician Diesel and comedians Tania Lacey and Wendy Harmer. Cleftstars have also done work with Operation Smile, helping cleft affected children in the developing world.


Feedback on Cleftstars events:

Meeting (footballer) Mick Martyn to me was the the coolest thing. The thing that shined out for me was that he knew what it was like to get bullied by other kids. The other thing that was good about him was that, someone that had a joined up lip could have such a career with sport and get so far with football. It was good seeing a grown up succeed with sport so that everyone that has a joined up lip can follow their dreams and can do what ever they want with their life without noticing a joined up lip.

From Sam, Cleftstar, aged 12

I am emailing you to tell you how much I enjoyed David Chong coming to the CleftStars on Saturday! I think that it was a very good presentation about the missions that he goes on. Watching the video was a confronting but it was a good thing to see as it showed us the life of people in places like Cambodia, Indonesia, South Africa and other poor countries. It also made me think about how lucky I am to live in such a great place like Australia. I would never want to be living in a country where parents with children that have clefts come from such distances and miles to see if they could have an operation to get their clefts fixed. I was amazed that a group of women with babies that had clefts,  walked so far to find out if their children’s clefts were bad enough to have the operation. I would hope that those children got their operation.
David was an inspiration to all people, he had such a mind that would never give up. he had courage and that was what brought him to be a plastic surgeon (I think he was a plastic surgeon).
I would write more but I have to go now!
Melanie, Cleftstar

Just wanted to say thanks for yesterday and that Sam really enjoyed the group and discussions, particularly without the parents, as from his perspective, other kids talked more when the parents were not there! David Chong was absolutely inspiring and very generous with his presentation to us all, and Sam had lots to talk about with Peter and Nik when he got home. I think the group has had a really positive impact for Sam, particularly in relation to his self perception and self esteem, and he has really benefitted from seeing and talking with other kids “like him” so thanks to Jarrod and you for getting the group up and running.
Sam told me the other day that he was now looking forward to going to year 7 next year (when he previously had not been so positive) – and that he was really pleased that his teeth were now “getting straight”, that he felt much better about how he looked.
Sam’s Mum