Sharney: I’ve been back here living with the Salvos now for about a week and a half. I was here last year with my partner, who is now my ex-partner. We stayed here for about four months and we got a private rental around the corner. After we broke up, we tried to live together but we couldn’t do it. It got too hard. I decided to move out and spoke to the workers here and they said yes! I’m in one of the units out the back, the kitchen and lounge is separate and a bathroom as well. There are 11 rooms and two family rooms.
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I left foster care when I was 18, at the end of 2013. I lived with my aunty, which didn’t go too well because she’s a user. So when Mum got out of jail I lived with her for a bit; it got really bad there, with her using and stuff. She kicked us and the two dogs out. From there we went to a friend’s house and then an Aboriginal crisis centre. We went and visited a family friend and we packed our stuff and moved in there for about six months. Then we were referred to someone who was able to get me and Jesse in here, together. He also managed to put our dogs into assisted welfare.
We’d saved up for a bond and looked for houses. We couldn’t find any houses that would let us have the dogs, so we had to give them away permanently. They’d had puppies, too, and they all got adopted.
I went into care when I was 13. Most of my life I lived with Nan. Then she got sick and while she was in hospital she made a phone call to DHS, saying that she wanted my little sisters picked up to go into care. And I decided the next day to go with them. Our placement was meant to be for a weekend. It ended up being six or seven years. And we got the one placement. But not long after I left, my sisters moved to another placement as well. And they’ve recently just gone into permanent care. Our experience was pretty good compared to other kids. I got to do lots of different things.
I lived a few times with Mum, but most of the time with Nan. It just wasn’t suitable to be with Mum. She’s a drug user, I think she went into detox on Christmas Day and came out at the end of January. I’m not sure how she went. Last time I saw her, on the weekend, it seemed that she wasn’t on anything, which was good. She hasn’t got a phone at the moment so I see her when she comes down this way.
I would look for rentals and then the workers would help as well. Like if there was staff on overnight, they’d come and give us a list in the morning of possibilities. The one we actually got, we’d looked at on the real estate website and we were like, ‘We won’t get it.’ But we did. It just didn’t work out with me and my ex-partner. I think the house was too small for the both of us and we just got sick of each other. But we still talk and stuff now.
There’s one girl that I’ve known in here for like seven years. I met her when I was in care but we used to do Planetshakers [church] together when we were little. My worker takes me to hospital appointments and all my appointments really. We just chat about stuff too. We’re looking at a bed sit at the moment. It’s kind of like a rooming house. I went and saw it. It’s a little studio apartment in a house with 10 other rooms, but everyone I met there the other day was really nice. I’d be OK with that. I think it’s for 18 months; kind of like transitional housing before you find something permanent.
Mum just got out of detox. She was using ice and heroin. I’m not quite sure how she managed to do that. My sisters, I see them once or twice. They just finished building a house; well, their care parents did. So they want me to come up and see it. They helped build it so they’re pretty excited. My foster care workers were really my main support growing up, besides my foster family. I had a worker at the foster care office.
These guys do the best they can to support young people who are homeless, but they need donations to do that. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve always had somewhere to stay, even a friend’s house. A lot of young people don’t get that.
A lot of my days at the moment consist of hospital appointments. I have to see a specialist. All the appointments are under Medicare – the only thing I have to pay for is my medication, some anti-depressants and some multi vitamins; at the moment.
Now I’m going to go finish up with the gardening. I like it sometimes, when the weather is nice. We grow vegetables that we use for the meals program, we cook ourselves. We clean it, we weed it; keep it tidy. It is kind of relaxing doing the gardening, depending on who is around you!
excerpted, as told to Katherine Goswell