Jamila was orphaned at age 10. A family member sponsored her to come to Australia three years ago and she moved into their home. Jamila, a devout Muslim, engaged well with her new family’s church and began learning English, enrolling at a local school. Her thirst for knowledge was not supported by her new family, causing problems during her VCE study. This lead to a family breakdown which resulted in Jamila becoming homeless.
Jamila stayed with her small circle of friends, which caused a strain on various relationships as they were all members of the same Church community as her sponsor family. Jamila came to Reconnect West after becoming aware of our services via her school. As Jamila was not a permanent Australian resident, she was ineligible for financial support and was therefore unable to access many welfare and housing services.
However, during all this turmoil, Jamila was still regularly attending school.
With the assistance of Reconnect West, Jamila was linked into the UCWS&H Emergency Relief/Care & Concern program which supported her with blankets, clothing and food. She also engaged the services of the Youth Housing Team who provided advocacy and referral to other housing services. A referral was made to the Bridges ACP Program for a culturally sensitive fostercare placement. While awaiting a suitable placement, Reconnect West supported Jamila using brokerage funds obtained from Wyndham City Council, maintaining a temporary placement that she had obtained herself after her stay in a youth refuge.
Reconnect West continued to strongly advocate with other housing support services, Centrelink,
CALD support services and her school for better outcomes.
A fostercare placement was located that responded to her cultural needs that Jamila was extremely pleased with. Several weeks later Jamila reluctantly ended it due to a personal struggle with her religious beliefs.
Reconnect West and Yarra Community Housing networked for several months, strengthening relationships with various agencies resulting in securing long-term youth housing for her.
Jamila is now housed, receiving financial support, completing her studies and is a permanent resident of Australia. The partnerships developed and strengthened from Jamila’s story along with our Community Capacity Building projects, compliment our client driven service delivery to provide the best possible outcomes in addressing youth homelessness.
I hadn’t rented before and was struggling to find a private rental property with two small children. Because I didn’t have a rental history, no real estate agent would give me a go, which meant we were almost homeless. When the kids asked where we were going to move to, I didn’t know what to tell them. I was depressed and anxious, worried about how I was going to care for my kids and feeling like the world was crumbling around me.
Early intervention through the outreach program put me in touch with a real estate agent that could help. They worked with me and my case worker to find a house that I could afford that was close to school and the shop. It only took a few weeks to sort out.
Our programs in action
A case worker on these programs doesn’t have a typical day. Each client is an individual, often with complex issues to contend with. This is the real story of a client, told by her case worker.
Mary approached our agency after moving to Wyndham from the country with her children. They left their home due to family violence and are staying with friends.
During our initial conversation, Mary told me she needed help with “everything”. She left with only the clothes she and the children were wearing and the few things they were able to fit in the car. She says she doesn’t have the “energy or headspace to get things organised” and has no idea about who to go to for help. While she’s been able to secure a private rental property, she has limited funds because, in her hurry to get away from her partner, she hasn’t applied for a separated parenting payment.
Through the Early Intervention Service, we were able to help organise food vouchers and clothes for Mary and her children, which addressed their most pressing basic needs. We then arranged for the Centrelink community team to help Mary apply for the right income payment to give her some financial security.
We then assisted Mary in applying for a bond loan from the Office of Housing, followed by brokerage to secure half her rent in advance. Through South West Community Services and St Vincent De Paul, we are able to source basic household furniture such as beds and mattresses, sofas and a kitchen table, giving the family some home comforts. Because Mary doesn’t have money for whitegoods, we also applied to the Ross Trust to fund a second-hand fridge.
Mary was then referred to the welfare coordinator of the local primary school to assist with enrolling her children and supplying them with uniforms and books. In addition, we helped her access counselling for the whole family through a local bulk-billing GP who facilitated a “Mental Wellbeing Plan”.
We were then able to link Mary with Victims of Crime and arrange a legal appointment for her. She is distressed and fearful, as her ex-partner has threatened to find her and take the children.
Once Mary was more settled, we put her in touch with a local job network agency who specialises in assisting mothers in finding part time work. Mary is hoping to work at the local supermarket, a position she has experience in.
– Early Intervention Worker