Bouncing between her parent’s homes and witnessing parental drug use and family violence was a way of life for Lee, who did not wish to be identified, until it came to a head early this year. At the age of 17, five days after a suicide attempt left her in hospital, she got kicked out of home and couch surfed between grandparents, aunties and friends. After being linked up with a youth homelessness worker through Ballarat Community Health’s Creating Connections, Sarah’s life took a turn for the better.
“I used to be a self harm and if I’m having a rough day I can just give her a call and have a five minute chat over the phone or if I just need my mind taken off whatever is going on, I’ll give someone a call.” she said.
“I was linked in with Anna and eventually got a unit that I am very proud to call mine. I’ve got all my decorations up so it feels like home. It’s the best feeling in the world knowing that no matter what I go through during the day, I’ve got a safe place to go home to where i can be who I want to be. They’ve given me opportunities to do more education and I am going to uni next year to become a nurse.”
Creating Connections Youth Homelessness worker Anna Flood said she thinks the reason some of those needing housing support through BCH’s youth housing program, 37 per cent who are aged between 16-17, is because they’re fleeing family violence, drug use and substance abuse at home.
“They’re all couch surfing, sleeping with friends. We’re getting them through and trying to get them out of the homeless sector. Supporting them through education and employment pathways and giving them the skills to live independently. We do group work and support them long term and short term,” she said.
“I think people just think you give them a bed and it’s all good. We try to work holistically and get them to not re enter again.” For Ms Flood, long term solutions to homelessness include setting case plans and goals as well as addressing mental health issues, substance abuse, social connections and isolation. “A lot of it is just giving them the right direction and caring about their future,” she said.