Real people, real stories

The following excerpts are shared with us in hope to demonstrate and encourage those who work in the sector, and those who reach out and seek recovery. This connects the investment the Government, organisations and workers make with the reality of a person’s life, and a family’s recovery.

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C was a young woman with a 2 ½ month old baby boy...

...when she fled from her violent and abusive partner to the homes of friends before accessing support through a crisis refuge in a Melbourne suburb. Unfortunately, this was to be short lived when the ex-partner tracked them down. Melbourne didn’t feel safe anymore and C made the decision to relocate to Geelong to remove herself and her child from the risk of further violence. Due to the family violence and the resulting homelessness she left the people she knew, deferred from her studies and moved to a town where she knew no-one.

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In Geelong, C linked in with a local domestic violence service and stayed three months in refuge accommodation before being referred to SalvoConnect Women’s Services (SCWS). This enabled her to access to transitional accommodation where she and her son lived for the next 8 months. For the first time since leaving her ex-partner, C felt some degree of safety 

During this time SCWS was able to case coordinate support for C and assist her to look towards the future for herself and her child. Once stable and safe, she was then referred to other specialist services that could help her meet her needs and achieve the goals she had identified in her personal plan including child focussed therapeutic activities with her son. Through support, C was able to overcome barriers and achieve her goals, including the recommencement of her studies at university. 

“I would not have had the confidence to achieve my goals if I didn't have the support from my workers at SalvoConnect Women's and I am continually grateful for their encouragement and support “. 

When the offer of a property through the Office of Housing came, her new home was walking distance from her son's crèche and close to public transport, enabling her to continue with her university studies and finish her degree. Recently, C initiated proceedings to gain custody of her son stating “even though my ex hasn't had any contact with me or my son in over 20 months, for the first time I feel completely secure that he can’t find me and take my son”. 

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After 23 years of drug and alcohol use...

After 23 years of drug and alcohol use – marijuana, alcohol, LSD, ketamine, speed, ecstasy, cocaine, mushrooms, ice, heroin, and overdoses, hospitalisation, loss of a best friend through suicide, and a broken marriage – with 3 children, Mr Q came into the Geelong Withdrawal Unit in 2012.

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Staying for stage 1 “those first 10 days were a bit of a haze”, and on to Stage 2 and 3, connecting with NA, and completing 113 days admission in total, with a mother and wife attending the Family Support Group…”all of my relationships with both family and friends have seemed to benefit from my stay at GWU….I am able to be much more open…There are no more secrets…I am growing stronger and more self aware..”

Caring staff, the Chaplain, Kardinia (now SalvoConnect) Mental Health Service, SCAODS (now SCAODS) group recovery programs, and a Higher Power have all assisted. “Prior to entering recovery, I relied on the false promise of drugs to get me through….by staying aware in my recovery, I have been able to rediscover parts of me…..and am able to sit with myself and just be in the moment…….(at 35) My family has been pieced back together..I am eternally grateful…” (2013).

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SalvoConnect Community Support Service

Jim is 34, he immigrated to Australia about 10 years ago he met his wife 5 years ago they married and had two children. During 2012 he separated from his wife. As the separation became acrimonious and his ex-wife started to restrict his access to his children he sought assistance from SCCSS. When he accessed ER he was very distressed about not being able to access regular visits with his children, amount of debt related to his marriage and lack of employment.

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The ER support worker referred him to our Crisis Counsellor who was able to get him some legal advice and connect him with the right process to start the formal application to get access with his children. He was also referred to our Financial Counsellor was able to advise him on his options in relation to his credit-related and marriage-related debt (all credit cards and utilities where in his name). The Crisis Counsellor continues to support him and has assisted with him replacing tools and work clothes that his ex-wife sold. Jim has been able to gain some casual work as a handyman and hopes to get back into his previous employment of kitchen/wardrobe installation.

Bill presented at SCCSS...

Bill presented at SCCSS when he had a mix-up in his Centrelink payment and needed assistance to get through the weekend. He was experiencing a long period of homelessness and had been the victim of street violence. As a result of growing up in a household with alcoholism and domestic violence he had taken out an intervention order against his parents.

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His marriage had also failed and he had a son. Bill felt enormous guilt at not being able to provide for his son and because of his homelessness was not able to have regular visits. Bill also discussed his substance abuse and struggle to give up smoking. He was experiencing depression and anxiety. Bill was encouraged to see his GP and be assessed for assistance to get counselling for his depression. He was assessed and went to see psychologist. As a result he started to address his mental health issues and substance abuse.

Bill claimed that for the first time he felt ‘normal’. With the help of SalvoConnect (Adult Entry Point for Homelessness) he was able to get help to find and secure affordable accommodation. He has been able to spend more time with his son and undertake his share of his parental responsibilities. During the school holidays he was able to have his son for 4 days which is a testament to the work he has done. In saying that does not mean everything is going well to him. He has faced some challenges during this time. His best friend’s daughter took her life.

He had to discuss his financial situation with his worker when he settled into his accommodation. He had to set up Centrepay for his rent and utilities as a way of reducing the temptation to drink. Recent medial tests found him to be intolerant to gluten/wheat products which meant he had to be careful what he ate and that some of the alternatives are expensive. He is also undertaking a TAFE course to improve his chances of getting back into the workforce.

Val is a 19 year old...

Val is a 19 year old who accessed services at the SalvoConnect Community Support Service. Val lives with her father, but has taken on the role of caring for him and her two sisters, both of who are under 14 years of age. Her mother left the family home 2 years ago and has not maintained contact with Val or her sisters. Val's youngest sister is deaf. Val's father is an alcoholic and is verbally abusive to Val and her sisters, which she finds very difficult. However, Val does not want to involve the police.

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Val manages the household, pays the rent and cooks, shops and maintains the domestic arrangements. Both Val's sisters go to school and both needed assistance is getting some basic uniform items which was supplied. Tori attends TAFE part-time and works at a cafe during the day. Val appeared very stressed, overwhelmed and uncertain about what she should do. She is finding her father more difficult all the time. While Val has considered leaving she feels a certain responsibility to her sisters and is planning to 'get out with her sisters when they are a little older' as she does not want to risk breaking up her family any further.

She insisted that she did not wish to involve the police, in case her father reacts more negatively towards her. The worker has suggested the she contact the youth services in the area to see if they can offer ongoing support. As we have a counsellor on site an appointment was made for Val to meet with her and assist her in linking in with the local youth services and offer her and her family ongoing support.

Sue is 45 years old...

Sue is 45 years old and in receipt of Disability Support Pension. She is experiencing a number of mental health issues including social phobia’s which makes it difficult for her to leave her house. Sue is the mother of 2 young boys and separated from her husband several years ago. A member of her family suggested she seek assistance from a Financial Counsellor after her ex-husband had died.

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As Sue was listed as his executer the responsibility for his estate fell to her after his death. Sue attended the first session with three boxes of paper dating back several years related to financial matters. Much of the content was old out-dated copies of bills that she felt that she was unable to work through herself as the process of working through them was overwhelming. There were several matters that needed to be addressed around taxation, insurance, superannuation and a number of other outstanding debts.

It was determined that Sue's former partner had no outstanding debts, except for a number of fines which became void upon his death. The outstanding tax issues were addressed from the estate. Sue's ex-partner had several superannuation policies with a number of organisations with his boys listed as majority recipients and Sue receiving a minor share. Applications where made to the super funds for release of the funds after seeking appropriate paper work by the financial counselling service. Given the amount of money in the estate and age of the boys it was suggested that further financial advice be sought from a financial adviser.

With the work of the Money Management Educator...

With the work of the Money Management Educator we have been able to make connections within the local Indigenous Community. We have had three workers contact us in relation to getting Christmas Cheer assistance for about 40 of their clients. One family they asked for some assistance for was 29 year old Emily.

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When she turned 18 she gained custody of her young niece, she has since gone on to marry and have 3 children of her own as well as taking on custody of another 2 young extended family members. The workers know that Emily "is doing it tough" and working hard to hold her family together. Emily is also a great inspiration and positive role-model within the local indigenous community.