The sense of peace and comfort we experience at home is
something that will resonate with many of us. It is at home where we form our
earliest memories of being loved and cared for. It is the place that offers us
a sense of familiarity, comfort and belonging. But what about those people who through family violence,
relationship breakdown or mental illness find themselves without family,
comfort, and a place to call home?
have a happy and safe childhood. Her father had significant alcohol problems
and Kate’s earliest memories are peppered with his violence and the need to
stay quiet and as invisible as possible so as to not upset him. Turning to her
mother for comfort and support could also be fraught with danger as due to her
mother’s schizophrenia, Kate never knew how she would react or if she would
even be home. Kate spent a lot of her childhood being left with her grandmother
while both her parents were unable to care for her.
of abuse and uncertainty left Kate to grow up searching for love in all the
wrong places and she turned to drugs and alcohol to help her cope with the pain
of her past.
her husband when she was in her mid-twenties. She fell in love and married quickly,
and soon after became pregnant. She gave up the drinking and drugs to protect
her baby, but realised too late that her husband was not ready to raise a
following years saw the two of them separate and get back together many times
including a couple of years of stability where she became pregnant again. Last
year was their 10 year anniversary, but it was not a celebration - Kate and her
husband were in an abusive relationship. But despite this Kate was determined,
for their children, to make her marriage work.
before Christmas last year, Kate and her husband got into a heated argument and
Kate realised that things had to change. This life of abuse and uncertainty was
not one she wanted for her children. She packed a bag each for her and the kids
and left. She had no plan, little money and nowhere to go but just wanted them
all to be safe and free of abuse and violence.
grandmother had passed away several years earlier so Kate approached an old
family friend who allowed them to sleep on the couches in the lounge room. Overnight
Kate and her kids had joined the thousands of Australians who are couch surfing,
which has become recognised as a form of homelessness.
coming weeks, Kate took up drinking again; she lost her job and hit rock
bottom. In desperation Kate turned to CatholicCare’s Alcohol and Other Drug Service
for help. Together with her counsellor she started working on her recovery, with
the goal of building a stable and loving home for her children to grow up in.
recovery has been slow, but the support she has received from her counsellor
and the CatholicCare team have helped to get her life back on track. While
CatholicCare’s counselling focused on helping Kate deal with her drinking and
her feelings about the abuse in her past, her counsellor also helped her to
attend court proceedings, supported applications for housing and referrals for
detox programs and other support services.
Thanks to the
advocacy from her CatholicCare counsellor, Kate is no longer homeless. She moved
into government supported housing in October and is now working with case
managers at Child Protection Services to give her children access to their
father in a safe and controlled environment.
The road to
recovery has been long for Kate, but every step has brought her closer to her
dream of having a real home with her children. This year, Kate’s children will
spend Christmas with their mother in their new home.
many more families like Kate’s who need a helping hand this Christmas. The demand
for our programs and services grows each year and our resources are straining
to meet the needs. We are motivated by our belief that everyone deserves to live life
to the full, and to feel safe and secure in a home of their own.
is a time of giving and belonging. We celebrate the gift of Jesus, born as our
saviour. We celebrate the giving which marked the Holy Family, and all who
received the Good News of Jesus’ birth. In this spirit we reach out to those in
need, so they too will be able to experience joy, belonging and the fulfilment
that comes with giving.
To donate please use our donation form or call 03 9287 5517.
Your gift will help another family have a brighter celebration knowing they are surrounded by those that matter most to them.
*At CatholicCare, we respect everyone who comes to us for
help - and many are working towards a fresh start in life. So while these
stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect
their privacy. Thank you for understanding.