Maggie came to our Women’s Homelessness Prevention project in 2016, seeking help after several episodes of homelessness.
Today, she is safely housed and studying. Her daughter is in year 12, after Maggie kept her in school the entire time. This is her story, in her own words.
In 2010 in Queensland I left a violent relationship of 23 years.
From my Centrelink I just had enough money for a one way ticket for my daughter Emily and I to fly to Melbourne. I had just enough money – $68 – for a taxi from the airport to the hostel.
“So I landed here with nothing. It was hard just trying to cope in a new environment with my daughter who was 11 at the time.”
We were in the hostel for about two months, until we moved into transitional housing in 2012. Since then, my daughter and I have been homeless another three times, because of domestic violence.
Throughout all these stages of homelessness, if I’d known about Justice Connect and the supportive service it provides, I honestly feel, my bouts of homelessness would have been significantly reduced.
When you’re not in the right frame of mind, you let the system beat you; you become resigned to the idea, ‘this is what happens, you get a notice to vacate and you have to go’, not even knowing there’s a service or a support out there.
The way I’ve thought of my whole situation is like Justice Connect coming in with big open wings. You feel like you’re down and then someone comes in scoops you up to protect you.
The wonderful lawyers made me feel safe at VCAT. I felt less vulnerable in this crisis.
Having wonderful support workers like Rachelle is a vital lifeline to people in my circumstances. She orchestrated all the things that can slip your mind when you’re buried down in life itself. She provided the aftercare for Emily and me.
The goal for all of us – for most women – is just to have a normal home, but getting there is a struggle if you’ve been evicted. That’s why support workers are so crucial.
“From my experience with Justice Connect I feel much lighter.”
My new house is like a mansion, it’s a townhouse, it’s glorious, it’s beautiful. I feel proud in a way that I can provide a place for Emily and she doesn’t feel embarrassed now. She can bring friends round.
And I can ask friends up to have a cuppa with me.
The only thing that kept me sane and focussed was Emily’s education. Throughout all the disruption Emily has a scholarship too.
As her mother, I feel it was important to keep that side of her life normal, so she could be a normal school girl for 7 or 8 hours of the day when she was there. Even though her personal life with me was disjointed.
In 2015 I was able to start university. This year I finish my degree in crime, justice and legal studies and Emily will finish year 12.
One of the things I say to Emily is, throughout your life people can put you down, but your education is the one thing people can’t take away. It’s your sense of self-worth and power.