01 Sep 2021
Earlier this year, Bec joined our Lived Experience Engagement Service’s Housing and Homelessness Reference Group. She contributes her voice and shares her experiences of housing and homelessness as a young person, providing insight and laying bare the complex reality that is youth homelessness.
Jacqui will say until she’s blue in the face that I did it by myself, but her guidance and support are what got me to where I am now. I couldn’t believe it when they closed my file. It shows it’s possible for anyone, no matter where they are to get where I am now
As a child, Bec watched as a family breakdown and mental ill-health compounded in their effects on her Mum’s wellbeing. Her Mum was hospitalised as a result before being placed in emergency accommodation. Bec recalls her Mum’s fear of being separated from her children. While they were unable to stay with her, Bec came to shoulder a feeling of responsibility towards her younger siblings, often seeing herself as a parent to her two brothers.
As a teenager, home wasn’t a constant for Bec. She was kicked out multiple times. She struggled with friendships and getting a job without the safety and stability of a home. With nowhere to stay, she was left to couch surf between friends a lot of the time. Bec’s experiences show that homelessness doesn’t have a clear beginning or end, nor does it exist in a vacuum.
“Being a teenager and going through this was incredibly difficult,” she says.
At 15, Bec saw her Mum transition to community housing, but difficulties in their relationship left Bec with no option but to stay living with her Dad. Bec says that though she and her Dad now get on well, they have had a relationship of ups and downs, and it was often difficult for Bec to stay living with him throughout this time.
Throughout her teenage years and now as a young adult, Bec has worked to manage her mental health and the trauma she experienced throughout her life. At 13 years old, Bec was diagnosed with Autism and depression. Bec feels that this diagnosis was incredibly important and says that what can often seem minor to others on the outside, isn’t to her and the way she experiences the world.
Despite dealing with difficult circumstances, Bec has always strived to be independent. At 20 she got her first job. Now earning money, she exceeded the income payment threshold and no longer receives a Centrelink payment. However, just after her 21st birthday, Bec was again kicked out of home. At this time, Bec lost her job, was without income support and was struggling financially.
It was not long after this, that Bec began seeing Jacqui, a caseworker at SYC’s Trace-A-Place. With support from Jacqui, Bec was able to move into temporary accommodation and then secure more stable housing.
“It was one of the best days of my life, getting that call, so much was going on in my life. All my stuff was in my Mum’s garage, I was living out of bags and my partner couldn’t stay with me,” she says.
Bec finally had her own space. She began applying for private rentals and working part-time. More determined than ever, Bec successfully secured a full-time job with her current employer, impressing them with her work ethic and desire to learn.
In 2020, Bec moved into her first private rental, a home of her own. She recalls her disbelief when her case file was closed:
“Jacqui will say until she’s blue in the face that I did it by myself, but her guidance and support are what got me to where I am now. I couldn’t believe it when they closed my file. It shows it’s possible for anyone, no matter where they are to get where I am now,” she says.
Bec now lives with her partner and her cat Pumpkin. She has reconnected with her Dad and they now have a positive relationship. She has a great relationship with her manager, good friendships and a strong support network.
“I didn’t think I could get through to where I am now. To now be building my career and moving up the ladder at my work, to moving in with my partner and now even to be looking for a bigger place for us to share,” she says.
Bec says she’s only now beginning to unpack a lot of what has happened in her life, but she wants to be open about her experiences in the hope that she can make a difference for other young people.
“I’m noticing a lot more, seeing kids on the street. People can judge, but there’s no way of knowing what’s going on at home. I’ve helped a couple of teenage kids get into homelessness services because I feel like I’m looking at myself when I look at them. There’s so much wrong with that picture. It shouldn’t be happening. I would do almost anything to make sure they can live the life they want,” she says.
Bec’s resilience is only rivalled by her desire to share her story and give young people a voice. As part of our Reference Group, Bec meets with our Lived Experience Engagement team to talk about her experiences of housing and homelessness services. She is passionate about representing the complexity of homelessness to policymakers and talking about what it’s really like to be a young person without a home.
“To be able to give people a voice is something I treasure. A lot of the time, I felt like I didn’t have a voice. I felt stuck for so long. I knew that if I kept working hard through my job, through the housing market, I just might get there,” she says.