“Courageous. Independent. Self-sufficient. Strong.”
These are some of the words used to describe the woman watching her young son play. The focus of the words is Rebecca, a Young Adults HomeConnect client who is just about to close off her support period with the Northern Community Hub service.
Rebecca might not have used these words to describe herself when she first started working with HomeConnect in January. She was hesitant to start working with the service because she wanted to be independent. “It was a learning curve,” she says. Still involved in an unhealthy relationship at the time, Rebecca says she would probably still be there if it wasn’t for program; the support from her case worker, Justine, was crucial for helping her gain the confidence to make a change.
“Justine was easy to open up to,” Rebecca says, “the stress was on her. Anything that was needed to be done was done quickly.” Justine organised swimming lessons for Rebecca’s son and her car registration along with the expenses of the house move. The lessons benefited both them as Rebecca got to see her son having fun while reconnecting to her community.
Liz, HomeConnect's financial counsellor who also worked with Rebecca, says that ‘in the middle of everything going on, Rebecca wanted to understand her situation; she was committed morally to her debts, to fixing the situation and making it better in a range of ways. It was a case of ‘stand by me and walk me through this’. It takes a lot of energy from people who have been through a crisis situation and she had real maturity for such a young person.”
Rebecca grew to become a strong advocate for herself. When basic issues at her old house, such as heating during winter, were left unrepaired after numerous requests, Justine supported Rebecca to take the matter to VCAT. Her new house hasn’t been perfect but thanks to the skills she gained, new awareness of her tenant’s rights, and “fantastic new agents”, her requests have been actioned and the home made more comfortable.
“Now, I’m stress free and have less debts. I really want to do a community services course next year; Amy’s helping me with that,” says Rebecca, having been able to access the range of HomeConnect services including Amy’s education and employment support. Rebecca’s off to a job interview next and, with her son, a successful life that she has made her own.