Edwina’s Story

Having a workplace where I’m accepted wholeheartedly and having extra support around me from the people at Flourish Australia helps me to remain resilient.

Many of my choices were driven by fear and anxiety in the past and I masked my vulnerability with big hats and a flamboyant style. Flourish Australia helped me to reconnect with my creative side in an authentic way. Now I aspire to writing articles that people will respect and want to hold onto, because what I have to say has made a real difference in their lives. It was anxiety, brought on by the Bali bombings that led me to migrate to Australia, back in 2003. Where I’m from, on the East Cape of New Zealand, it’s very isolated and news of the bombings triggered my fears for the safety of my mum, who was living in Brisbane. So I set my studies in fashion design aside, despite there being just two years remaining, to attain my bachelor’s degree, to be closer to her. Sadly, after a falling-out with my mum and step-dad, I ended up on a plane to Sydney and found myself homeless on arrival. At first I sold The Big Issue to get by, living on the streets. I was looking at jobs on the internet when I came across Flourish Australia who were advertising packaging work in their warehouse. I’m so grateful I took the step to apply. It’s been a very good move for me and has changed my life in so many ways. Working in a factory environment was all new to me, but the people are very welcoming and encouraging which put me at ease. Flourish Australia have helped me to secure an NDIS package which gives me access to things like The Academy of Learning, as well as practical support like cleaning, A Life Plus meals and Night & Day products for people with disabilities. All of that has been a big help. I haven’t taken up where I left off with my studies but I have worked as a tailor with the prestige brand, Easton Pearson, where I contributed to a big Marina boating event, and I would like to do more with design one day. A visit to the Maritime Museum and seeing James Cameron’s art and his work as an innovator in screenwriting and film producing, got me thinking in that direction and re-connected me with my creative side. I’ve already put together some photos, to produce as a video, once I can secure some funding. For now, I have started writing articles for Flourish Australia’s Panorama Magazine. I’m so proud of that. I’ve always loved keeping a journal and it feels good to now be writing something that others can enjoy. I’m working toward being able to confidently edit a piece of writing that’s suitable for publication in a mainstream newspaper. I want to be able to create something that people in the wider community will respect and want to hold onto, once they read it. I like to believe that one day, people will say ‘here’s what Edwina has written’, because what I have to say, has made a difference. In particular I would like to give a voice to people from the outreach posts that depend so heavily on that support, day in and day out. Despite how far I’ve come, I still feel quite vulnerable and like I’m fighting with life, because of the discrimination I encounter in the community, around me being transgender. The Flourish Australia team at Marrickville often organise BBQ’s that I find uplifting to go along to. They’ve really taken the time to get to know me but they also know how to give me space to breathe when I need it. Finding more stability since being with Flourish Australia has also given me the freedom to travel and get back to my love of language studies. Back in high school, I excelled at Japanese, until the teacher left and was replaced with a French teacher; so we all had to switch to that. There’s a part of me that is still driven to know more about the Far East, so I’ve made plans to travel to Japan next year. One big change for me lately has been doing away with wearing flamboyant hats and statement glasses; a throwback to the days when I designed hats. People want authenticity. They want to see a face they can identify with and get to know the real me. For the first time in my life, thanks to Flourish Australia, I’m ok with that.

More Real Life Stories