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Helena - I’ve made a fresh start to build a great life for my little family in a safe and happy home of our own

All that I’ve learned in recovery with Flourish Australia’s Women & Children’s Program has given me fresh hope for the future of my family, and a home of my own to start over in. 

When I gave birth within a domestic violence situation, the Department of Communities and Justice became involved and I was given the option of participating in a recovery program in order to keep my child. I chose Flourish Australia’s Women & Children’s Program because it was conveniently located near my Mum who I’m close to, and they welcome the involvement of trusted family.

I moved into their secure accommodation when my son was just 3 weeks old and stayed until he was 5 months old. We arrived with only the clothes we were wearing and being welcomed into a beautiful little villa, fully furnished for us with everything we needed, quickly made us feel safe and at home. The whole program prepared me well for living independently and parenting my son with confidence. There’s no judgement and the team are on hand 24/7 to help in very practical ways, like keeping an eye on my son while I showered and giving me a hand with grocery shopping. I knew how to run my home and my participation was an opportunity for the Department of Communities and Justice to see that. 

Being continually told how well I was doing helped me to believe it for myself.

What I appreciate about the program is that it’s not overwhelming when you already feel vulnerable, as a big complex would be. There’s no judgement and it feels more like a supportive village where the team have time to really invest in each of us individually and come alongside us in whatever way will take the pressure off while we find our feet. I never felt pressured to do anything. I was always presented with choice and encouraged to make my own informed life decisions.  

I gained so much from the free courses in life skills, especially the Circle of Security which taught me new ways of being a present and nurturing mum. A Women’s Choice and Change workshop opened my eyes to the impact Domestic Violence has on kids and ways to make healthier choices in relationships with a partner, friends or family. I live with Bi-Polar Disorder and picked-up better ways of managing my mental health, and I learned to mend clothes with the Wrapped in Angels group, where we sewed elements that told our family’s story, into a blanket. 

With my own wellbeing on track, I was supported every step of the way to gaining full parental rights for my son. It was reassuring to be accompanied at my meetings with the Department of Communities and Justice. 

I’m aboriginal and the team introduced me to a playgroup which has re-connected my son and I with our culture and community. I’ve also made lasting friendships with other mums from the program and feel it will be important to have these supportive networks around us as we make our way to a whole new life. 

Without a doubt, finding the family home we now have in our community would not have been as seamless without the help of Flourish Australia. Their Women & Children’s Program has completely transformed the way I do life and feel in myself. There are challenges still to come, but I have the self-confidence to come through it now. I’m no longer fearful of the future. I’m focused on swimming lessons for my son and studying toward a career in counselling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teens to give them the help I would have benefited from at their age, and instil the hope I’ve found into them, for their own future.

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