Stories

MILLA is a 45-year-old woman from Samoa, who speaks very little English. She presented with a history of being homeless for six weeks after an argument with her Australian-born husband led to him refusing to let her back into the house. Milla reports that he also detained her belongings.

Milla reported a lifelong history of type-1 diabetes (which she described as being unstable since her eviction) and a two-year history of anxiety and depression (which she attributed to living with her husband in a marriage where she was unhappy). Milla had very little employment background in Australia but reported skills as a seamstress gained from Samoa. Milla attended 139 Club to access the drop-in facilities while she was continuing to work with her support worker.

Milla began regular check-ups with the 139 Club registered nurse and visiting GP, where regular monitoring of her diabetes was commenced. She was referred to the outpatients clinic at the RBWH for specialist review. Milla attained temporary boarding-house accommodation and applications were made for housing with a number of housing companies. Milla was referred for counselling to assist her to manage her anxiety and depression. She reported an alleviation of her symptoms. Milla joined a local English conversation group to practice her English speaking skills and joined a local church to increase social interaction and connection to her Christian faith. Milla was able to secure part-time employment working for a company that makes ship sails, using her seamstress skills. Milla is now in a stable property and flourishing.

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RAY first presented to 139 Club in 2015, with a history of being a removalist in Western Australia, having an addiction to amphetamines and alcohol and sleeping rough for a month.

During 2015, Ray worked with a support worker to secure housing through a community housing provider. He also managed to abstain from amphetamines and had some period of abstinence from alcohol. He attended the 139 Club every day and used our full array of services.

Ray was challenging to engage. He had started a relationship of sorts with a lady many years his junior and felt that he was responsible for her, despite not really wanting to stay in a long-term, committed relationship.

Ray would not entertain the idea of housing until his friend had options. He financially supported her as she had no income source. This meant that he had very little money left over for basic supplies. The support worker worked with his friend and assisted her to return to family, leaving him in a position where he could attend to his own affairs.

Ray attained a community housing property a long way from the CBD late in December 2015. He was reluctant to engage in continued support after securing his tenancy, despite more than one support worker encouraging him to stay engaged for the benefit of his own wellbeing and tenancy sustainment.

Ray continues to reach out to support workers when he is in crisis and will represent to 139 Club for a few days at a time to become stabilised. He has had relapses into drug and alcohol addiction, been charged with offences by police and also met a family with a disabled child and told them to live in his unit while he slept on the street. Ray’s support worker has assisted him with decreasing his sense of isolation, maintaining sobriety and managing his finances.

Unfortunately Ray continues to reject long-term engagement unless he is in a crisis situation but has a clear pattern of returning when things become overwhelming for him.

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NEIL is a New Zealand citizen who has been in Australia for many years but is not yet entitled to permanent residency. As such, Neil has no Centrelink payment or other source of income.

Neil has been sleeping rough for many years and suffers from chronic alcoholism. He has no family in Australia and his only friends are other rough sleepers. Neil expressed early on a desire never to return to New Zealand.

Neil’s ongoing survival has been dependent on accessing the 139 Club to conduct his activities of daily living, meet his needs for medical care and support and and to seek emotional support from case workers, other staff and volunteers.

In early December 2015 a man not known to Neil approached him and asked him to purchase dinner for him. Neil advised he was unable to help as he had no money. Neil was then beaten and when he collapsed to the floor his head was jumped on. He was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull and bleeding to his brain. After emergency surgery, Neil was teetering on the brink of death for a number of days. He had a large portion of his skull missing and had a severe brain injury requiring intensive rehabilitation.

Neil’s friends approached 139 Club staff the day after it happened. A case worker made contact with the social worker at the hospital and attended the hospital for a meeting, as the hospital had no information or background on Neil. The case worker was able to make contact with a relative in New Zealand and deliver a range of essential items for Neil, such as pyjamas, clothes, shoes and toiletry items. After Neil completed rehabilitation he returned to life on the streets. He has a lot of pride, which means he will not return to New Zealand to be “a burden to his family”.

He continues to access the 139 Club on a daily basis and has a case worker who is supporting him through a range of issues, including intellectual deficits post brain injury, victims of crime processes, permanent residency processes, multiple medical issues and alcohol dependency issues.

139 Club pays for all Neil’s meals and washing, as we do for all people who are not entitled to Centrelink. This is an activity that is not funded through any grant or funding program.

When Neil is eligible for permanent residency, we hope to work with him to secure some supported accommodation .