22 January 2024

Rising above the traumas she has faced, Mary partnered with her Next Steps Case Manager to build a better future for herself and her child.

Image: A woman is walking along the street. She is wearing a green coat with a fur trim and has dark hair slicked back.

Mary* spent her childhood in and out of welfare systems and was unhoused for periods. One of the few people in the world she trusted was her Next Steps Program Case Manager, John.

John and Mary built a rapport over the years they worked together. John and the Next Steps team helped Mary set herself up as a young adult, including helping her and her daughter, Lydia*, find new accommodation.

Just as many things were falling into place for her, Mary’s safety became threatened by a violent ex-partner. She was reluctant to seek help from government and welfare bodies, because of her previous negative experiences. The only person she felt safe to turn to was John.

The pair discussed Mary’s options, and John explained the long-term effects domestic violence can have on children. Mary learned more about the good the system can do and about keeping herself safe. Mary was afraid she could lose custody of Lydia, but John promised that he would work with her every step of the way.

For Lydia, Mary took a brave leap of faith and agreed to engage with domestic violence support services. With John’s support, Mary worked with DV Connect, who were able to move her into a safer living space. Mary and John also worked in partnership with the Domestic Violence Action Centre (DVAC), and the Department of Child Safety to relocate to a new area and be supported to make a fresh start.

As well as her immediate safety needs, Mary and John worked together on longer-term plans so Mary could establish a secure and positive life for her and Lydia.

Mary was determined to protect her child from the insecurities she had faced in childhood.

Mary put Lydia in daycare and enrolled in a part-time TAFE program. She talked to John about finding meaningful work and how she’d like to help others in the community service sector.

Mary has since started work as a disability support worker for a local NDIS provider, obtained her driver's licence and, with John’s help, found permanent housing. She continues to attend support groups for victims of domestic violence and keeps Lydia protected.

Next Step Plus is a support system for Queensland youth aged 15-25 to develop their skills and knowledge to live independently and to provide them with additional support and services that they need.

The program helps young people who have been in out-of-home care with practical advice and support for things like managing money and entitlements, housing and accommodation, training and preparing for work, keeping safe, having strong and healthy relationships and legal advice.

*Names have been changed to protect the people in this story.

After care

Giving young people who are leaving care the support they need to build independent lives.

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