13 September 2022

When young people are supported by people who believe in them and their ability to succeed, they are empowered to achieve big things.

Ashley standing with two ADF officers and three other women in front of a ADF ship.

Ashley's story is told by her support person, Angela.

Transitioning from residential care into adulthood can be very daunting for young people. To bridge the gap between care and adulthood, Life Without Barriers’ Supported Independent Living Service (SILS) supports young people to build their independence and prepare for this transition.

Ashley* is a young person who has recently made a successful transition to independent living. With the support of her Care Team, Ashley is focused on preparing for her future.

In the short term, Ashley is working towards finishing school whilst working two part-time jobs. She is only months away from graduating year 12 and can’t wait for her school formal in November.

“Ashley is an absolute superstar. She is working towards huge goals for her future and is so motivated, keeping up with school and holding down two jobs!” said Angela Nelson, Program Manager – Residential and SILS, Child Youth and Family.

On top of school and work, Ashley has also made progress toward achieving her long-term goal of joining the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

“Ashley is very kind by nature and has always been interested in helping others. The ADF looked like a great opportunity for her to work in a role that supports other people,” said Angela.

“Ashley is also a very organised person, and she liked the sound of the structure that goes along with being in the ADF.”

An added benefit that attracted Ashley to the ADF was the opportunity to travel.

“Young people in care don’t often get the opportunity to travel. For Ashley, working in the ADF is a way for her to experience travel and see more of the world,” said Angela.

The application process for the ADF can be very long, involving assessments and appointments. Ashley’s Care Team helped her to navigate this process, working with her to complete her application and driving her to the assessments and appointments.

With some support, Ashley has built her confidence and has prepared for different situations she might encounter. One way she did this was through role-playing conversations and different scenarios with her Care Team.

“Ashley found the experience of role-playing the different scenarios she might come across with staff to be a good way to practice and prepare for the real event,” said Angela.

In August, Ashley received news that she was selected to attend the Royal Australian Navy Emerging Technicians program in Sydney.

Ashley’s Care Team had to work super-fast and use their positive relationships to get the approvals from Child Safety, Ashley’s school and from her legal guardian, her mother. Thankfully, they managed to get the signed approvals within the required timeframe and Ashley set off to Sydney.

She was flown, all expenses paid, for two nights and completed the training program at the Naval base HMAS Kuttabul. Ashley was very excited to get on a plane by herself.

“Getting the opportunity to travel was a huge experience for Ashley, she has never been to Sydney to stay overnight before,” shared Angela.

The best part of this experience for Ashely, however, was that it reinforced for her that she is on the right career path, and this is exactly what she wants to do.

“Being selected to participate in the Navy program has helped Ashley to build so much confidence in herself to meet her career goals," said Angela.

Since her training program experience, Ashley has accomplished some other huge milestones including passing her drivers licence test and buying herself a car, signing a lease and moving into a local Youth Foyer, and celebrating her 18th birthday.

Loriza Daud, Senior Practice and Program Specialist, said the whole SILS team are incredibly proud of Ashley.

“Ashley worked so hard while she has been in our care and we will all miss her very much,” said Loriza. “Seeing her face light up when I listen to her talk about her future is something that will stay with me forever. Ashley is a perfect example of how young people can achieve success after care and that there is always hope.”

A person's story is precious. We take storytelling seriously. Sometimes people are able to tell their own story and we love that. We always make sure they give us their ok and we will always honour the trust placed in us to bring their story forward.

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

Child, Youth and Family

Our Foster Care, residential care and after care services provide a safe and supportive environment where they can heal and grow.

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