26 October 2022

Emma, a young person in care, builds her life skills and gets prepared for the future with the support of her case manager Matthew.

An Aboriginal teenage girl with curly brown hair in a pony tail is wearing headphones and a white shirt.

Everyone has their own unique story to tell, today, meet Emma*.

Emma, a young person in care, has been thinking about her future. When she connected with Life Without Barriers earlier this year, Matthew Frylink, Child and Family Practitioner, sat down with Emma to identify her goals and help create a plan to achieve them. This was when Emma expressed her interest in becoming a professional in the beauty industry. Together, they broke down the steps Emma would need to take to make this happen.

One of the first things they focused on was looking into TAFE courses, so Emma had something to work towards while still in school. Matthew took Emma to visit Queensland TAFE so she could learn more about beauty school. Emma also experiences social anxiety, so having support whilst visiting new spaces was an important part of this process.

“It went really well when we went to Queensland TAFE. Emma was able to answer all of their questions and speak up for herself. It was really good to see her advocate for herself,” said Matthew.

Emma was excited about the TAFE course and has set this down as her long-term goal for when she finishes school. In the interim, Matthew encouraged Emma to work on some of her short-term goals.

“I suggested to her that we work on some of her short-term goals, and once we ticked those off, we could look at doing a short beauty course,’ said Matthew.

Emma’s goals focused on setting up some essential things she would need for her future, such as a bank account, tax file number and identification.

“Emma was really motivated. She smashed through her goals and got everything set up, so we started looking into beauty courses,” said Matthew.

Emma began the process of researching different beauty courses, and she went to visit some of the beauty schools with Matthew. They found a school close to where Emma lived that was also accommodating to Emma’s needs.

With the support of Matthew, Emma then began the three-month process of organising funding to access the course.

“Life Without Barriers provided a portion of the funding for the course. However, we also needed to organise funding through the department,” said Matthew.

“Through that process, Emma was able to learn some budgeting skills. She also made some big steps in advocating for herself.

“It's important for her advocacy that they see her and hear her voice. So, Emma spoke to the senior team leader about the funding, and it got approved.”

“She's been a really strong advocate for herself, which is awesome to see for a 14-year-old girl,” said Megan Mills, Program Manager, Child youth and family QLD.

“She is good at knowing what she wants and asking for it, so that's really positive.”

Emma found a lot of success in the beauty course. She interacted with others, asked lots of questions, and learnt some new skills. During the course, there was one particularly memorable moment for Emma.

Emma had needed a model to come in for one of the assessments, and it was Matthew who put his hand up.

“The school said they might be able to organise a model for Emma, but I had already told her that I was more than happy to be a model for her,” Matthew said.

“Emma had asked the lady facilitating the course if a male had ever been a model before, and she said no, this was the first time a male had ever done it. So, Emma was pretty chuffed with that.”

“Matt was definitely a really good sport to get involved with that. I think it was a real relationship-building exercise,” said Megan.

Matthew Frylink lying on a bench undergoing a beauty treatment.

Matthew has a great relationship with Emma and, at her request, he went along to each session of the course to provide support.

“I’m all the wiser for it,” Matthew laughed.

“She had been learning how to apply the individual lashes. I was not aware of how long it took to get your lashes done. It's a long process.”

Now that the beauty course has come to an end, Emma is working on some of her other short-term goals.

“Emma wants to learn some new skills. She loves cooking, so she has booked a six-week cooking course next year. She is really keen to start that,” said Matthew.

“We are also continuing to support Emma in rebuilding her relationship with her mother. Her mum has been on board with this, which has been really good. This has also led to Emma reconnecting with her grandmother as well.”

Emma has also started exploring her Aboriginal heritage and learning more about her culture.

“Emma doesn’t want to explore her family history just yet due to some past experiences. But she did want to learn more about her culture,” said Matthew.

“We started introducing some activities in our work with Emma, such as painting boomerangs. Emma took some extra boomerangs and paint home too, so she could do it with her younger siblings.

“During NAIDOC Week, we also went out and got some posters about NAIDOC Week, which Emma put up around the house.

“So, we have been seeing how we can weave it in everyday life moments so it can feel like a more natural, comfortable space for Emma to sit in and then we will take her lead on where to go from there.”

Over the last six months, Emma has made a lot of progress and accomplished some huge milestones. She now feels well-prepared for the future and is on the way to achieving her goals.

“Emma has worked hard to make some big changes, and I am really proud to see the progress she has made. She has a real ambition to improve her life and get ahead,” said Matthew.

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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