19 October 2022

Luke works hard to make positive changes with the support of his sister and Jason, his case manager.

A teenage boy with short brown hair wearing a green cap and a white t-shirt.

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

In recent years, Luke, a young person in care, has experienced a number of challenges that led him on a path of risky behaviours. Feeling frustrated and isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges were exacerbated, and Luke chose to return to the area where he grew up.

Unfortunately in this environment, Luke was exposed to people engaged in crime. He didn't want to try a new care placement, and with this lack of access to support, Luke turned to couch surfing. It wasn’t long until Luke was struggling financially and making dangerous choices to make ends meet.

Things started to change for Luke when he decided to move in with his older sister, Cara*.

Jason Dowie, Area Manager, Sydney Aboriginal Out of Home Care Team, stayed in contact with Luke throughout this time. Shortly after Luke moved in with his sister, Jason organised a home visit.

“I went out and did a home visit, and Luke was just a completely different person to how he had been,” said Jason.

“He had managed to source a job doing roof tiling. We also talked about different programs to link in with, which Luke was really keen to do.”

One of the programs Luke linked into was Mission Australia’s Youth On Track program, which acts as an early intervention scheme for young people at risk of long-term involvement in the criminal justice system.

“Luke has had two sessions with Sam from Youth On Track now. They have already built a great relationship; he loves working with him,” Jason said.

One of the hobbies Luke used to enjoy was boxing, and when chatting with Jason, he expressed a desire to pick the sport up again.

“Luke used to love boxing, so we spoke about a program called CONFIT,” said Jason.

CONFIT is a program run by a group of adults with experience in juvenile justice. The program includes group fitness classes such as boxing for young people at risk.

“This program is all about teaching young people positive ways to get the same rush of adrenaline and that sense of Brotherhood and connection that they are looking for,” said Jason.

Luke has come a long way over the last few months, and moving in with his sister has been a big part of the changes he has made.

“Cara has been such a positive influence on him. She’s taken him in, and she's really making it work.

“She has helped Luke put together a plan, set up his schedule and helped him set goals. Cara is doing everything that we would really love and hope that a carer would do.”

As well as supporting Luke, Cara is also a mum to three girls under eight years of age.

“I think the biggest influence on Luke is his relationship with his nieces. He understands his role in the family, the impact he has on his nieces and how kinship works in our families. He really sees the value in that,” said Jason.

“This is his biggest motivator because he doesn't want to burden his sister, and he doesn't want police coming to the door."

"He wants to be someone his nieces can look up to.”

Now that Luke has found stable ground, he has started making plans for the future.

“Some things Luke wants to work towards in the short term are getting his license and finding an apprenticeship as an electrician. Long term, he wants to get his own place to live. He is really motivated and has already started taking steps to achieve these goals,” said Jason.

“It has been great to see the progress Luke has made over the last few months. He is now on such a positive path, and I couldn’t be happier with how far he has come.”

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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