stories & outcomes
Lighthouse Young Person
When Asan’s parents were killed in a war waging in his country of birth, he joined the growing ranks of other war orphans searching for a place to call home. Like many others, he ended up on his own in a refugee camp. Eventually, Asan arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker and endured another long wait to be placed in out-of-home care. When that didn’t happen, he ended up homeless and living rough in Melbourne. When he was referred to Lighthouse by another agency in 2014, he was 17 and carrying an extremely large suitcase.
Asan had been living in our Bonbeach home for about a week when his carers noted the impeccable way he made his bed each day, carefully placing the cushions in their original positions, without a wrinkle in the bedding. The truth eventually came out: he had been sleeping on the floor. “This floor, this warm carpet, this room that has a door I can close ... is all I need,” Asan told the carers. “This is the best I have ever known. You can put another person in that bed.”
It took many hours of counselling to help him understand that he was worthy of sleeping in the bed – and worthy of making the best of his true potential. The large suitcase, which Asan had apparently found abandoned just before entering the home, also proved to be nothing more than a container for the usual small plastic bag of possessions.
Over time, he developed a close and trusting relationship with the full-time male carer in the home. One of Asan’s ongoing issues was dealing with anxiety. He also had to overcome severe insomnia and frequently woke in panic, covered with sweat. The traumas of his past needed to be worked through with the help of the experienced
team at Lighthouse.
During the 18 months he lived with us, Asan found somewhere he could heal, pursue an education, and thinking about his future career. He made friendships, improved his English, and found mentors within the Lighthouse community. Over time, his brilliant smile and his natural, sunny personality began to emerge. His English improved rapidly and he loved to chat. He taught the carers and his housemates how to cook dishes from his homeland and led several fishing trips to the nearby river.
One of Lighthouse’s corporate supporters offered him an apprenticeship in an auto workshop, which he enthusiastically accepted. Unfortunately, he only lasted one month in the position. He began to be late to work, was tired and lethargic, and found the technical systems difficult to manage. Asan felt that he had let everybody down and fell into a depression. After more counselling from his care team, he agreed to enrol in a professional barista course at TAFE. He excelled in the course and its practical work experience placements. As a chatty ‘people person’, he was ideally suited to working in hospitality and customer service, rather than being in a technical workshop. Once a qualified barista, Asan found work in a café and grew in confidence to the point where he successfully transitioned to independent living.
Asan’s uncle, one of his few living relatives, immigrated to Australia and established himself in Sydney. Asan moved there to live with him and soon found a permanent full-time job in a café. He still keeps in touch with his old household at our Bonbeach house and has regular phone catch-ups with the Lighthouse outreach team. During some of his early outreach conversations he shared his dreams about one day running his own business with a coffee cart or café. We are delighted to report that Asan’s latest news is that he has just launched his own small hospitality business.
Lighthouse Young Person
Seventeen-year-old Taio came to Lighthouse after a period of homelessness in which he moved around various emergency shelters and refuges, and slept in a car with a friend. He found himself alone after his single mother, who had complex mental health issues and drug addictions, moved in with a new partner. Tiao, who had endured abuse for a long time within his own home, wasn’t welcome in the new living arrangement.
Lighthouse provided a secure and safe family home in which Taio could rest and recover, and get some medical attention for his health issues. With unhappy past school experiences, and very low confidence, he was reluctant to return to school, and after several months, and several attempts at re-entering school, his Lighthouse carer then focused on assisting him into beginning a TAFE training course which will qualify him to gain work in Aged Care.
Now almost 19, Taio is taking longer than the usual time to complete his training certificate, and he will need a great deal of further support to gain his qualification. He is shining in the hands-on work placement elements, but is struggling with the written assignments, and in the demands of meeting time commitments. There are many positives to his situation, as he is gradually learning to manage the routines of getting himself to and from his study, and he is taking better care of himself.
For Taio, coming into the Lighthouse program has enabled him to get the psychological counselling he needed, in order to deal with the traumas of his past. His future is looking hopeful, and his Lighthouse carers will be there beside him, helping him make each step towards the life he deserves.
Bianca and baby Kaylan's story
Lighthouse Young Person
Imagine being 20-years-old, 38 weeks pregnant and homeless. It seems unimaginable that a young woman in Australia could find herself in such a vulnerable position, but that was true for Bianca.
After years of struggling with substance abuse, Bianca had completed a rehabilitation program to try and prepare herself for motherhood- but with nowhere to call home or social supports available to her, both of their futures were at serious risk.
Thankfully Bianca was referred to Lighthouse, and warmly welcomed into our young parents and babies’ program. It was tough at first, she admits, “learning to live with structure and allowing someone else to care for me was hard”, but for the first time, in a long time, she was safe.
Bianca slowly adapted to her new life at Lighthouse, and after giving birth to her baby boy, Kaylan, embraced the wraparound support provided by her carers and psychologists. Every single day, their thoughtful and predictable engagement with Bianca helped to repair her shattered worldview- proving that genuine, healthy and trustworthy relationships were possible.
After twelve months at Lighthouse, Bianca had developed a strong attachment with baby Kaylan and learnt the vital parenting skills needed to take care of him and most importantly, herself. Having now left the program and transitioned into independent living, Bianca is hopeful for the future and has plans to complete her VCAL and enrol in a Bachelor of Nursing.
We couldn’t be more proud of this young Mum and what she has achieved over the past year. Little Kaylan is lucky to have such a strong role-model in his life, and both of them will always have a place to call home here at Lighthouse as a part of our ‘On for Life’ promise.
Lighthouse Young Person
Dylan was abandoned by his mother when he was a young baby. Family members took him in; however, they weren’t equipped to raise a small child who had experienced such significant loss. Over the next 10 years, Dylan was shuffled around various institutions and foster care homes.
Later in life and desperate for a sense of belonging, he turned to negative peer groups and had several stints in the juvenile justice system. Over time, our Carers helped him understand the likely consequences of choosing to hang out with negatives influences and continuing to be involved in unlawful activities.
Lighthouse has given Dylan a ‘safe place’ – somewhere to call home. He has developed strong bonds with members of our Care team and prefers to hang out with his Carers and other Lighthouse community members rather than being involved with negative influences. Lighthouse has become his family. Dylan is about to start a hospitality course and we believe he is now in a position to switch to a very different life trajectory from when he first arrived at Lighthouse.
Former Lighthouse Young Person
Neve came to Lighthouse because her parents were unable to care for her as they had to go into psychiatric units for long stays at a time. Never had been abused as a child and needed constant support for her ongoing self-harm and psychotic episodes.
Over the years, she was able to attend in-house counseling and had the support of the local doctor. She changed from being someone who had frequent admissions to the hospital to a beautiful young woman who is now celebrating her daughter's fifth birthday and her eighth anniversary of marriage with her supportive husband. She has not had a hospital admission for these five years. Neve during her time at Lighthouse, became a Carer herself and supported lots of other Young People who entered the program and was a gorgeous, welcoming, and emotionally supportive Carer to these Young People.