A friendly presence by a qualified social worker at the Aboriginal Catholic Care Centre at Emerton in Western Sydney provided just the link Adam* needed to reach out for support and end his long-term experience of homelessness.
Adam is a member of the Stolen Generations and was removed from his family when he was young.
From that difficult beginning, as he grew into adulthood, Adam ended up living a life of addiction, incarceration, and homelessness. There have been times he has existed by couch-surfing and other times when he was sleeping rough in the streets.
Now, as an older man, Adam would occasionally pop into the Aboriginal Catholic Care community drop-in centre and ask for various kinds of help, but then, he would disappear again.
“We tried for a long period of time to sit him down and see how we could make things work for him,” says Georgie Crabb, caseworker at Catholic Care Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
“But for a long time, he would just pop in and out.
“Then one day recently, he turned up and he had a readiness to make change in his life.”
This time when he visited the Emerton community drop-in centre, Adam had been sober from his addictions for some months and was seeking help to find a home and change his life situation.
“Adam is from the Stolen Generations and his disrupted childhood meant his communication skills were not the best. He would get very angry at everything and everybody, and this was reflected in his long-term incarceration and addiction,” Georgie says.
“But once he made up his mind to kick his addiction, he found that he could connect with the people at Aboriginal Catholic Care, and we could help him find a place to live. He’s done an amazing job at facing up to those addictions.”
Georgie says she was able to find a room that was vacant and available for him at case-managed accommodation in the Blue Mountains.
“I was able to coach him through the process of being housed and we were able to find him community housing, which meant he wasn’t dependent on being eligible for Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing,” she says.
“The process of applying for DCJ housing can be so traumatising for some people that they don’t follow it through.
“So, he was interviewed for this community housing, and we coached him through the interview process and attended the interview with him and then took him to the property.”
Catholic Care also helped source basic necessities such as a bed, a fridge, a television, and food.
Adam has now been in his new accommodation for several months and, while being able to visit friends and family in Western Sydney, he is able to live away from some of the negative social influences of his past.
Georgie says the Aboriginal Catholic Care community drop-in centre was central to being able to connect with Adam and his needs.
“It’s really about Catholic Care being a presence in the community and having the right support person there at the right time,” Georgie says.
“Having a skilled social worker at Emerton is really now in danger for us.”
Government funding for Catholic Care’s Housing, Care and Support program will cease at the end of June, meaning support from the diocesan community is even more crucial to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the Western Sydney and Blue Mountains area.
“It’s such a desperate need, especially for this kind of community housing,” says Georgie. “Any support is so much appreciated.”
You can help more people like Adam with life-changing support with a gift to the Bishop’s Good Samaritan Appeal today by calling (02) 8838 3482 or visiting yourcatholicfoundation.org.au/bishops-samaritan-co-appeal-23
*Name has been changed for privacy protection.