I once was lost but now I’m found, thanks to Vinnies
Each night in Australia 105,000 people are homeless, including 7,500 families. Each June leading Australian CEOs and business leaders sleep rough for one night in support of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout.
Contrary to common perceptions about homelessness, 44 per cent of homeless people are women, many of these accompanied by children. It is a shocking fact that more than 12,000 Australian children under the age of 12 are experiencing some form of homelessness. A further 22,000 young people aged 12 to 18 are homeless, most of them estranged from their families. That’s more than 34,000 kids without a place they can call home.
Speaking at the recent launch of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout 2012, Dr John Falzon, St Vincent de Paul Society CEO, National Council said: “Children who are homeless are more likely to become homeless later in life and raise families who, in turn, also become homeless. You can guess why we haven’t solved the problem.”
Homeless people are amongst the most disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable people in our community. They are often faceless, and almost always voiceless.
One such woman, Constance, has now rebuilt her life and shares her story:
At the end of 2009 I became homeless. At that time, I was a victim of domestic violence and I was a stranger in a country half way around the world from my home.
I came to Australia in 2007 with my husband and my daughter. Soon after we arrived here his behaviour took a severe and very dark turn. He became verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive. In October 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my husband had a manic episode with psychotic features that hospitalised him for 3 months. I went through cancer treatment with little to no support as I had no family here other than my 12 year old daughter.
After many attempts with counselling and multiple AVOs filed by the NSW Police against my husband, I decided I had had enough and attempted to end the marriage.
My husband decided that he would “punish” me one last time. In his leaving, he took our business, emptied our bank accounts, and on the final day he even took the tent that I thought was going to be my shelter as he had me evicted from my home. At this point, I felt like I had lost everything, but I was wrong.
I spent months bouncing around from place to place, sleeping at friends’ homes, in my car, and even in the Royal National Park. I went to Centrelink for assistance and they referred me to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
They became my support and my life began to turn around. They assisted me with everything from food and shelter, to court appearances and counselling. They helped me find a job and a place to live for my daughter and myself and their kindness and support will never be forgotten.
After things had settled, I thought about how I could make a difference in the lives of other women and children who were experiencing the same things that I had been through.
I began to take some courses to learn how to empower myself and others. Not long after, I assisted my first client and my new life had begun.
Today, I own a Multi-Dimensional Healing Practice and have clients all over Australia and in 30 countries across the globe. I assist people with creating the life they truly desire.
This is only the beginning. Thanks to the assistance from Vinnies I have recovered my true self.
The French poet, Paul Eluard, famously said:
There is another world but it is in this one. This other world is one in which no one is left out in the cold.
It is the world that the Vinnies CEO Sleepout is trying to create.
The Vinnies CEO Sleepout 2012 will take place across the country on 21 June 2012. For more information visit the website.
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