Names and details have been changed to protect client privacy.
Amal was referred to Kara House by the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service in early 2011 after she fled the family home with her two teenage daughters.
Amal met her husband, a resident of Australia, in Lebanon in 2009, whilst he was on holiday. A year later they married and she moved to Australia with her daughters.
Within months of their married life, Amal was a victim of domestic violence perpetrated by her husband, and his former wife. Amal was sexually abused, financially abused and she was isolated.
Several weeks later, unobserved by her husband, Amal and her daughters walked out of the house. A passer-by seeing the distressed family took them to a police station and three days later she was in Kara House.
Amal could not speak English, did not have permanent residency, didn’t know Australia or its laws and customs. She had no money, was responsible for two children, was homeless and could not return to Lebanon.
Over the three weeks that Amal was in refuge, Kara House helped her to link into a GP, Centrelink, migration support, sexual assault counselling and legal aid. Kara House also provided Amal with food vouchers and material aid for 10 weeks before she was eligible for Centrelink income. She was taught basic living skills – how to catch public transport, where to shop, Australian money, the Court system.
Amal and the children were transferred to a transitional property with the help of Kara House and her support continued. There were many court visits which impacted greatly on Amal’s health. She was linked into a psychologist. The children were enrolled into a language school and they commenced counselling.
Amal and her daughters remained in transitional housing until 2014 when she was offered a property through the Department of Housing.
Amal can now speak English, she has permanent residency and she receives a benefit from Centrelink. Her daughters speak English and have continued on with their education.
They are settled and they feel safe.
Sarah, an aboriginal pregnant woman, came to our service in late 2013. Sarah had two other children that were in Department of Human services care. Sarah had a long history of distrust with the system and believed her unborn child would be taken by DHS.
As soon as Sarah came into refuge, she was linked in with the local doctor and pregnancy services to assist her with her birth. Kara House advocated with DHS for Sarah to be given a chance with her child. Sarah was put in a transitional property while pregnant and moved to a two bedroom property appropriate for when she gave birth. With stable accommodation, Sarah was able to successfully set up for the birth of her child. Sarah felt positive for her future.
Sarah gave birth earlier this year to a healthy baby boy closely observed by Kara House and other services we had referred her to. This including a close link to her culture through an Aboriginal Family Strengthening program. Odyssey House were also involved through the Kids in Focus program and worked intensively with Sarah to parent positively.
Sarah is now attending young parenting groups and doing well. She also has access to her two other children – something that had seemed impossible 12 months ago. With stability and support she has been able to turn her life around.