Young people are some of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness in Victoria.
Every night, more than 6,000 young people experience homelessness.
My lived experience of homelessness began when I went into Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) care at the age of one. Both my parents were drug addicted and violent, and I was in and out of foster care until age 6. My foster care experience was extremely traumatic. I was placed with several different foster families and didn’t manage to build relationships anywhere.
When I was 6, I was placed back into the care of my parents and 2 years later, my mother suicided so I was put back into the foster care system. I tried to make it work this time around, but I just couldn’t handle the system anymore, so at 14, I ran away from my foster family after countless instances of abuse.
The rest of my teens saw me couch surfing, being put back into foster care, and being placed into residential care with my sister.
When I finally went into transitional housing, I moved in with a young girl where I felt extremely unsafe. She was going through a lot of mental health issues of her own and there were several occasions where she put me in very uncomfortable situations.
During my time in transitional housing, I got into a pretty serious relationship with a guy from Turkey, and we moved to Istanbul for 6 months. I was really excited about this opportunity because I got to travel for the first time but unfortunately, the relationship broke down and I had to fly back to Australia. When I arrived back, I was homeless again. I was in and out of refuges for the next 2 years and it felt like it would be impossible to get out of the cycle.
At 21, I obtained my own apartment through Office of Housing, which I still enjoy today. The most significant change in my narrative happened when a TAFE teacher noticed potential in me. She told me that she saw my struggles and identified my strengths. She told me that I would make a difference one day. From that day, I have worked to change my life around. Deep down, I knew I wanted to be different than my parents and she made me realise that I could do so much more for myself.
You can play your part in changing Cass's life or one of the more than 6,000 young people in Victoria with no place to call home.
Sleep At The ‘G on 10 May 2023 and raise essential funds to help put youth homelessness to bed.