Lucy* is a friend and colleague of ours, and an amazing member of Melbourne’s social justice activist community. She is a young Aboriginal woman who grew up dealing with severe instability and violence – first in her own family, and then within the so-called “child protection system”. She was homeless at 13 years of age. Unable to access the support she needed to cope with her trauma, Lucy became dependent on drugs and trapped in abusive relationships, ultimately ending up in prison. Like so many women, she was criminalised for harming her own body through drugs, not for hurting anybody else.
But against all these odds, Lucy has found amazing opportunities for a bright future. She has won scholarships to two prestigious training programs run by progressive NGOs, and is rapidly developing her skills as an advocate. She has flourished in these programs, developing a network of friends and supporters, travelling to Canberra to meet with politicians and share her story, and receiving standing ovations at conferences when she has delivered speeches calling for reform to the prison and child protection systems. She has raised an adorable toddler.
When Lucy’s recent relationship became increasingly violent, she drew on the self-confidence and support she had built around herself and got up the courage to leave. She was able to receive support from crisis services initially, but, with public housing waiting lists 12+ years long, she was left with no further support. DHS have removed her daughter, saying that they will not return her until Lucy has stable housing. The system has, in effect, made Lucy feel like she is being punished for leaving her violent partner.
While Lucy is earning a small income from the NGOs supporting her training, it is not enough to cover Bond, furniture and other essentials she needs to rebuild her life. She is currently trapped in a couchsurfing situation, which is incredibly destabilising.
We are hoping to raise $5,000 so that Lucy can secure safe housing for herself and her young daughter. Can you help?
*Name changed for privacy reasons
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