Alex and Pebbles  |  Jadene  |  Scott  |  Katie  |  Steff  |  We all Dance  |  Sonya  |  Scott – Jane Street Garden

Alex and Pebbles

Alex had lived with her ageing mother for several years in her mother’s unit. But during a short stay in the hospital, Alex discovered that her mother had been admitted to a care facility by family members in her absence. She also learned that her dog, Pebbles had been placed in a boarding kennel and her home was in the hands of an executor.

Alex was distraught.

“I had expected to check out of surgery and go home to my Mum and dog.”

Unable to come up with the $600 weekly rent the executor required for her to stay, Alex was served eviction notices. “I’m certain that’s not what Mum wanted to happen.”

“Families disagree, but you don’t think this kind of thing will ever happen to you.”

Alex spent 10 months living in her car before it was seized by police. Having registered her car in her mother’s name the vehicle had been reported stolen by the executor. She spent another two months sleeping in the park before Micah Projects Street to Home team was able to help her find temporary, then permanent accommodation, which they fitted out with a fridge, washing machine, TV and all the basic necessities to establish a new home.

“What I like best is they just ring me now and then to check how I’m going. It makes me feel like someone really cares like I’m not an ‘it’ or a thing, but a real person.

“I’ve been living in my new home for 15 months now. And I finally feel like I’m worthy of having a life.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler
Photography by Katie Bennett

Alex and Pebbles  •  Jadene  •  Scott  •  Katie  •  Steff  •  We all Dance  •  Sonya  •  Scott – Jane Street Garden

Jadene

As a tenant of Brisbane Common Ground, Jadene received a flyer in her mailbox in October 2017 advertising a new program Micah Projects would be running in vocational pathways and hospitality. Uncertain about where her current university studies were taking her, Jadene reached out to team member Annette to discuss the program.

She quickly decided to defer from her university studies, knowing she could always return later, in favour of trying a hands-on course that could potentially deliver more immediate employment opportunities.

Jadene was quickly convinced she had made the right decision.

“The course was free, close by, and would give me a qualification in months not years. Micah even helped with transport to class. They just really want you to succeed.”

Within weeks of starting the program, and with the encouragement of the trainers, Jadene applied for and was offered a hospitality traineeship. This led to a full-time job in hotel reception at a leading hotel in Uluru.

“I couldn’t believe it at first.”
“In October, I got a flyer in the mail and by January I was completing my course and being offered a job in a 5-star hotel in the Northern Territory.

“I feel like a different person since I started the course. I’ve grown. The people encouraged me to look at myself a different way. They made me stop and think—Yes, I’m articulate. Yes, I can do it.

“Without this course I never would have applied. And without the skills I learned from class I wouldn’t have been prepared for the interviews.

“Micah was there for me when I moved into Brisbane Common Ground. And now, in just three months, this course has changed my life.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler
Photography by Katie Bennett

Alex and Pebbles  •  Jadene  •  Scott  •  Katie  •  Steff  •  We all Dance  •  Sonya  •  Scott – Jane Street Garden

Scott

Scott was living on the streets of Fortitude Valley when welfare workers referred him to Micah Projects. The Home for Good team helped him to secure temporary accommodation.

But within days, Scott’s life changed dramatically. A cut on Scott’s ankle that had gone unattended while he was sleeping rough had become infected, all the way to the bone. Despite the best efforts of his doctors, Scott required a below knee amputation.

“I went through a pretty dark period. I was trying to deal with losing my leg and phantom limb syndrome but all I could think of was the room I’d finally gotten was on the top floor of a place with stairs. I had no idea where I was going to go when I had to leave the hospital in a wheelchair.

“I called Micah for help, and they were terrific. They found a ground floor place for me to move into, and they packed and moved all my stuff. When I left the hospital I had a place to go, with all my belongings there. It sounds silly, but losing my stuff would have broken me. I didn’t have that many things, but what I did have I’d spent my life getting and it was important to me. I couldn’t have lost anything else right then and kept going.

“The nursing team at Micah helped with my medication and kept an eye on my surgery site. They helped me get to physio and doctors’ appointments, and assisted me to get reenlisted with the Department of Housing. I couldn’t have managed it on my own. It was just too overwhelming and I would have been lost without Micah.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler
Photography by Craig Holmes

Alex and Pebbles  •  Jadene  •  Scott  •  Katie  •  Steff  •  We all Dance  •  Sonya  •  Scott – Jane Street Garden

Katie

Katie had been couch surfing with her two children for four years when she came to Micah Projects for assistance.

Families Team Support and Advocacy Worker Karla advocated for a number of months for Katie to be placed on the wait-list for community and public housing.

The advocacy work delivered the best possible outcome. Katie and her children were returned to the Department of Housing wait-list and within weeks they were offered Community Housing.

“My children and I were couch surfing for a long while, but since Karla has been working with me, everything’s been going great.

“Within six weeks she’d found us community housing and given us all the furniture we needed to set up the house—a fridge, washing machine, beds, even the removalists. We had nothing at all when we were couch surfing. Then we had a home and all the furniture we needed to make a start.

“All my kids ever wanted was to have their own home, own rooms and their own beds to sleep in.

“It’s really hard keeping things stable for your kids when you’re couch surfing, but once we had housing, Karla helped me get the kids enrolled in school. They’re happier than they have ever been.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler
Photography by Katie Bennett

Alex and Pebbles  •  Jadene  •  Scott  •  Katie  •  Steff  •  We all Dance  •  Sonya  •  Scott – Jane Street Garden

Steff

At 19, Steff instantly sensed there was something special about the Micah Projects Young Mothers for Young Women (YMYW) program which provides support for young, pregnant and parenting women.

“There’s a very different vibe, and you can sense it as soon as you walk in. It’s support without judgement.”

YMYW’s partnership with the Mater provided all of Steff’s antenatal check-ups onsite, as well as providing social support and dedicated playgroup sessions for young mothers and their children.

“None of the other young mums I knew from outside the program were getting anything like this kind of support from their antenatal care.”

A quick succession of challenges following the birth of her second child left Steff in a precarious position.

“My husband left, I was on maternity leave with no income, and a lease that was about to expire. I was living with postnatal depression and I had a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old baby to care for. I reached out to Kate from YMYW for help.

“I told her I was terrified we were about to become homeless. She called up Hannah from the Micah Projects Families team. Within three weeks they’d found us housing.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have Kate and Hannah on my side.”

Since then Steff has gone on to become an employee for Micah Projects, initially as a peer worker for the YMYW program, and most recently as a worker in the occasional child care service.

“Being able to work for the same organisation that helped me is pretty awesome.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler
Photography by Katie Bennett

Alex and Pebbles  •  Jadene  •  Scott  •  Katie  •  Steff  •  We all Dance  •  Sonya  •  Scott – Jane Street Garden

We all dance

A community engagement project in partnership with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC).

In July 2017 a group of individuals supported by Micah Projects had the opportunity to take to the stage with members of the world-famous Royal Ballet at QPAC.

‘We All Dance’ was a collaborative project between the visiting ballet company, its teaching artists and community groups across Southeast Queensland to create and perform a series of short new dance pieces. It was nominated for the Australian Dance Awards.

Micah Projects staff members Tony and Manny were also participants.

Tony said it was a once in a lifetime experience.
“Our dancers included people who experience social isolation. They might need help with social skills and everyday life skills. They aren’t typically brimming with confidence, and they would never expect to have an opportunity to dance on stage with professional dancers from the Royal Ballet. But they just blossomed.”

As a qualified occupational therapist, Manny was moved by the change it made in the participants.

“The project was truly transformative for the people who participated.

“Our dancers included people with mobility impairments, including people using walkers and mobility devices. So it was physically challenging, but it was also mentally and emotionally challenging.

“They flourished in the safe environment. The more they learned, the more their confidence grew.”

“I’ll never forget, one of the participants came off the stage with a smile from ear to ear. He was radiating joy. He looked at me and said ‘I feel happy’. It was so moving I had tears.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler
Photography by Craig Homes

Sonya's Story

Alex and Pebbles  •  Jadene  •  Scott  •  Katie  •  Steff  •  We all Dance  •  Sonya  •  Scott – Jane Street Garden

Sonya

Financial abuse is often used by abusers to control their partner, trapping them in the relationship by ensuring they don’t have the financial capacity to leave. For some it can be especially devastating, lingering long after they have fled the relationship, preventing them from starting fresh and building a new life for them and their children.

In 2017/18 Micah Projects appointed Daniela, a dedicated financial Counsellor to the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) team. This counsellor provides free and confidential financial and budgeting information to women who experience financial hardship and stress arising from domestic violence.

Since joining the team, Daniela has provided financial Counselling to 151 women and negotiated with creditors to eliminate $40,026 worth of debt incurred through financial abuse.

“We’ve helped women who have been coerced to sign for credit or loans, forced to put all the household bills in their name that were never paid, had abusers continue to incur debts after they’ve left, and fail to submit tax returns impacting their ability to access Centrelink benefits, just to name a few scenarios.”

Sonya, a woman who has used the financial counselling service, said it changed her life.

“I walked into Micah with my kids and the clothes on our backs. I was embarrassed, and I had no idea how to find a way out of the debt. But there was no judgement, and over the months we’ve been working together, Daniela’s negotiated to reduce my debt by $14,952. The balance isn’t zero, but it’s manageable.

“Daniela and BDVS were heaven sent.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler

Alex and Pebbles  •  Jadene  •  Scott  •  Katie  •  Steff  •  We all Dance  •  Sonya  •  Scott – Jane Street Garden

Scott – Jane Street Garden

When professional sailor Scott stepped ashore in Brisbane in 2017, he was looking to find a community to belong to with a shared dedication to living sustainably. He found the Jane Street Community Garden and quickly volunteered.

“For me, volunteering is a no-brainer. I think it’s important to do work for other people and not just for yourself. It’s a way to give back to the community.”

Jane Street Community Garden has been operating for over 10 years and grows nearly 200 different varieties of edible plants. Running as a diverse, organic, permaculture garden, it also boasts the largest composting community hub in Brisbane.

The garden attracts volunteers and members with a wide variety of gardening experience.

“I didn’t have a strong gardening background when I started, but I’ve learned a great deal.”

Scott says the garden has delivered the community he was seeking, with the focus on sustainability he wanted.

“It’s been wonderful to watch the community grow in the time I have been there. Our first ever Garden Solstice dinner was a great success, and attendance at education workshops is growing. The composting and pond building workshops maxed out.

“It’s very rewarding to see people coming together to learn new skills they can take home.

“Yes we grow food in the garden, but the real harvest is in the knowledge we’re giving to the community, and not in the food itself.”

Story by Juanita Wheeler
Photography by Craig Holmes