June 1 2015

Getting help when you leave care: Sharna’s Story

My name’s Sharna. I’m 20 years old and I live with my Grandma. I was lucky enough to live with my Grandma for the 16 years that I was in care.

Being in care and leaving care is a different experience for every young person. We all have unique needs and wants. I think one great thing about the Next Step After Care service is that young people will be able to access the type and level of support that is right for them.

For me, the financial support that I received when I left care was really helpful. It meant that I was able to purchase essential household items like a couch, TV, washing machine, bedroom suite and a fridge. This made a difference in my life because it meant that I didn’t have to sleep on a mattress on the floor. It made my bland unit feel like a home.

Some young people also want and need support connecting with their birth family after they’ve left care. This is something that I’ve been exploring lately and something I can see Next Step helping young people with.

I also think Next Step can play a vital role in teaching young people about simple but very important things like how to cook, how to clean, how to look after a house and basic etiquette skills. Some young people in care haven’t always had exposure to good role models, they don’t always know how to have conversations and how to be polite and respectful. Having a role model to teach them these things will have a big impact on their life, especially when it comes time to find a job.

I’m really excited that a service like Next Step is now available to young people who have transitioned to independence. Young people really need support once they’ve left care and it’s great that it finally exists.

It will impact young people because they won’t feel so alone, they will feel like someone’s on their side and is looking out for them especially when things go wrong and they don’t always know where to go or who to go to for help. I’ve been lucky enough to have my Grandma help me but I know others don’t have this type of support.

It’s also great that young people will no longer have to rely on a Google search to find help. It’s hard to know which services are legitimate so I think that Next Step will help take out a lot of the guesswork and stress out of this for young people.

Things have been going really well for me since I left care two years ago. I currently volunteer at an after school child care centre and work casually as a childcare assistant. I’ve also just started studying a Diploma of Early Childhood, which I enjoy. I’m really passionate about helping to improve the child protection system so I spend a lot of time doing advocacy work with CREATE.

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