June 24 2015

“Make sure you can afford the toilet paper.”

sarah photoWhen I transitioned from care, I received some very sage advice from the adults in my life.

“Lock all the doors and windows at night!”

“Eat all of your leftovers!”

“Make sure you can afford the toilet paper!”

Despite this wonderful advice, I remained totally naive to the trials and tribulations that were to come.

I transitioned at the tender age of seventeen. And, boy, was I clueless.

Don’t get me wrong – I was quite independent, and (I thought) very mature for my age.

But, growing up in care had left some pretty big gaps in my knowledge of adulthood.

The time to move arrived. Everything I owned was packed up and ready to go.

“Oi, Louie! Lend us your ute?”

We were off.

The first night was wonderful. The girls and I listened to Kasabian and Queens of the Stone Age. We stayed up all night. We were our own masters.

The second night, we lost power.

Bewildered, we wondered why the lights wouldn’t work and the fridge was getting warm.

Lesson No. 1: Set up an electricity and gas account BEFORE you move in. Some common electricity and gas companies are Origin (13 24 61) or AGL (131 245). Have your bank account details ready and give them a call. It’s a good idea to set up an automatic payment, so you don’t forget when your bills are due. If you’re shy or uncertain of how to proceed, you can call 1800 NEXT STEP for a hand.

Sorted. We were faced with this minor challenge, but we handled it. We were independent. We were cool. We were up for anything.

Until one week later…

I was sitting on the balcony, watching the sun set, reading a book. I could hear my housemate having a shower… at least half an hour later she was still in the shower.

I decided to investigate. I walked past the bathroom and that’s when I saw it.

Water. Everywhere. Water. Down the corridor. Water. In our bedrooms. WE WERE FLOODING!

The water main, which was under the bathroom sink, had burst. Nobody was in the shower. The torrential water I heard was in fact a common household mishap.

Lesson No. 2: Be prepared for the unexpected. Have a list of emergency contacts. Stick it on your fridge. You can ask your real estate agent for an emergency contact for a plumber and an electrician, if they don’t provide it when you move in. Some other useful numbers include:

  • Queensland Poisons Information Centre – 13 11 26
  • Police/Fire/Ambulance – 000
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • And, of course, Next Step After Care – 1800 NEXT STEP or 1800 639 878

That way, if you experience an emergency, you’ll be armed with more than just a bucket.

By Sarah Gough.

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