Anthea is an artist and frequently volunteers at Kambarang Women’s Refuge teaching art classes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women escaping domestic violence or other life crises. Seeing her today, it’s hard to imagine the tumultuous journey Anthea went through to pick up her brush again and pursue her dreams.
“I was thrown out of a home and had nowhere to go. I was afraid and I struggled to come to terms with my reality. I had lost sight of who I was, where I was and what was happening. I felt that no one cared.”
Already facing the harsh realities of homelessness, Anthea was further challenged by a health crisis.
“I hit rock bottom when I got a Melanoma on my left foot and had to undergo a below the knee amputation. It was during this dark moment of my life that I came into contact with the 50 Lives 50 Homes (50L50H) program.”
50L50H was a collaborative impact program providing Western Australia’s most vulnerable rough sleepers with safe and permanent accommodations and then supporting them with wrap around support to help them retain their residencies. Its legacy continues today with the Zero Project.
The 50L50H team helped Anthea to secure long-term housing and supported her to access the medical treatment she needed. Despite her improved living conditions, it took time for Anthea to readjust to her new living arrangements – she had grown accustomed to living on the streets.
“When I first moved into my home, I felt like an alien! I didn’t know how to live in a house. But now I can feel safe. I have four walls around me and I can be warm in winter and cook myself a meal”.
Today, the future looks bright for Anthea who continues to take bold strides to independence, resuming her career as a visual artist and reconnecting with her loved ones.
“I’m in my final semester of study for the Diploma of Visual Arts. I’m excited to graduate and pursue employment!
“As well, I was finally in a comfortable place to reach out to my children again. I let them know that I’m okay and let them be a part of my life again”.
Anthea hopes that sharing her story will bring hope to others experiencing homelessness.
“It’s very hard being homeless – there are struggles and it’s very depressing too. Ruah has programs to help support people so they don’t feel so much alone. It helps just to know people are there and that people do care.”
Anthea is one of many clients that have found safety and security with support from the 50 Lives 50 Homes program, and homelessness support from Ruah Community Services. You can read other stories here.
Watch Anthea and others share their stories in this short video.