Living Local. Building Communities.


Melissa’s story

  • December 2015
  • Posted Administrator
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Photo: Melissa CWH tenant - I absolutely love the growing the local community

I moved to Sydney in 2012 to have a fresh start with my girls after leaving a 16yr marriage and going through the Christchurch earthquakes.

I was living the “Kiwi Dream” until I had a stress-induced breakdown and was diagnosed as having bipolar.  Life then turned upside down with facing many challenges trying to get medical support and access to a range of support networks and government benefits due to my visa status. In 2001 the Australian government had changed the NZ visa law which now denies any Kiwis that are working and living here, the rights to vote, gain permanent residency, or have any access to any of the Centrelink benefits if facing hardship or any tough times.

As I didn’t want to give up on my dream and absolutely love Sydney as a place to live and raise a family, I knew I had no choice but to send my girls temporarily back to NZ due to having no support here in Sydney.  The goal was 6 weeks for them to stay at my parents to give me the time to get back up on my feet and at least functional. Unfortunately   the girls ended up having to stay for 9 weeks…a double edged sword! I was missing them so much which took me into a major depression, but I knew I was not well enough to care for them and had to be selfish by putting my mental health needs first well  testing out various medications to help me get stable and finding the right  one that would work for me.

At this time I was incapable of working my normal job as a teacher, or any job for that matter!  I ended up surviving on the amazing charities that Sydney has, for food and toiletries.  Unfortunately, there was no support to help me with my rent and due to my visa status I was unable to access the sickness or disability allowance, or even a one off hardship payment. Before long I got behind on rent and received a termination notice. At the time I was living in Potts Point so I was very familiar with the scene in Kings Cross and ended up doing a couple of jobs so that I was able to  keep a roof over my head for myself and my children.

A year later I faced another hurdle finding temporary accommodation when I was in between moving places. I had decided to study and be at home for my girls more so took on a part-time job working 5 afternoons.  With this choice (and input from the girls wanting and needing me around more instead of babysitters) my income dropped so I needed to move into a one bedroom unit.

All was going well with the planned move until the move in date changed on me. I found myself needing temporary accommodation for 2 weeks but had no funds. Yet again Centrelink was unable to help me, local women refuges would not take in my children and myself as they are funded by the government, and the homeless hotline would not help us until we were actually sleeping on the streets.

I only received last minute support after planning a sleep-out to raise awareness about my issues when I was 3 days off being homeless and on the streets with my children.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about helping people get back on their feet and making positive changes for people in today’s society.

Though my life experiences I have learnt a lot about myself and what it is like to hit rock bottom but to also have determination to push through those tough times.  My career has now taken on a different path and I have started up my own business as a personal development and relationship coach.

I also enjoy being proactive and involved with the local communities and offer self-development workshops for those that want to build on their inner-confidence and self-worth.

So what do you do for fun and what makes you happy?

Spending time at home with my beautiful girls, music, friends, travel (once I can afford to again!), markets, food and wine festivals, networking, reading, being active, healthy and fit, movies, mountain biking, nature, camping and  bbq’s and coffee!

How did you hear about CWH?

I heard about CWH through a local charity in Woolloomooloo called Hope Street.

When I received the offer of a brand new two bedroom apartment in Eveleigh I was over the moon!

I couldn’t believe that I was soon to be moving into a new two bedroom apartment and paying less than I had been living in an old rundown unit.

I feel blessed to be in such a beautiful apartment and now finally feel as If I have a place that the girls and I can call ‘Home’.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I absolutely love the growing local community that is happening within The Platform apartments. My children are so happy living here and have made good friends that they hang out with after school and on the weekends.

I myself have also made friends and love that I have neighbours close by that I can call on for socially or if in need of support.

I have found Darlington Public School to be very supportive and a good school for my girls to attend. They transitioned and made friends very easily considering that they were enrolled mid-term.

The Eveleigh Markets brings a great vibe to the neighbourhood every Saturday, and I love living near Carriageworks where there is always so much happening.

The local pub the “Cornerstone” is a fab place to meet friends or have meetings at with the space   being very open. Also with free Wi-Fi, friendly staff and great coffee, you can’t complain!