The Sydney Mansion providing a bedroom for teenage mothers at the hostel
Fathers are supported through outreach and case management programs, but are not provided with housing as many young mothers come from family violence backgrounds or have been assaulted outside the home.
Team leader Rachael Smith said there were eight bedrooms, but the intensive nature of the work meant they typically had a maximum of four young mothers at a time. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic meant two more young mothers moved in mid-year and Marnie was the only resident during the lockdown.
Marnie’s learning needs meant she had to learn parenting skills visually, with lots of repetition, and she worked with an occupational therapist who trained her to recognize baby’s cues. It’s a 12 month program, but it’s flexible; Marnie will remain at Glen Mervyn House until she is housed and financially secure, and all child protection issues have been addressed.
To this end, support workers work with the whole family, including Marnie’s partner, the father of her baby. Marnie reconnected with her mother and said they had a good equal relationship, “as mother and mother, not as mother and daughter.”
Ms Smith said the young women who come to Glen Mervyn House have different backgrounds, but many of them are wards of the state living in residential out-of-home care.
“There are a lot of demands on the girls – we wake them up in the morning, they are required to tidy up themselves, learn to cook, attend education, attend case meetings. where they plan goals and also address child protection issues, ”Ms. Smith said.
“We say to all moms” this is a tough program, but it is to give you independent skills so that you can safely live in the community with your baby. We will push you, but only as far as we know you can go. “
The Glen Mervyn House was given to the Red Cross as a Christmas present by a local family in 1941, and it has been used for a variety of purposes. The Young Parents Program has been in existence since 1994 and was extended in 2010 after the closure of a daycare on the site.
Jade, who requested that her last name not be released, attended the awareness program 14 years ago when she had her first child.
Jade had used drugs, mostly ice cream, for five years and was able to quit on her own, only to find that her non-drug use disqualified her from many services.
Eventually, she got social housing and was referred to the Young Parents program for help.
Jade said her social workers did all they could to support her and that she “felt their genuine love and care,” but at the time, she felt they were accomplished women with very different life experiences from his. This created “brick walls” that prevented her from revealing what was going on in her life, which she now realizes was an abusive relationship.
Jade told the Red Cross this year that she should assume the presence of domestic violence and ensure that young people from disadvantaged and violent backgrounds are mentored by people with lived experience.
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