My story is not a typical story of poverty or unemployment. I am from a university educated, high socio-economic background. I guess if anything, my story shows this can happen to anyone.
In April 2013 I was house sharing with a friend to divide our costs and our house lease was coming to an end. We were both long term unemployed despite university educations and over three decades of experience each. Me in health and law, the other person in accounting. We were both divorced with grown up children.
Prior to this I had private rental in Hobart seeking work in a larger city, while again living (existing) on the Newstart allowance. At that time in my desperation, I spoke with the Salvation Army counsellor in Newtown. She listened which was nice, but my situation was not typical of homelessness, drug use or mental health issues.
I’m a 60 y/o grandmother who is facing bankruptcy after having spent 20 years sole-parenting.
My story begins with me, through poverty, having to represent myself in the Family Court. This awful experience dragged on for almost three years, leaving me with PTSD. It also caused me to drop out of university, lose relationship with two of my children and become welfare-dependent.
The Child Support Agency compounded my difficulties by allowing the fathers of my children to “play the system”, thus escaping their financial responsibilities. At one stage this resulted in me having to stretch $20 to cover the daily needs of myself and four children, three of whom were teenagers. When Vinnie’s was approached for a food voucher, I felt ashamed. My children suffered shame on a daily basis.