As a young adult, Wendy was passionate about human rights. She was community minded and loved to travel. She volunteered abroad for community aid projects in Cambodia and Vietnam funding her trips back home working as a professional doing administrative work.
Wendy married a successful South Australian businessman and ended up moving to Adelaide from her Bayside home where she grew up. When Wendy was 50, she had a devastating diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Being fit and health conscious, Wendy was shocked at first and in denial of her diagnosis. Her marriage went downhill from there and she experienced domestic violence at the hands of her husband.
At 54 years of age, Wendy’s life was in danger and she made the decision to flee from her husband. She drove through country SA over a number of months and made her way back to her bayside suburb of Melbourne, a place she felt familiar with even though her family had moved interstate.
She managed to find work and a share house to live in. She was getting back on her feet. Then she was sexually assaulted by a co-tenant who she was sharing the house with. For Wendy, this triggered memories of family violence and the trauma of her escape and she found herself fleeing the property and wandering the streets with nowhere to go. With her mental health in decline and homeless, Wendy found herself sleeping rough in a tunnel in an inner suburb. The tunnel was in a very private and secluded area. She had never felt so safe as she did there.
In June when it became too cold to sleep out, Wendy made her way to Launch Housing where they found her a place in a womans only rooming house. AccessCare’s Community Connections Program Case Manager, Mardi Beaumont, was on an outreach visit to the rooming house when she first met Wendy. Mardi connected Wendy with the local community health centre for counselling and health services which Wendy said had saved her life. Mardi also assisted Wendy to apply for public housing.
A few months later, the Office of Housing contacted Wendy with the great news. They had found permanent accommodation for her in an older person’s estate near the city. A spacious, one bedroom unit that was wheel-chair accessible, for when Wendy’s MS progressed to the point where she will be unable to walk. Mardi was able to allocate some funds to buy Wendy a fridge and pay for removals so she could move to her own place the following week.
Wendy was delighted at being found accommodation but there were mixed emotions. Her MS symptoms had started to show by this stage and she knew her physical health was in decline. She started to take her MS medication to manage her symptoms but she could no longer work. She can still exercise though and is still able to go for daily walks. She continues to manage her health the best she can and is still having regular counselling to come to terms with her illness.
I can’t thank Mardi enough for her support and for helping me move into my unit and furnish it.
If you or someone you know is at risk of homelessness, please call AccessCare on 1300 819 200 or visit AccessCare's Community Connection program for more information on the support available.
Please note: Some details in this story including names, have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual and prevent them being identified through this story.