Steph is an Aboriginal mum who was fairly silent and non-verbal much of the time. She had a traumatic background growing up in high-rise flats, with drug- and alcohol-affected parents, and she was witness to, and the victim of, much violence and addiction. As a young homeless woman who had nowhere to take her baby when leaving the hospital, the PIF Lighthouse home at Heathmont was a beacon of hope for her. Life as a young teenage mum wasn’t easy. Steph found herself frustrated and angry. She was frequently abusive to her carer, and it was hard yakka trying to build an attachment with her baby, Jasper, whose crying was relentless. Her carer, Barb, recalls sitting outside, rocking Jasper endlessly, trying to comfort him. Over time, and with patient help, Steph managed to get into routines with her baby and feel more confident as a parent.

Steph is an Aboriginal mum who was fairly silent and non-verbal much of the time. She had a traumatic background growing up in high-rise flats, with drug- and alcohol-affected parents, and she was witness to, and the victim of, much violence and addiction.

As a young homeless woman who had nowhere to take her baby when leaving the hospital, the PIF Lighthouse home at Heathmont was a beacon of hope for her. Life as a young teenage mum wasn’t easy. Steph found herself frustrated and angry. She was frequently abusive to her carer, and it was hard yakka trying to build an attachment with her baby, Jasper, whose crying was relentless. Her carer, Barb, recalls sitting outside, rocking Jasper endlessly, trying to comfort him. Over time, and with patient help, Steph managed to get into routines with her baby and feel more confident as a parent.

Steph always wanted to be a paramedic and she and Barb watched TV shows about paramedics together. It seemed a distant dream at the time. But Barb believed in her and helped her set herself up to volunteer at events for St John’s Ambulance a few times, including at the tennis.

Steph left the home about four years ago but recently revisited. She wanted to let us know that she had finally achieved her dream of becoming a paramedic. She had just come off her first official shift and went straight to tell her old carers and proudly show off her paramedic uniform. She is happily in the same stable relationship that formed towards the end of her Lighthouse time, and she and her partner have just put a deposit on their own home.

As Barb has now retired, Steph left a note for her. She wanted to acknowledge and thank Barb for putting up with her, and for keeping her together with Jasper in those early days, when it was all too hard.