When Shyanne looks back on her 18 years of life living in state care, she beams with a smile and talks excitedly about the future knowing the road ahead is hers to shape.
With the support of AnglicareSA, which came into her life in recent years, Shyanne has recently moved into a brand-new apartment and is enjoying a flourishing career in event management.
“I look back at my life a year ago to now, or five years ago until now, and no way would I think I could be here,” Shyanne says. “I wouldn’t think I’d be working yet and now I’ve already been promoted and I’m looking at getting team leadership contracts.
“I am working for a company that does expos, conventions, and festivals around Adelaide, so I’ve worked on things like Illuminate and the Adelaide 500, plus I’m always at the Showground, the Convention Centre, tennis, and cricket.
“It is the best thing I could have ever done. It’s a company that I didn’t know about. I mean I had no clue this is something you could do and it’s fantastic – I love this job so much.”
It’s a big shift away from her start to life when, along with her twin brother, Shyanne was placed into foster care at five months of age. This was the beginning of a long journey of placement breakdowns, frequent house moves, and fractured family relationships.
They stayed with their foster mum until they were 12 and, despite the placement breakdown, Shyanne still calls her mum and maintains a close relationship.
“My brother and I did the maths one day because we were together most of the time,” Shyanne recalls. “I think, before we stopped living together because it just wasn’t working anymore, we did about 20 different placements including biological sisters and residential care.”
Shyanne was referred to AnglicareSA’s Launch 180 program – a service for young people aged 16 to 18 under the Guardianship of the Minister which provides 24/7 support in independent accommodation.
It was here she found a connection with her support workers, in particular Danni and Shane.
“It was just a constant of someone being there. Someone knowing what’s going on because most of the time I would just talk to them about the everyday things I was doing,” Shyanne says.
“I could ask Danni, who is a mum herself, anything and she’d have the answer to it. A lot of kids don’t have any kind of parent, but I still have my foster mum plus Danni who was great for that kind of stuff – the questions that you think mum would know.”
Also learning essential life skills including budgeting and how to keep a clean home, it set Shyanne up for the next stage of her life as she neared 18 and faced the need to find permanent accommodation.
In South Australia, from the age of 18, young people leaving out-of-home care independently will often exit the child protection system into adulthood without the emotional and financial support of family and state.
The Post Care Pathways (PCP) program, run by AnglicareSA and Believe Housing Australia, provides subsidised housing through self-contained, one-bedroom apartments in Adelaide’s inner south-west for young people leaving care from age 18 to 25.
“I thought I’d just private rent and find something else and then obviously I couldn’t because there’s a housing crisis and I can’t afford a private rental.
“And then they offered me a place through PCP back in February, and it was amazing.
“It’s close to the city, close to my mum, close to my work, there’s shopping, coffee, and food – everything really.”
Such was the personal growth in Shyanne in recent years, she proved to be a model tenant at PCP, keeping her unit clean and tidy and continuing to develop as a working young adult.
It meant when an apartment through an $11 million Believe Housing Australia social and affordable housing development became available in July, AnglicareSA helped her secure the rental, set up utilities at her new home, helped her move in, and to this day remains in touch.
Shyanne has nothing but praise for the support she has been given, knowing that anything is possible for her now as she acknowledges her past while taking full control of her future.
“I know, as someone who’s in the system, it’s hard to want to do stuff with departments because there’s often a lot of traumas. You say ‘no, I want nothing to do with them’.
“But I think this is something that kids in care should reach out for, or at least know about, because I didn’t know about it until someone brought it up with me.”
Post Care Services Supervisor, Ida Mandelos, says Shyanne’s journey has had its share of ups and downs, but every step brought her growth and awesome achievements.
“It’s rewarding to see our young people succeed, smile, and be hopeful for what’s ahead,” she says. “Hearing Shyanne talk so fondly about our team and the staff support makes me incredibly proud. This is just the start for her and all the other young people we get to work with.”
Growing up is a challenge for everyone, but increasingly it is more difficult for young South Australians leaving careAnglicareSA Executive General Manager of Community Services Nancy Penna
AnglicareSA Executive General Manager of Community Services Nancy Penna says the PCP program has so far provided 23 young people leaving care immediate access to housing that is safe, affordable, and appropriate during challenging economic and social times.
“The aim of the PCP program is to also provide individual support focussed on health, well-being, life skills, engagement in education, employment, and social inclusion to help guide those first, vital and formative steps into adulthood,” she says.
Ms Penna says some of the program’s young tenants, like Shyanne, have transitioned into private rental and social housing and almost all supported by the program are engaged in education and training or are employed.
“Growing up is a challenge for everyone, but increasingly it is more difficult for young South Australians leaving care,” Ms Penna says.
“Without the same family support networks, our young care leavers are more vulnerable to ending up in crisis, including homelessness, as they enter adulthood alone,” she says.