- Case Studies
- Cassandra's Story
Cassandra was just three months old when she was left on a doorstep. Her father had overdosed on drugs and her mother could see no other way out.
She experienced 23 foster homes and 14 schools. At age 13 she was living on the street and barely getting by.
She could have ended up like so many homeless young people – on drugs, in jail or worse - but for a chance encounter with another homeless person who suggested they get free food from a yourtown lunch program. Cassandra had her first contact with yourtown and began to hope.
yourtown helped Cassandra access accommodation, counselling, education and financial support. She worked in a kitchen and did part-time work at yourtown while receiving tool training, a welding certificate and White Card. Cassandra was supported by a number of yourtown programs funded by State and Federal Governments. These included Job Services Australia, the Working for Australian Youth Strategy, Get Set for Work and Work for the Dole.
Cassandra worked as a security guard from 18 to 22 years of age, but decided she wanted to work with people. She asked yourtown Job Services for help and was offered an Indigenous Traineeship working as the receptionist at yourtown's Youth Connections site.
There, she met Youth Worker Carla Harvey, who became Cassandra's mentor. Carla helped Cassandra create a five year plan to achieve her goals. As the Youth Connections receptionist, Cassandra helped Youth Workers set up engagement activities for clients – and was inspired herself.
"I pretty much watched the workers and thought, ‘That's what I want to do.’ I went to Carla and said, ‘I want to be a youth worker.” She told me I could do and be whatever I want. She gave me that big talk that no one in my life had ever given me.”
By age 23, Cassandra had completed not only her Business Traineeship but also TAFE accredited Youth Worker training and was soon appointed to her desired position.
After three years with that program, in April 2014, Cassandra became an Indigenous Mentor with yourtown's Indigenous Youth Careers Pathway program. Funded by the Federal Government, the program aims to inspire and support Indigenous students to complete their schooling and make an effective transition to further education or work.
According to Cassandra, her past offers her a unique understanding of what young people may be experiencing.
"That's where I'm lucky because I am able to relate to not just one thing with a client but nearly every single thing that anyone's ever brought up. I've usually experienced something very similar.”
Cassandra’s success would not be possible without her own perseverance, dedicated yourtown staff, and many generous financial gifts from yourtown supporters like you.