Driving to Independence
With a four-week-old son and no family support, 18-year-old Christina found herself in the overwhelming position of being homeless with a newborn baby and struggling to make ends meet.
21 May 2019
Fortunately, she was able to connect with St John of God Horizon House’s Young Mother and Baby Program which has provided stable accommodation and support for her and her son Zoran.
“Since living at Horizon House, I’ve learnt about cooking, improving my language skills, how to vote, and how to have a routine for myself and my baby," Christina said.
Now 20, Christina is one step closer to achieving independence after recently obtaining her driver’s licence, thanks to the support of the L2P Program at the Salvation Army.
VicRoads’ L2P – Learner Driver Mentor Program assists learner drivers who do not have access to a supervising driver or vehicle to gain the driving experience required to apply for a probationary licence.
Christina sought the support from Horizon House caregivers to source childcare during the 120 hours of driving practice required, while simultaneously obtaining her Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning at TAFE and recently completing her certificate in childcare studies – all in her second language.
For Christina, obtaining her driver’s licence was not only a ‘rite of passage’, but gave her the freedom and confidence to pursue employment and social opportunities.
“I can now go anywhere I want and save so much time because I don’t have to plan to catch the bus,” Christina said.
“It is now easier for me to get a job because I have a car and licence.”
Christina credits the staff at Horizon House for helping her get back on her feet and moving towards becoming independent.
“The staff at the Young Mother and Baby Program feel like family. All the staff are very supportive and I can ask them anything without fear of judgement,” Christina said.
“The program has provided me with a home, healthy food and companionship, and has especially helped me with raising Zoran and helping me to be the best mum possible.”
Young Mother and Baby Program Support Coordinator Linda Robertson said it was rewarding to see Christina thrive as a mother and as an independent young person.
“I am proud of Christina and our young people who have been able to overcome adversity, set goals for themselves and achieve them,” Linda said.
“It’s a privilege to be able to give young mothers and their babies a positive start to life.”
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