Changing Lives

Since opening its doors some 40 years ago, Caretakers Cottage has helped over thousands of kids and their families to live and build a better future. We believe the best way to understand what we do and why we need your support is to hear from the young people themselves, their families and agency workers who helped them get in contact with Caretakers...

I can’t believe we first met almost 19 years ago. I am suddenly feeling very old. That cute 13 year old with her Nike and Adidas clothing and teddy bears... Tonight I was looking through my wedding photos and though of you and Julie. To think you were the only family with me, it made me smile. I still have a photo framed with you guys on my lounge room wall.

Thank you for still being in my life all these years later. You have been there through the lows and highs. You never abandoned me, even when I was at my worst. I have never known anyone to be as passionate, patient and caring as you are. You really are amazing. Never forget it.
— Vanessa
Thank you for everything that you guys had done for me, I want to thank my caseworker Brodie, he had helped me through a lot of things, with job, my family and to put my life back on track.

Today it’s time for me to leave from here and try my best to speak to my mum so I can get back home with my family. I feel really sad that I have to move out, I’m going to miss that place, area and especially all the new and kind people that came in my life, and also I’m definitely going to miss Brodie’s dog!!
— Ryan*
I couldn’t have asked for a better caseworker, you’re my role model and I’ll always look up to. Because of you, I am a better, healthier, happier person than I was before coming to Caretakers.

Thank you for being understanding and always being there for me when I needed to let things off my chest and listening to me, no matter what I had to say.
— Katie*
If I ever have to go to a refuge again, I would definitely pick you guys.
— Chelsea*
I have struggled with a severe drug problem this year and was isolated from my family. They had kicked me out of home 3 years ago and I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. I started couch surfing and spending time at crisis refuges and stuff to survive. Refuges in the past hadn’t really helped because I was using drugs and fighting and kept getting kicked out.

Caretakers helped me by giving me somewhere to stay, getting back to school and basically helped me live without drugs. They have taken me to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and helped me see mental health people.

Caretakers have given me a safe place to live and helped me to not go back where I came from. I have started medication that has helped me feel less angry. It feels good to be here and it feels like home.
— Sally*
Without you guys, I may have never fully recovered from my experience in hospital and may not be alive today to share my story and help others who have been in similar situations.

No matter how big or small you think you may have contributed, know that you guys have changed my life for the better and I will be forever grateful for that.
— Vincent
Horizon is the only service who made it possible for me to become an Australian Citizen. At every refuge, each worker I was assigned to try to help me gain my citizenship, but all failed. Jenny from Horizon was the only one to see it through. If it was not for her, my citizenship would not have been granted and I would not be able to gain any identification or driver’s license. Citizenship for me is not just a piece of paper, it is my gateway to opportunity and to improve myself. My citizenship ceremony was held on Australia Day and it meant the world to me that both Jenny and my Foster Mum attended.

I always had aspirations of becoming a chef, but until I met my Horizon case manager, I never believed it was possible. She introduced me to adult education where (in my school holiday break) I did three short courses in Barista Skills, RSA and RCG. I loved attending each course and wanted to continue to attending adult education. So, at the beginning of Year 11, I chose to leave school and I enrolled in a Certificate II in Commercial Cookery. Within 8 months, I finished that course and I gained a full time chef apprenticeship.
— Eunice
At my time at Caretakers, the biggest assistance for me and for many other kids was learning to let go, to accept the fact that we could not move back home and we would have to learn to move forward.

The staff inspired me to finally feel like I was worth something, and that constant feeling of worthlessness changed to one of content. This is what inspired me to get a job and learn to save money. But most importantly, I learned to examine my choices and try to make good decisions.
— Chris

A Word from Families and Agencies

It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, driving my daughter to refuge because her behaviour was so bad that she couldn’t live at home. In saying that, when I got to Caretakers in Bondi I was so impressed to see that the house was so clean and the staff were so understanding, caring and kind that it made the situation more bearable.

I believe that Caretakers and all the staff involved certainly made a big difference to my daughter and our family. We still have a way to go but she’s been home since she left Caretakers…. I think she realized that living by rules are important wherever she resides and that her family home isn’t such a bad place after all!

I found that everybody at Caretakers understood both sides of the family issues and we didn’t feel judged at all.

I would like to thank Laurie, Dee and all the helpers that were involved in our time there.
— Mother
I am 100% impressed with this service, the caseworkers were amazing and extremely supportive!
— Aunt
I hope these flowers go some way to expressing my sincere thanks at looking after my son with such compassion and integrity, you have truly changed his world for the better…
— Mother
Just a quick note to let you know how things have progressed... After Nick* came home he continued with his year 12 and obtained his HSC. Yesterday he started a Diploma in Community services and is still working part time. He is still a teenager so things aren’t perfect of course but he has been free of illicit substances for seven months by his own choice. He is getting comfortable in his own skin. He hangs out with good people. He is happy to be at home.

Sometimes I look back on the last three years and wonder how we got through it as a family. We certainly wouldn’t have without people like you and the PALM program. It makes me understand how much influence these programs had on him as he has such a drive to try and find work that will allow him to try and help others.

You should be very proud of the work that you do as it really does have an impact on the young people that you come into contact with.
— Mother
There was really nothing else available for my client anywhere in our area…. We have no idea what we would have done if Caretakers would have taken her as no other organisation was willing to accept her. I was blown away by the level of support.

Thanks for being so flexible in dealing with the client…. Going out of the way to accept the client, flexibility for taking someone who was slipping through the gaps. It was an amazing outcome, it would not have happened without Caretakers.
— Social Worker
Caretakers is an amazing start for young people with problems. Great team with excellent visions. Well done!!!

The manager & all staff had been very supportive and gone out of their way to accommodate this young homeless person regardless of her complex multiple medical issues and social issues. Amazing & brilliant staff!

There are many young homeless people out there with multiple issues that would greatly benefit from places like Caretakers.
— Social Worker