Impact Report 2022—2023

Jakub’s Story – There for him when no one else was

Jakub is a familiar face at Launch Housing’s Southbank site, having called it home for the last year and a half.  

The journey out of homelessness is not always linear. Many of our clients with complex health issues access our services multiple times, or require longer support to access and sustain housing. But even Jakub’s story is unique. 

Too sick to work, ineligible for Centrelink or public housing, and without any income Jakub can’t access most emergency housing.  

Jakub’s journey began 11 years ago, when he arrived in Australia to work from Poland – but he was quickly taken advantage of by his employer.  

“I was living in the garage of his property, sleeping next to all the equipment. Working six long days a week.”  

While he started on a reasonable salary as a laborer, Jakub’s hourly rate was quickly reduced to well under the minimum wage. Language barriers made it hard for Jakub to build support networks and find help during this time. 

After ten long years living in the garage, things came to a tipping point and Jakub left. But he had nowhere to go, little money and even fewer possessions.  

After going to his nearest local council office, he was connected with Launch Housing’s Rough Sleepers Initiative, and referred to our Southbank site.  

“It was difficult when I arrived. I had my laptop, few clothes, no food. I was hungry and tired.” Jakub recalls. 

From living in a garage to having his own space

At Southbank, people experiencing homelessness are housed with support for 8-10 weeks while they’re supported to get back on their feet.     

There will always be a need for short-term accommodation for those in crisis situations. Places like Southbank give people the time to breathe.  

Launch Housing staff helped Jakub settle in, first with wellbeing support, and case management to help find him permanent housing. Southbank also has nursing staff on site, something that is entirely funded by philanthropy. 

While looking ahead for accommodation options for Jakub, staff quickly realised his lack of legal status here made finding alternative accommodation difficult. So, we supported him to look at returning to Poland. 

That was until Jakub found out he had lung cancer, and he was quickly admitted to hospital for treatment. 

“During those three weeks, [Launch Housing] staff would come visit me. They’d bring me food and sweets to make me feel better, not forgotten,” he says.  

Realising that he would soon be discharged from hospital, and his housing options as scarce as before, an exception was made to house Jakub at our Southbank crisis accommodation site long term while his cancer treatment continued.  

While Jakub was undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Launch Housing turned his room into a hospital-grade environment. This included cytotoxic waste disposal services, cleaning teams on standby if Jakub fell ill, and keeping the rest of the communal areas safe and sterile for everyone. 

Painting as a universal language

“When I was in hospital, [Southbank staff] remembered I like to paint, and so they brought into hospital some paints and colouring books so I could pass time focusing on my art.” Jakub remembers. 

Some of that art now hangs in the Alfred hospital, which he gifted to the doctors and nurses during his treatment. A big grin goes across Jakub’s face when he recalls – he’s a man proud of his work. 

Back at his room in Southbank, he’s spent hours, days even, filling his room with drawings. Sitting at his desk, he zones into the paper in front of him to create his latest piece.  

There are several social group activities at Southbank to support our residents’ well-being. With Jakub’s language barrier, it can be a bit difficult to attend, but he says he’s really connected with the art therapist that visits weekly. It’s through art that he feels connected to people. 

“When it comes to drawing, I can express myself without words.” Jakub explains. 

Supporting Jakub’s recovery and future steps

Now months on from his initial treatment, while still very unwell, Jakub is in good spirits.  

“The cancer is not better; it just gets worse. But this, living here, is better.” 

At Southbank, our staff have helped Jakub link up with translators, legal advisors to support his case against his former employer, and migration community organisations to help Jakub move forward in his journey.  

“Everyone here treats me very humanely, I’m respected here.” he says, with a grin. 

He’s working through a bridging visa process, hopeful his treatment will help him to be able to start work again and find his forever home.  

Southbank site manager, Yassin, says Jakub’s an exceptional man.  

“The diagnosis, the chemo, the fact that he stayed positive and stayed happy and is still smiling through all of that, I think is miraculous. He hasn’t been impacted negatively by everything that’s happened.” 

Jakub’s story shows us how important it is to have housing, health care and support in one’s journey out of homelessness. While Jakub still does not have a home to call his own, he says he is glad and grateful that he’s been able to call Southbank home in the time being.  

*Jakub’s name has been changed for confidentiality 

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