Impact Report 2022—2023

Tayla’s Story – How EPP helped her daughter find her words

Woman with two young children smiling towards the camera.

For the confidentiality of the family involved, all names and some details have been changed for this story.

When Tayla and her five children first experienced homelessness, they couldn’t carry much with them as they moved from state to state, trying to find a safe place to live after fleeing family violence. 

That’s when she noticed her children clinging to soft toys in local op shops, asking if they could take them home. 

“It was special to them, just having that one thing as a constant. Even if we were changing different places we were staying, I could think, at least they’ve got those teddies.” 

Tayla, a First Nations woman, was heavily pregnant and fearful of how her family would find somewhere safe to live. She was also gravely aware of the impact the last few years had on her children, being around family violence and moving constantly.  

“It was just chaos, I was not only worried about being homeless but losing the baby,” Tayla says. 

While staying in emergency housing in a different state, Tayla and her children set their sights on Melbourne for a fresh start, far from the people inflicting abuse in their lives.  

She was worried about the impact on her children and their education, who at this point had been in several different schools. Then there was the trauma they were subject to being around family violence.  

With just a few suitcases, teddy bears, and a little bit of money Tayla had saved, the family landed in Melbourne. 

That’s when she found Launch Housing online and came to our Collingwood emergency access point.  

Launch Housing started engaging with Tayla and her kids right away, subsidising their hotel costs while searching for supported accommodation for the family.  

Connecting with the Education Pathways Program

Launch Housing’s Education Pathways Program (EPP) supports regular school attendance, and the wellbeing of children experiencing homelessness and family violence – seeking to break the cycle of disadvantage for children.  

The EPP team got the kids ready and settled into their new school – organising enrolments, uniforms, and transport, allowing Tayla to take a breath and focus on her pregnancy. 

Our staff work closely with schools to increase understanding of the issues of homelessness and family and domestic violence, and how these impact children’s learning. This ensures that educators feel well prepared to support these children through implementing a trauma informed environment.   

Staff also worked closely with Tayla, providing hands-on practical support and helping to establish good relationships between herself and the school. 

Social activities are a big part of the program, and Tayla’s children got stuck in right away – while they were in temporary accommodation in the city. 

“They’d send out a taxi to pick everyone up, go and have fun, have a barbecue, stuff like that. [The staff] would do anything, they’d help the kids get more clothes for school, they’d communicate with all the schools to help with enrollments, pay for camps the kids wanted to do, anything,” Tayla says. 

The family were at the birthday party of another child in the program when Tayla got the call – there was an opening at Viv’s Place, Launch Housing’s purpose-built long-term housing block, with services on site for families who have experienced family violence. Tayla and her family moved into one of the studio apartments which Launch Housing has allocated for First Nation’s families. 

“I was sitting there crying, and the other mothers were looking at me like, “is she okay?” and I explained, and they were all really happy for us,” Tayla remembers. 

Specialised care for children who’ve experienced trauma

Following the success of EPP, Launch Housing expanded the program to Viv’s Place last year, providing place-based services.  

Tayla’s kids were supported by a psychologist through EPP to navigate the trauma and disruption they’d experienced over the last few years.  

“It was amazing, to be able to access that. Play Therapy was helpful for the girls too,” Tayla says.  

Her daughter, Ninah, 11 has selective mutism, something that began when she was younger and flared up during their period relocating.  Staff connected her with a speech therapist so she could build her confidence. 

Within months, so much changed for Ninah, and Tayla says it blew everyone away. 

“We saw a lot of improvement when we settled at Viv’s – she was also working with the EPP homework club – she was reading to some of the staff.” Tayla says. 

EPP coordinator at Viv’s Place, Juliana, says out of all the many EPP activities, homework club is the most popular among the kids.  

“As with anything, when the family has so much trauma, finding a house is not what’s going to fix everything else,” Juliana explains. 

“That’s when the second layer of support comes into place with EPP. We get them well connected and build a strong relationship with school.”  

Other favorite EPP activities Tayla’s kids enjoyed were the breakfast club and walking school bus to the local school – establishing solid routines for them after so many years of disruption.  

While her children still have a way to go on their healing journey, Tayla says her children have become calmer, more settled. 

“Their sleep routines are a big part of it now, they’re sleeping a lot better, unlike before” Tayla says. 

“Ninah’s getting a lot better now – she’s got two friends at school, and she talks sometimes to the teachers aid” Tayla says. 

The Education Pathways Program helped Ninah regain the confidence to speak and supported the family, along with over 130 other children, to settle and thrive at school last year. Entirely philanthropically funded, this generosity breaks the cycle of homelessness and disadvantage. 

Tayla’s story not only highlights the impact secure housing can have on a family, but how tailored support can help to address educational gaps and school readiness for vulnerable children.    

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