Josh’s Story of Hope After Homelessness

Josh* spent time as a Beds for Change participant in 2020. Beds for Change was a supported transitional accommodation service for people experiencing homelessness in Perth, which was provided by Uniting WA during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He shares his story here.

I was born in Ryde Hospital in Sydney and spent the first 2 years of my life there before my family moved to South Australia. I spent my childhood living in regional towns around South Australia.

I was an only child; my mother was an alcoholic. I had to look after her a lot. Since the age of 10, I used to have to nurse her outside the pub at two in the morning. A lot of the time I was on the street, drinking at a very young age. I wasn’t really socialising with good people and I was taken advantage of a lot when I was young.

Mum was a single Mum. She was very manipulative, and she skewed my train of thought. My childhood wasn’t good and as a result, I don’t put up with anything these days.

When I got a bit older, I moved to Queensland for about four years. I got into drugs and had issues there with methamphetamine for a while.  That wasn’t good so I left there and went to the Northern Territory. I still had drug issues there, but it wasn’t as bad. 

Then I went back to South Australia and I had alcohol issues. Then I moved again and that kind of sorted me out.  I don’t drink nowhere near as much; I don’t touch drugs anymore.

I think that’s got a lot to do with my grandparents being really supportive. I reconnected with them in early 2020 and I started sharing things with them.  They helped me gain more self-confidence – that was the main reason I used drugs and alcohol.  There’s always a root cause of why you go back to them, and they helped me find the root cause and deal with it.

There weren’t many people who gave me the mindset that I was any good, my mother made me think that I was like her and made me believe that I was worthless, that I couldn’t do anything about it. But my grandparents taught me that I can really do anything, and I stopped taking drugs and drinking.  They were hard on me, but I needed it. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

I was 27 years old when I came over to WA thinking that I had a legitimate job in the south west, turned out it wasn’t. He wanted to pay me in cash. I had a letter of offer saying that I had a job, but he kept avoiding putting me on the books, so I ended up leaving after three months. That’s how I ended up being homeless in Perth.

I decided to be honest with Centrelink about my situation and they said OK, and arranged for me to get Newstart payments.  I also had a bit of money saved which helped. I didn’t know anyone in Perth, but I thought my probability of getting ahead with housing and work would be a lot better in Perth than it would be down south.

That was the first time I went to Tranby.  I came into Tranby and let them know what was happening. They gave me some advice and were really supportive. I was in survival mode and just spent the bare minimum I needed to get by.  I was looking for jobs as well, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was homeless. Every time I applied for a job, I used Tranby as my address and I never got any callbacks from anyone because they would figure out I was homeless.

I spoke to the team and Tranby and they told me I could apply for Beds for Change and they helped me get through all of that. I got a place at Beds for Change, re-did my CV and asked them if I could use that as my residential address.  They agreed and two days later, I had a job.

Beds for Change provided me with a place to stay and housed me while I started working.  It allowed me the time to save up money so I could then get a share house.  I would also go to Tranby so I could use the computers and the internet for work stuff.

I started doing factory work and then decided I wanted to go to the mines.  I started off doing shutdowns but am working towards full-time work now. My employer is really, really good, I did three of four shutdowns with them and then they offered me a probationary period for a permanent job, which I’m doing now.  I work two weeks on, two weeks off and I really like it.

I’m living in Midland at the moment but am looking to move closer to the airport and the city soon. I like Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing, so I’m looking forward to being able to do a class. I’m in a share house with one other guy but I’d rather have my own house.  I’m a pretty quiet person, I don’t talk to too many people.  I’m looking for a one-bedroom unit so I can have space and come home to my own things.

Beds for Change was awesome, it’s a program that should be done more often because it really helps people.  The service was more personal, instead of having a format where ‘this is how it runs’, it adjusts person to person and understands that everyone’s circumstances are completely different. Instead of just having one program and one model where you’re only going to get a percentage of people who will be able to make it through that model, Beds for Change is more flexible, which it should be – because that’s how life is.

My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to think back to all the things you’ve done well in your life and remember that you can do it again.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy