Rooted in Culture

12 September 2023

ROOTED IN CULTURE

Family, culture, and identity.

These three values lie at the very heart of the Mauheni-Edwards family – and are what have helped Aroha and her husband Huey connect with the 17-year-old young man who recently came into their care.

A Māori woman originally from the east coast and northern tribes of New Zealand, Aroha now lives on Kangaroo Island with her family.

For Aroha, connection to place has always been an important part of her identity – and it is something she and Huey have tried to keep alive for their children.

“When we first moved here in 2007, I was eight and a half months pregnant,” Aroha said. “We made a promise to each other that if we were to stay, we would return back home every two years for the children, so they knew where they were from.”

When Aroha and Huey were approached to take on the care of their son’s friend – a 17-year-old Aboriginal young man – things seemed to just fall into place.

“My son Kaea knew him from school – they were already good mates. Kaea really just wanted to support him,” Aroha said. “So, when DCP asked us, we sort of just went from there. He was already part of the family, but now it wasn’t just for the weekends.”

The concept of raising a child with no blood connection is not a new one to Aroha. In fact, the idea of a ‘whāngai’ has deep roots in Māori culture.

“In our culture, we have a similar system, but it’s not seen as a system – and it’s called a whāngai,” she said.

"A whāngai is someone who is loved by someone who is not their (biological) parent,”

“My husband Huey was a whāngai, and my eldest son is a whāngai to my parents. They brought him up for five years.”

Having witnessed the strength of whāngai first-hand, Aroha believes it is important to provide her family, including whāngai, a strong connection to identity – and for them to understand their roots.

For the young man in her care, this meant bringing him back to Country.

“When he started living here, we asked him where are his roots? Where are his rivers, where are his oceans? We told him we would take him home, and we did.” she said. “It was important for us that he return back, just as it’s important to return our kids back home.”

Although the young man has now been reunified with family, Aroha still cherishes the individual moments they spent together as family.

“Table talk over dinner is huge. We talk about our highlights and our fails. The first couple of dinners, he’d say ‘I don’t have a highlight.’ Now, when we ask him, he’ll talk for the whole dinner,” she recalls. “I love just seeing him communicate confidently and all those normal daily things that he now loves doing with us.”

However, she was most proud of the fact that he could eventually laugh with no reservations – as loudly and robustly as the rest of the family.

“I’m happy to say, he now laughs from the bottom of his belly. Head back, eyes closed, watering,” she said. “That’s what I love.”

If you are interested in becoming a Foster Carer, visit our Foster Care page.

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In House and Home

7 April 2023

IN HOUSE AND HOME

Facing homelessness during the height of a global pandemic wasn’t something that Reece, a long-term private-renter from the Fleurieu Peninsula, ever expected to happen to his young family.

As housing prices sky-rocketed during COVID, the single father and his two boys, now aged 7 and 9, were forced to move from their family home when the landlord decided to sell.

“Before COVID, I was paying $250 a week in rent. That home is now $450 a week. We just couldn’t afford it,” Reece said.

After applying for over 160 private rentals with no success, Reece started reaching out to services for support.

“I was telling everyone – ‘I have two kids and I’m about to be homeless’,” Reece said. “I was applying for everything, from the Fleurieu all the way down to Marion.”

In June 2022, with nowhere else to go, the young family found themselves sleeping in a caravan. They spent the next several months living day-to-day with no fixed address.

“We were moving every few days. Sometimes we were in a cabin or motel – that sent me broke. Other times we were in a carpark,” Reece said. “We stayed in a caravan on the side of the road for a while. We had to notify the council and put a ‘temporary’ sign up.

“It became so stressful. I found myself drinking a lot, which led to me losing my license.”

Despite these many setbacks, Reece managed to keep his boys in school the entire time.

“The boy’s schooling came first – they never missed a day,” Reece said.

“We spent lots of time outdoors – they love going to the skatepark, they love their sports – anything we could do for free.”

After connecting with Junction, the young family finally found some relief and moved into their new home right before Christmas.

Utilising services and donations, including a couch found on the side of the road, they began to re-build their lives.

“The boys now play football at their local club. I love watching them. They want to get into basketball next – They have lots of energy to burn,” he said.

“We’ve become good friends with the neighbours, they have kids the same age. They play together, have sleepovers – they have even been boating.”

Reece soon found part-time shiftwork as a cook, before settling into a gardening and landscaping job, matching his skillset perfectly. He has also been volunteering at the local Neighbourhood Centre’s Repair Café.

Now, a year on, the young family is thriving and looking to the future. They hope to build a greenhouse and chicken coop in their backyard and have plans to try new activities, including archery.

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For Them

3 April 2023

FOR THEM

For Murray Bridge resident Shohan, becoming a carer had always been in the cards. Growing up in a tight-knit family, she quickly developed a natural affinity with children.

“Even as a child myself, I was always offering to take care of the other kids in my family. My mum said I started doing it when I was only three,” she said. “As I grew older and my friends started having children, I would also offer to take care of them.”

Shohan, who has a 19-year-old biological son, opened her heart to a little girl after meeting her through work.

“I was a SSO (Student Services Officer) at a primary school and the principal there had short-term care of a young girl. At nine months old, she was so tiny, she couldn’t even hold her own bottle,” she said. “When they struggled to find her another home, it just broke my heart. So, I decided I’d do it.”

After undergoing the appropriate processes, Shohan took on the young girl’s care.

“It happened so quickly but I knew she needed a home, so I didn’t mind,” she said.

“She is the most beautiful little girl. My whole life has changed.”

Three years on, Shohan now also cares for the little girl’s sibling – a one-year-old boy. Supported by Junction, her family and community, Shohan has enjoyed every moment of her journey.

“I have never once regretted it. There are challenges for sure. Recognising they have trauma and dealing with the emotional side is always difficult,” she said. “But it’s been amazing seeing them grow, seeing them smile, hearing their laughter. Just knowing they’re happy and safe.”

Now three-years-old, the little girl has grown to become brighter and more curious than ever.

“When I first got her, they said she wouldn’t walk, wouldn’t talk, wouldn’t do anything. She has since proved all the doctors wrong,” Shohan said. “If she was left in the environment she could have been left in, she may not have hit her milestones.”

She hopes both children will grow to live their lives to the fullest.

“No child chooses to be born into a bad situation. I don’t want them to feel that they’re disprivileged because they were in foster care,” she said.

“At the end of the day, you’re doing it all for them.”

If you have ever thought about becoming a foster carer, visit our Foster Care page for more details and to get in touch:

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A New View for Veronica

19 April 2023

A NEW VIEW FOR VERONICA

Veronica in her garden.

Filling up a glass of fresh water or using the bathroom is something many of us do without thought. But for Veronica, who lives in the inner-south, this is something she will never take for granted.

Growing up in the Fleurieu, Veronica’s hardships began at an early age.

“I was without parental figures from the age of 9. My father passed away then, and I didn’t have anyone else,” Veronica said.

By her late teen years, Veronica was living in a run-down, mouldy caravan with no access to fresh water or bathroom facilities. Surrounded by an environment of violence and substance abuse, Veronica knew that this was not the life she wanted to live.

“I used to stress a lot about where I could go to the toilet next, wash my clothes, get fresh water or refrigerate food.”

Despite being homeless, Veronica persevered through Year 12 before seeking help through Junction’s Fleurieu Homelessness Service. In mid-2022, she moved into her own home for the first time.

“Now, I don’t have to worry about any of that,” she said. “Little things that used to stress me out just aren’t a problem anymore.”

Since settling into her new home, Veronica has been able to focus fully on her goals. An aspiring lawyer, she has since found employment and intends to get her first aid certificate and driver’s license before moving forward with any big plans.

“I’m currently just working on becoming financially stable. I’ve never had more than $100 to my name so I’m learning how to manage my bills. I’m learning little things like how to wash dishes because I’ve never had anyone to teach me that,” she said. “I’m learning day-to-day mundane things that other people take for granted.”

Although she has faced many challenges, Veronica attributes her optimism and work-ethic toward her close friend who passed away a few years ago.

“Only after their passing did I want to start living. Not for them, but because I know they wanted me to,” Veronica said. “I think that was the turning point that made me wake up and say ‘hey, I don’t want to live like this anymore’.”

Looking to the future, Veronica dreams of reconnecting with the earth and living sustainably on her own land.

“I am proud of myself but I am also excited to evolve more. I am trying to focus on the future rather than where I am right now,” she said.

“I know where I am right now isn’t where I want to be, but it is where I can begin to move on.”

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A First for Everything

12 April 2023

A FIRST FOR EVERYTHING

Anthony in his home.

For 24-year-old Anthony, a once distant goal of home ownership has recently become a reality.

Anthony, who works in insurance, had always seen himself breaking into the property market further down the line. However, when a two-bedroom apartment became available at Junction’s Camden Park development, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I’d thought about buying a home before, but not with any serious consideration. When I saw this opportunity, I thought it could be my best chance to get onto the property ladder.”

The $20 million Camden Park development – Junction’s largest to date – comprises 54 architecturally designed townhouses and apartments on Anzac Highway. Of those who purchased a home within the development, many were first homebuyers.

“As a first homebuyer, I did get a little bit overwhelmed once everything started to kick in,” Anthony said. “But everything was explained to me clearly. Over the course of the journey, I started to understand everything there was to buying a home.”

Having previously lived with his parents, Anthony is now enjoying his own space. This, along with the apartment’s modern design, reduced market rate and convenient location helped ‘seal the deal’ for Anthony.

“It’s located half-way between my parent’s home and where I work, with a tram line running from Glenelg to the city. It’s just very convenient,” he said.

Discovering an unexpected community of like-minded peers within the apartment block has also helped Anthony settle.

“They’ve all been super nice, and most are around my age which is really comforting considering the market at the moment,” he said. “I’ve already had nice notes passed in the letter boxes. It’s as much of a community as it could be.”

Also a musician, Anthony is currently converting his spare room into a personal music studio.

“Music has always been a massive part of my life so just having the space for it helps so much,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being creative in that home studio, and just sort of build my music career.”

“It’s a hobby right now, but I’m hoping that the dream can become reality.”

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Connecting Communities Awards 2023

26 March 2023

CONNECTING COMMUNITIES AWARDS 2023

In recognition of Neighbour Day (March 26th), we are excited to launch Junction’s inaugural Connecting Communities Awards – a way to recognise and celebrate our amazing community!

From checking in on elderly neighbours and delivering meals to those in need, to striving through disadvantage and creating positive change, we have heard it all! If you know someone who is a Junction tenant or program participant and deserves to be recognised, nominate them now for their chance to be recognised and win a prize in one of five categories.

To nominate, simply speak with our Community Engagement Team on 8275 8700 or email communityengagement@junctionaustralia.org.au and tell us why you think this person deserves to win.

The 5 categories are:

• Positive Influence (an individual who demonstrates acts of kindness and leads by example)

• Community Champion (a ‘changemaker’ who goes the extra mile to get involved and be the voice for their community)

• Outstanding Achievement (an individual who has striven through disadvantage to create impact or enact positive change in their own lives, or the lives of others)

• Youth Excellence (an individual 25 years or under who has had a positive impact or achieved something outstanding)

• Community Choice (an individual nominated by fellow Junction tenants or program participants for having a positive impact on their community)

Nominations close on Friday 28th April.

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Creative Culture

17 January 2023

CREATIVE CULTURE

Telling stories through vibrant colours and intricate designs is not only therapy for Phyllis, a proud Ngarrindjeri woman from the Fleurieu Peninsula, but also a way of preserving her culture for future generations.

As a teen, Phyllis found her passion for art and went on to complete four years of art school through Tauondi Aboriginal Community College. There, she nurtured her skills and embraced her culture.

“I’m just drawn to art,” Phyllis said. “I was a child who always had a pen and would be doodling. I just love it, it’s my therapy.”

In 1998, Phyllis experienced a car accident that resulted in serious injuries to her neck, back and shoulder. It took her years to get back on her feet but rediscovering her passion for painting helped with her recovery.

"Painting helps me with pain. It helps me to keep my mind off things and it helps me to keep focused. This is my escape."

That said, Phyllis’ creativity isn’t limited to canvas. She is also a talented seamstress, sculptor, beader and crocheter. She learned many of these skills from her mother.

Phyllis has turned her spare bedroom into an artistic sanctuary – full of artworks in progress. Whenever she is experiencing pain or trauma, she finds comfort in playing music and shutting the studio door to the outside world.

“I’m not tidy, I come out with paint in my hair,” she said. “Sometimes I will be in here until 5am. It’s easy to lose track of time when you enjoy what you’re doing.”

Now, more than ever, Phyllis is determined to share her culture with her six grandchildren. In addition to her art, she has also been tasked with designing the family cookbook to share and preserve traditional recipes handed down from her parents.

“It’s really important for me to pass my culture on to my grandchildren. If I don’t pass my culture on, it dies with me.”

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Loud & Proud

22 November 2022

LOUD & PROUD

Lee-Anne has loved singing as long as she can remember. However, after suffering family abuse as a young person, she stopped – and stayed silent for a very long time.

“I loved singing,” she said. “Ever since I was a child. I started when I was three. That got taken away from me because of abuse from a family member and I was too ashamed to sing and dance.”

Almost fifty years later, the grandmother of 21 and great grandmother of 3 has found her voice again as part of a very special group.

Finding Your Voice – Women’s Community Choir brings together 28 women aged between 20 and 70. Delivered through Junction, the Choir, which has been practicing since August, will perform at a concert at the Old Noarlunga Town Hall on Sunday.

The initiative was funded through a grant from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Local Drug Action Team. Widespread research shows that women who have experienced domestic violence are more likely to engage in risky and addictive behavior.

“I’m showing off today,” Lee-Anne joked at one of the final practice sessions. “I love being part of this group.

"I feel exhilarated. I feel so happy to be part of women that are survivors. You are very safe here. It’s a safe place."

Safety is something Lee-Anne never takes for granted having fled abuse with no-where to go.

“In 1974 I had to run with my little baby,” she said. “But there was nowhere to run.”

This led to Lee-Anne squatting with some other women in several vacant homes.

“The Housing Trust ended up buying them. That’s when women’s shelters first came out. So, I was part of the pioneer group. I am very proud of that.

“I am passionate about wanting to give back and help other women who have been through similar things. It IS my passion.”

Like many people who have experienced violence and abuse, Lee-Anne’s life journey has been long and winding.

“I’ve been addicted to many substances since I was 8 years old,” she explained. “Because of abuse when I was young, I couldn’t shake them off until just recently.

Lee-Anne, now healthier and happier than she’s ever been, said the choir, and music generally, has been critical to her healing.

“I love Van Morrison,” she said. “He has a song called Brand New Day and it’s about abuse and conquering it. That gives me a lot of feelings of being powerful.

“Freedom. Freedom is my main message. And exhilaration.”

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Playing a Part in Food Relief

15 November 2022

PLAYING A PART IN FOOD RELIEF

The lead up to Christmas is proving a busy time for Matt.

As a Foodbank volunteer, he sees first hand the impact cost of living pressures are having on South Australians and he’s proud he can play some role in supporting the most vulnerable, especially during the festive season.

Matt, who lives in Junction housing at Oaklands Park, spends three mornings a week building pallets, moving stock and supporting the everyday operations at Foodbank’s Edwardstown warehouse.

Taking on his new role in February, Matt quickly gained new skills and is one of the 700 volunteers across SA who are vital to the running of this crucial service.

“Matt has certainly come out of his shell, he’s now part of the furniture,” Tony, Foodbank Edwardstown’s Warehouse Manager, said. “He really does enjoy it too, which is great.”

Foodbank is Australia’s largest food relief organisation, operating on a scale that makes it crucial to the work of the front line charities supporting vulnerable Australians.

Foodbank provides more than 70 per cent of the food rescued for food relief organisations nation-wide.

From delivery drivers to shop front and customer support, the efforts of the dedicated volunteers stretch far and wide across nine shops and warehouses in metropolitan and rural SA. The Edwardstown service, alone, supports roughly 2000 people per month, giving away 20 tonnes of fruits and vegetables and 6-7000 loaves of bread each week.

“Without volunteers and donations, we couldn’t function,” Tony said.

Matt plays a crucial role in keeping the warehouse safe and tidy – with no task too big or little for him to tackle.

“I like sweeping,” Matt said. “I like packing, I like moving pallets of stock, I like everything.”

But, he admits, it’s the social interactions and being part of a team that supports the community he loves the most.

“I enjoy being a volunteer. It’s really rewarding.”

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Year in Review 21/22

2 November 2022

Point of Impact Year in Review 21/22

We are pleased to present our Point of Impact – Year in Review 2021/22.

What’s the impact we want to have on the people and communities we work with? It’s the most critical question for everyone at Junction.

In defining our brand and strategy for the next five years, we determined supporting South Australians to not just survive but thrive in life, is our direction.

This report reflects our journey to date. It is a tangible and authentic product of our evolution towards an Impact Report demonstrating outcomes as they align to our strategy and within the broader social and political environment.

We are breaking new ground for an ambitious future.

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