Gateway a Lifeline for Young, Single Father

Gateway a Lifeline for Young, Single Father

The Gateway program is aligned with our core principal of working together with the individual, carers, family, and other service providers to give greater choice and individual control to people living with a disability, and we look forward to continuing to help vulnerable Tasmanian’s get the support they require.”

Gateway’s fifth anniversary is being acknowledged with the production of a special commemorative book, which demonstrates the strength and success of the program through stories like Damon’s, one of oor long-term clients in Baptcare Tasmania.

Damon was just like any other 16 year old in Hobart. With a cheeky smile, sense of humour, and a passion for all things automotive, the world was his oyster.

However, Damon’s typical world was turned upside down when he became primary carer for his infant son, Blaze. To further compound the stresses involved with being a single parent at such a young age, Blaze was born with cerebral palsy.

What followed was a steep learning curve in things most teenagers are yet to discover: nappies, baby formula, childcare, and caring for someone with higher needs.

But the extra responsibility that came with being a single father hit Damon harder than most – he was no longer able to afford his accommodation, and he and Blaze was at serious risk of falling into homelessness.

“I felt like I had lost control of my life and was just completely overwhelmed. Everything was spiralling out of control quickly,” Damon said.

“People were trying to give me advice, telling me to do this and that; but being so young and new to that world, I had no idea who to listen to or what to do.”

But then help arrived, as Damon was introduced to the Tasmanian Gateway program – a joint initiative between Mission Australia, Baptcare and the State Government.

Damon is one of more than 11,000 Tasmanians whose lives have turned around since encountering the Gateway program, which has helped an estimated 2,500 children avoid the child protection system.

The program works by providing individuals and families with appropriate information and advice, brief intervention and referrals to relevant services. Damon says this level of holistic support really made the difference when it came to getting back on his feet.

“Gateway gave me so much more than just advice about where to turn for help, and my caseworker Rachel really went above and beyond to make sure Blaze and I where looked after. She’d make sure I had the right appointments, provide transport there and back, and follow up on everything.

“Just knowing someone is fighting in your corner is a massive confidence boost. I wasn’t alone anymore and all of a sudden I felt like I could breathe again.

“I used to wake up terrified, thinking ‘how am I going to pay for the basics, let alone give Blaze the life I want him to have?’ Now - two years later - I have a new partner, a newborn daughter, a stable income and home, and Blaze is growing up with the chance to succeed that every kid deserves.”

Gateway is this week celebrating five years of service to vulnerable Tasmanians.

Noel Mundy, Mission Australia’s State Director, says the program has been instrumental in helping struggling Tasmanian families keep their heads above water.

“Mission Australia has a long history of supporting families, and ensuring children are given every opportunity to grow and thrive – the Gateway program continues that proud tradition.

“Over the course of its five years, the program has helped over 600 families facing or experiencing homelessness receive support, while over 4,000 parents have used the service to improve their parenting skills. These are great results, and highlight the importance of holistic support programs such as Gateway.”

On top of its work with parents and families as well as young people at risk, the program also provides support for those with disabilities.

Baptcare General Manager for Family and Community Services, Marita Scott, says the Disability Gateway Service has been has been fundamental in the work the organisations are able to do with individuals and families in Tasmania..

“We’re extremely proud to be celebrating five years of the program, knowing the difference that it’s made to so many lives.

“The Gateway program is aligned with our core principal of working together with the individual, carers, family, and other service providers to give greater choice and individual control to people living with a disability, and we look forward to continuing to help vulnerable Tasmanian’s get the support they require.”

Gateway’s fifth anniversary is being acknowledged with the production of a special commemorative book, which demonstrates the strength and success of the program through stories like Damon’s.

The book was launched by the Minister for Human Services Hon Jacqui Petrusma MP at an event on Thursday, April 30.

You can view the book here.

Baptcare is a community services organisation, founded in 1945, and currently works across 34 sites in Victoria and Tasmania, offering residential and community care for older people, support to children, families, and people with disability, financially disadvantaged people and asylum seekers.

Mission Australia is a non-denominational Christian community service organisation that has been helping people to regain their independence for over 155 years. We offer a wide range of integrated solutions over the long term, through homelessness initiatives and affordable housing, early learning and youth services, family support, and employment and skills development.

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