Twenty-Three

“I had always been interested in history. Roman history in particular. I had come across Masonry and had learnt a lot previously but I’d never made that jump.”

Twenty-Two

“My biggest struggle, seeing as I’ve just moved back here, is trying to find work. At the moment I’ll take anything. I’m 18 and I’m 1500 bucks in debt. Got kicked out by the old girl and, long story short, I pinched a car and got into a car crash.”

Twenty-One

“Unless you’ve been there and seen that, people don’t appreciate even just having trees and green grass. Or appreciate that we’ve got this country with the fresh air and no fighting. That you can just walk down the street.”

Nineteen

“Well, for me, Cessnock was a big culture shock. Like, I used to go surfing every morning and then we moved here. The first weekend I was here I got my board out of the shed and I’m like, “Which way to the beach, Dad?” Cause I’d never been this far in. I couldn’t even get on the bus with my surfboard.”

Eighteen

“My last image of my Dad is him saying goodbye to me at the airport. I knew Dad had been unwell. I knew I wasn’t going to see him again. I can still cry even now. He was everything to me.“

Seventeen

“People tend to look down on the homeless wandering around with trollies … and I don’t like that. People tend to look away - treat you less - but I used to have all of the material stuff.  And I’m still the same person.”

Sixteen

“I didn’t understand why it was happening to me. I felt, like, why me? Why am I going through this? I felt angry but I think the more frightening thing for me was that I started to feel numb. Like, become numb towards the world. I didn’t feel like I belonged. Like, a person who has kind-of slipped right through the cracks.”

Fifteen

“I don’t think sleeping rough is all that tricky really. I’m still finding it pretty easy cause I’m pretty resilient towards things and that.

I’ve gotten roughed up a few times while sleeping out here. I kind-of just took it like a joke a fair few times cause I always come up pretty fresh out of it and that sort of thing. But it’s pretty confusing.”

Fourteen

“I mean, I still don’t believe I did the wrong thing. I did what any dad would do. All I did was make sure my daughter doesn’t get bullied anymore.”

Thirteen

“I hung around Cessnock but I lived on the streets. This is only, like, 15 years ago. I was sleeping on the Salvation Army step. Sleeping under the drains; often the one over near Woolies. Sometimes now when I go and do my shopping, I look at those drains and I can’t believe that that person is me.”

Twelve

“The stereotype around Cessnock … I don’t like that it exists. And I think if the one thing that I achieve in my life is that my hometown isn’t looked down upon by the people who live in it and by other people who live around it then I’d be happy with that. I think that’s my absolute passion.”

Eleven

“My mum used to work on this chicken farm, so she used to have to leave really early. So, my Nana used to come down the road every morning and get me ready for school. She used to wake me up, make me a Milo milkshake and Nutella on toast and then we used to sit and watch Judge Judy … I loved that.”

Ten

“It’s like your body just gives up. Like your mind or your soul or whatever just gives up. Picture the worst cold you could ever have and probably times it by ten … and what triggers me wouldn’t be the same trigger for someone else.”

Nine

“So, when I was 14, we all toddled off down to Sydney and saw this musical and I think it was the most exciting day of my life. I don’t think I could sleep the night before. We didn’t go to Sydney often either so it was a bit of an adventure.”

Eight

“I was so afraid. But once I did it, it was good. It’s like all the things that you thought would go wrong don’t go wrong and it’s like a moment of freedom.”

Seven

“… I think there’s hope for anyone. Even the worst case, the worst people, can grow up and turn out to be better than they think they can. ”

Six

“He had a bike. And I wish I was game enough to get on the back of one now. My husband wants one of his own now but of course he wont drive again or anything … “

Five

“I lost my partner four months ago, and my best girlfriend, and the house was just closing in on me. I had to get out.”

Four

“For a lot of my life I feel like there’s just been an inadequacy. Who I am, what I do … it’s never been good enough. It’s always been a fight to be accepted or to be worthy.”