At 43 years of age, *Charlie feels like life is just beginning. Residing at our Women’s Service since May 2020, she has just been selected from 3,000 applicants to take up a haul truck operator traineeship with BHP.
It’s an incredible turn-around for a woman who, in the last 12 months since arriving at St Bart’s, has overcome a 20-year addiction to drugs, earned her driver’s licence, and gained employment working 12-hour kitchen shifts on the mines.
“I had a great upbringing, finished Year 12, went to Sydney University and completed a preparatory year in Health Science before dropping out and getting into addiction,” Charlie says. “That was it for me. I hit rock bottom and struggled with it for the next 20 years.”
It wasn’t until Charlie was admitted to hospital for three weeks for a bad infection in her neck that she broke down and told doctors that she was homeless, had a terrible addiction and that she wanted help. That help came when the doctors contacted St Bart’s.
“The first night I slept in my room here I kept wondering if these people (support staff) were going to wake me up all the time to get up and do stuff,” says Charlie. “But they give you privacy… this place keeps me grounded and safe. It’s home.
“My room is always there and the workers are so awesome. They support me in whatever decision I make and they’ve always got a solution.”
After having the time to rest and reflect, and with the encouragement of her three sons, Charlie soon decided she was ready to get a job and began working at Christmas Creek, making sandwiches and washing dishes for up to 2,000 miners on a 2-and-1 roster.
And now, having just been accepted for the BHP traineeship, the sky is the limit.
“I’m at the peak of my life where I can do whatever I want and be whatever I want,” says Charlie. “I can still buy that house if I want to. I’ve got too many things I want to achieve now to ever go back to that. I don’t want to be the victim anymore. I just want to keep kicking goals. All I want is to be a better mum and to wake up every day knowing that I’ve done the best I could.”
In 2019-20, St Bart’s Women’s Service supported 52 women through a range of services to improve their confidence and independence, their ability to sustain long-term accommodation, and their personal health and wellbeing with a view to reconnect with friends and family.
A donation today will help us provide safe accommodation and support for more women, just like Charlie, who need our help to rest, recover, and re-establish their sense of place in the community.
*name has been changed for privacy.