Growing up my parents taught me the importance of working hard to get what you want in life. As a kid I watched them struggle everyday, effectively tearing our family apart. We lived separately in our grandparents’ houses for five years before we finally had a home of our own. My mum worked night shifts at a hospital and our dad worked till late at night building a home big enough for us all. When an opportunity to tree change from inner city Melbourne to the town of Cumnock in rural NSW came up my parents jumped at it, not fully knowing what dangers they were throwing our family into.
The reality was a three bedroom house for a family of eight, with another baby on the way a house kilometres away from the nearest neighbours and a building that had not been lived in for 20 years, riddled with asbestos and rats the size of terriers. In the first weeks we woke up to find all our food ransacked by vermin. I started high school two hours away in Orange.
Just as my parents began to break down we were saved by the compassion of our neighbours, who offered to put us up for a while, which eventually stretched into a seven month stint, while dad gutted and rebuilt our farmhouse. Soon enough the strength of the love and care our family had for one another shone through, as we found our groundings in our new lives. Simply being able to spend real time with my parents, to enjoy the company of siblings and to develop our relationships in isolation helped my family weather the further hardships over the next few years as we took the financial strain of feeding nine mouths with no source of income, the exhaustion of rebuilding our house, high school bullying, car crashes, drought, isolation, living off Centrelink and Salvation Army support and mental health issues. Nothing broke us, and we are ultimately a better family for having gone through it all.
Despite this, my parents saw that the country was no place to raise teenagers. Once again they worked as hard as they could to give us opportunities in life. My mum especially opened up doors for me and my future, most notably helping to support me in my opportunity coming to Riverview, knowing that whilst my parents lost a considerable part of their family unit, school in Sydney was far more important in my development and future.
In my experience God, as an agent of love, has been shown through the courage, love, support and care of my family through times of adversity through the courage I have found within myself to tackle each change in my life as best I can and through finding ways to give back to those around me. I would like to thank the College and all those involved with the bursary program for giving me the opportunity to discover so much about myself and the world, for allowing me to find a new family in the Riverview community, and for supporting my family through the trials we have faced.