A lot of people wonder these days: How do I give my life more meaning?

Posted on 17 February 2017 by Louise Carson

“Every single person in Australia believes children and teenagers should have a safe home environment – we don’t have any excuse to not be part of the solution” – Joe.

A lot of people wonder these days: ‘How do I give my life more meaning?’

For many of us that might involve caring and supporting our own friends and family. It might be working in healthcare, teaching or social services. It might be donating to social justice causes which help improve the lives of others.

Or it could be what young Western Sydney couple Emma and Joe are doing.

Emma and Joe have just taken up the role of live-in carers for young people aged 12-15 years facing homelessness. Their job is to provide a welcoming, safe and stable home environment for teenagers who feel they can no longer live at home. This could be because of a relationship breakdown within the family, conflict between parents and the child, or the young person just needs some time apart to work on re-connecting with their family.

Emma and Joe are live-in carers for the Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP), operated by MacKillop Family Services in Blacktown, Sydney.

MacKillop is now searching for another couple, or two single people, who could provide live-in care to young people in a provided property in Western Sydney. MacKillop is also seeking 4-5 respite carers who can give the permanent carers a break when needed.

Yes I can help

Emma and Joe are making a real difference in the lives of young people. But their own lives are not on hold. Joe continues to work as a Teacher’s Aide at a local public school while studying for his Masters in Psychotherapy at Western Sydney University. Emma is the primary HYAP carer but she has plans to study online with a focus on children who have experienced trauma.

“What attracted us to the role was that you can make the HYAP property your own and welcome young people to your home for whatever time it takes for them to move back with their family or be placed in alternative accommodation,” said Emma.

“The ages between 12-15 years can be scary. Imagine being that age and feeling like the only option is to leave your family. We want these teens to know that despite what they have been through, despite their behaviour, we will care for them when they are at their lowest.

 “It’s a real opportunity to provide early intervention work to help these young teens get back on track and stop them ending up on the street later. It’s preventative work.

“These young people and their families will get a second chance to make things right, to do family life better.”

Emma and Joe feel a great responsibility to the children of the world.

“We want a family of our own, but not just yet”, said Joe. “Before this happens we are committed to helping children and young people in need. It’s our responsibility as a community. If it’s within our capability, we should do it.”

As well as being on the frontline of ending youth homelessness, HYAP live-in carers are well supported by MacKillop.

HYAP carers live rent-free in a fully-furnished HYAP property and are provided with full use of a serviced car. All utilities are paid for and the carers receive generous tax-free carer reimbursements. Live-in carers are also provided with training, and offered 24-hour support from experienced MacKillop staff.

MacKillop is looking for carers like Emma and Joe – those with the resilience, maturity, emotional intelligence and mentoring skills to provide a safe, stable and supportive home environment for young people.

“Teenagers are often the forgotten ones”, said Joe. “Just like in foster care everyone wants the babies. But this work can be so rewarding, to help young people when they are going through a really hard time.”

For more information on the HYAP live in carer role you can read our Frequently Asked Questions. Alternatively you can call 1300 144 981 or email marmac@mackillop.org.au and a MacKillop staff member can provide more details.

Live-In carers will be authorised as NSW foster carers, including all the statutory checks. Carers must be an Australian citizen or Permanent Resident.