Dazza* came into foster care at the age of 14 as his parents were unable to care for him. He had experienced extensive trauma which had a significant impact on his social life and capacity to engage in school. When he came to live at a MacKillop residential home the following year, Dazza had behaviours of violence, drug use, absconding and crime.
It was at this point that Dazza turned over a new leaf. In a short space of five months, he completely transformed his life and has gone on to celebrate a significant milestone: returning home to live with his family.
It started with his move to a Residential Care home. Prior to moving in, Residential House Supervisor, Sian met with Dazza so they could get to know each other before the big day. As moving day drew closer, so did Dazza’s excitement to start his new life.
The care team at the home worked together to ensure his room was set up with all his belongings and furniture in the first 24 hours. They spent time getting to know Dazza and hearing from him about his belongings and the stories behind them.
When Dazza was introduced to the other young people in the home, they warmed to him immediately. They talked together about their successes in life and where they wanted to be in five years’ time. Dazza shared his future goal of not doing drugs and returning to his family home to live.
With these goals in mind, Dazza’s care team supported him to attend all youth justice, drug and alcohol and doctor’s appointments to help him address his drug use over the next five months.
Dazza chose to spend a lot of time at the home, engaging in art with the team and other young people. He went on weekly outings, his favourite being go karting and enjoyed cooking dinners with staff. Dazza created some amazing seafood meals all while having a laugh with other young people and staff. He kept all the recipes of the meals he made in a folder to take with him once he left care.
Dazza started referring to the house as his home and the other young people and staff as family. He reflected a lot about his past behaviours, how much he had changed and how he was making a fresh start at the home. Over the months, Dazza addressed his drug use and completed his youth justice order as he had stopped engaging in crime since moving into the home.
Another of Dazza’s goals was to obtain his Learner’s Permit – the first step to getting his full license. After celebrating his 16th birthday at the home, Dazza spent hours online practicing for the test. The day he sat the test he was nervous and irritable, but the smile on his face when he passed lit up the room. He expressed that he felt truly accomplished. Dazza was then supported by Youth Worker Sue Stilletto to obtain driving lessons and started saving up for a car for when he turns 18. Dazza is filling his life up with goals and achieving them one after the other.
Dazza became a best friend to all the other young people in the home, a calming presence for staff and was committed to his new lifestyle of school, being drug free and non-violent and staying away from crime. He was working hard towards moving back home with his family and worked with his care team on a two month transition plan to ensure he was supported and ready for the move.
As the move approached, Dazza expressed sadness to be leaving his newfound friends and family but continued his commitments to his new lifestyle. When it was time to say goodbye, his farewell was a BBQ that all carers and young people attended. Dazza was able to have closure and say his goodbyes while looking to the future.
One of Dazza’s former carers who came to the farewell noted how much he had changed.
“The Dazza I’m meeting now for the first time is the Dazza I always knew he could be. I feel really proud he can show his true self.”
*Name changed to protect identity.