Aunty Irene’s journey with care
Aunty Irene is a proud Wailwan woman and Elder of the local Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place and this is written in her words with consent to share.
"I first met my current case manager, Leslie Camilleri (Silverchain Team Leader, Home Care Packages VIC), 11 years ago when she did a presentation on Home Care Packages (HCP) at the Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place. At the time, I was with another aged care provider. I went up to Leslie on my scooter and said, “I’d like to be with you" and so she worked with me to change providers and here we are 11 years later.
“This is my tenth year of being alcohol free and I’m happy to say that being on a home care package and having the case management has literally kept me alive. Without this I would be forced to impose upon my family and their lives to a degree that no one would like.
“Prior to us meeting Leslie, I was living at a boarding house. It wasn’t a good environment for me. They allowed alcohol consumption and as an alcoholic that suited me.
“In 2012 things were so bad that I attempted suicide. I ended up in a psychiatric centre at the local hospital.
I knew I did not want to go back to the boarding house and I managed to get a room at a supported residential service. I knew of this place from when I met Leslie at the Mullum Mullum Gathering Place.
“I was in a dark mental and emotional state, and I didn’t think anyone on earth could care about me. I was still very fragile and numb emotionally after my hospital stay.
“I remember how I felt when I first met Leslie. I just felt that she was reliable and that she would provide support. This was important to me as it showed me that someone did care.
"Leslie worked alongside Nicole, the community support worker from Mullum Mullum, and together they were able to secure better accommodation. For a couple of years, I lived in a bedsit in a retirement village and now I’m living in a 1-bedroom unit which is terrific. I have room to entertain and independence to do my weaving and write my poetry."
Having a safe and secure place to call her own has opened up so many other opportunities for Aunty Irene. She describes that it wasn’t just one specific thing that made the difference but how all of the support brought together opened up the possibilities. Aunty Irene now enjoys a rewarding and fulfilling life, including:
- Teaching traditional weaving to community members and in schools.
- Exhibiting art for the past eight years at The Koorie Heritage Trust.
- Being a cultural educator with Koorie Education Officers in the courts.
- Being the founding member of the Yeng Gali Mullum Mullum Choir.
- Representing Community on local Community Service Committees and advocating for improvement of services to Aboriginal Community.
- Written and published a book of poetry “Out of My Head and Onto the Page”.
- Being an Elder and mentor to local Indigenous youth.
- Being a part of creating the wall mural at Eastland shopping centre.
Aunty Irene shares, “Life has certainly turned around for me from those dark days. I’m happy and enjoy all that life now offers with the just right amount of support too!"