KEYS program helps Lily

July 18, 2023

While many women are resting and nesting at 37 weeks pregnant, this was the last thing on Lily’s mind. At 22 years old and heavily pregnant, Lily was referred from CatholicCare’s Safe Homes program to the KEYS program that supports young parents aged 16 – 24 years who are homeless, or at risk of being homeless. Lily’s partner had been arrested for domestic violence in their private rental and Lily could not afford the rent on her own. Several months later, after some intensive support from her KEYS Caseworker, Lily has been successful in securing a private rental and will soon move into her new home.

KEYS Caseworker Jessica says that one of the greatest barriers for Lily was acknowledging the domestic violence she had experienced, “Lily was engaged with the  Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service however, she wanted her AVO removed as she did not believe her partner had perpetrated domestic violence,” Jessica says. Lily was granted access to the Start Safely Subsidy to support her in her private rental, however Lily declined this support. She also declined a range of counselling supports. 

Three weeks before Lily gave birth, her KEYS Caseworker was able to obtain a transitional property. The KEYS and Safe Homes Caseworkers completed safety audits and emergency safety protocols with Lily when she moved into the home. After the safety audit Lily disengaged from her Safe Homes Caseworker as she explained she was struggling to understand that she had been a victim of domestic violence. Thankfully, she continued to engage with her KEYS Caseworker and, over time, gained some new insights into her situation. “She had started to recognise that she had been a victim of domestic violence and that she wanted support to improve her wellbeing,” says Jessica. 

Through the KEYS program, Lily received support with budgeting, and she was referred to a financial Counsellor. “The goal was for Lily to reduce her debt through a Work and Development Order and financial counselling. She was supported to complete a self-care plan and a Victim Services application, and she also completed an online parenting course,” Jessica says. Lily was supported to renew her online rental platforms and to apply for a pre-approved bond loan. Her KEYS Caseworker also advocated to real estate and affordable housing organisations on Lily’s behalf.

When Lily’s son was four months old, her 

ex-partner broke into their transitional property at 2.00am and threatened Lily with a knife. Lily managed to get her ex-partner out of the home, however he caused extensive damage to her property and car. Over the following days and weeks, Lily received intensive support. Plans were made for Lily to stay with family in Sydney and her Caseworker installed security cameras on the property. “We contacted police daily for an update and the perpetrator was arrested,” Jessica said. Child protection services also got involved. 

Lily’s AVO was increased to a no-contact order and her Caseworker advocated for Lily to be accepted into the Start Safely program again. Through this program, Lily would receive a subsidy for a private rental without the perpetrator knowing her address. “We worked with Lily, housing and multiple real estate agents to secure a safe rental. Lily will be moving into her new home this week,” Jessica says. 

Today, Lily acknowledges that she was a victim of domestic violence. “She has stated that upon reflection she can now recognise the signs of domestic violence,” Jessica says, “and she greatly appreciates the advocacy and support she has received through the KEYS program.” 

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