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An uphill battle

Brad and Fay* were in love. They had spent their life together, raised children together, and navigated life’s ups and downs together, including the use of drugs and alcohol. Brad was quiet and laid back and Fay was vibrant and full of life. They were a perfect match.

Brad and Fay had been seeing Dr Wright at First Step for over a decade for opiate replacement therapy and support with their mental health.

Unexpectedly, and very sadly, Fay died while visiting her mum.

Brad and Fay had lived for many years in public housing together, however he was not on the lease agreement. When Fay died, their family was confused and disorganised in their grief. And Brad was just inconsolable with grief.

Dr Wright asked Hayley, the First Step Care Coordinator, to meet with Brad and help navigate the housing situation.

Over the next two months, Hayley spoke to numerous people across Housing Victoria, each time receiving mixed messages – Brad could live there for 12 months and then be added to the lease; Brad couldn’t live there at all; Brad could live there. And with each of these mixed messages came copious amounts of forms that needed to be completed.

‘Brad’s housing situation was an uphill battle and there were always so many balls in the air.’ – Hayley, First Step Care Coordinator

Finally, after receiving advice from the Public Housing Advocate, consulting with First Step Legal and negotiating the complex relationship between Brad and Fay’s family, Brad was added to the lease and the keys handed over.

This process was overwhelming and difficult to navigate and would have been simply unbearable for Brad to do alone. In fact, he probably would have abandoned the process and been left homeless if not for Hayley’s tenacious perseverance.

Once this was resolved, Brad started seeing the First Step Nurse to manage his diabetes and support him with some grief counselling.

On one of his visits back to First Step, Brad mentioned to Hayley that Fay often paid extra into their rental account and wondered if he could access that money.

Housing Victoria acknowledged that there was nearly $5,000 in Trust, however they were reluctant to transfer them into credit for Brad’s rental or refund him the money as Fay’s next of kin.

‘If I know the answer, I’ll help. Sometimes we have knowledge that we don’t even realise we have until someone is having a problem. And if we can’t help, then we’d know how to find someone to help them.’ - Hayley, First Step Care Coordinator

Hayley spent another two months chasing Housing Victoria for a solid answer, and with each piece of information came more forms for Brad to complete. Finally, they transferred the funds into his account.

Brad is now learning to live again. He’s reduced his appointments with Dr Wright and with the nurse. He’s finding a new routine and rhythm to his life. And although his heart is still broken, he has a secure home for him to heal in.

*We have changed our clients names to protect their privacy