My name is “Jack” and I am 15 years old. I go to school in my local area and consider myself academically smart and I enjoy the school I go to. Life at home wasn’t great, I lived with my mum and to be honest we didn’t really have much of a relationship. There was no communication between us on almost any emotional level except for fighting. I found mum completely inconsistent in how she treated me and arguments sometimes got out of hand and escalated to physical violence.

Midway through 2016 a fight broke out with mum and it turned violent. I broke some things in her house during the fight and subsequently was asked to leave and was sent to my dad’s place. My dad lived with his new partner and their baby and issues there quickly started to bubble up when dad felt it was not safe to have me around the new baby with my supposed anger issues and mental health issues. After a few nights at dad’s house I was asked to leave and now I literally had nowhere left to go.

Although not willing to take me back, my mum found a number for crisis care and gave it to me, I called them up and was soon connected with a few different services in Perth who all said they wouldn’t take me due to being 15. I was eventually connected with TINOCA and after a long chat about everything that was going on they agreed to let me come in for a face-to-face interview and I was given the address.

After I hung up the phone to TINOCA it dawned on me how grave my situation was. I was now homeless. I imagined a large house, with hundreds of dorms and lots of beds full of displaced kids. I imaged a scene from Oliver Twist and became very anxious. Regardless, I turned up to TINOCA and was invited in to do a face-to-face interview and then was offered a place to stay. I was given a bed and my own room and was shown around the house. I met some of the other residents who were staying at TINOCA and at first I was incredibly shy, I felt like everyone in the house was different to me, they looked odd. I didn’t know anyone and I continued to question what I was doing with my life. To be honest, despite now having a roof over my head this was a very dark time and I wasn’t sure what was ahead of me. I was still enrolled in school and had a part time job, now all of a sudden I am in a strange place, with strange people. Am I one of them now?

My feelings from my first night at TINOCA changed very quickly, I started to get used to the people who lived there and with some of them started to make quite close friends. It was strange, with some people I felt myself getting close, with others I felt we lived in a house together but just existed, with no relationship forming and in some cases clashing of personalities. I was happy with how I managed to fit in without too much drama, a lot less than I thought. The support at TINOCA was also very helpful for me, there was support whenever I needed it. There was always someone working on shift and they would listen to me. This was a new experience from what I was used to.

After one month of staying at TINOCA I began to reflect on my relationship with my parents. While previously fractured to the point of being kicked out, with me not living with them things started to change. We started to see each other every now and again and would generally not fight. With the help of TINOCA I started to work towards a reunification plan and met with another outside worker who was the go-between person between me and my parents. My anger was almost completely gone now that I was not in their home and my confidence in myself was also changing. Somehow, my parents have become more willing to help me and I have been more open to seeing the changes I need to make in myself. Moving forward from this, it would take almost three months at TINOCA to get to the point where family reunification would become an option. TINOCA made me see some of the issues my parents might be facing from a new angle, I could see problems I was creating that I either couldn’t see before or didn’t want to see.

I am writing this four months after leaving TINOCA and I am now living with my dad and his partner and my little sister. Things are great! I graduated year 10 and was very happy with my grades considering the sort of year I had. My relationship with my dad is stronger than ever and I even think my little sister looks up to me. While things with mum are still not great, we are still working on it. I have a job and am working when I can and am truly happy that things have worked out the way that they have. Things could have been much different.

You know, half way through my stay at TINOCA I was asked to write down some of my aspirations for the future, I wrote down that I wanted live in a stable house, I wanted to be part of a functioning family that was fair with their emotions. Now four months out from TINOCA and many, many months from when me and my family broke down, I look at my time as a homeless youth as a blip in my story.