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Melissa’s story: finding confidence and care

20 September 2017 Stories of hope

Melissa found support and connection through Wesley Youth Hope.“Kiss Mummy,” Melissa says, gently nudging noses with her bubbly one- year-old Macy.

The playful bond between mum and bub is a far cry from circumstances that have unfolded over the past few years, testing the strength of this determined young woman and the promise and power of maternal love.

Macy is Melissa’s fourth child, and her first with her devoted partner Mac, whom she describes as her ‘rock’.

Other children Jarrad, 11 and Teresa, 13, were removed from her custody after experiencing abuse and domestic violence with Melissa’s previous partner. Rydha, aged six, went and lived with his paternal grandmother.

“The children went to my sister’s … Jarrad had to move into a foster home.”

Jarrad has since been returned to Melissa’s care with support from Wesley Mission’s Youth Hope program. Wesley Youth Hope offers voluntary tailored support to help young people remain with their families with a renewed focus on positive growth and development.

The family has also been strengthened during the past year by a hands-on parenting course called SafeCare, piloted through Wesley Mission’s Brighter Futures program in Western Sydney.

SafeCare is an evidence-based, behavioural skills training program for parents of children identified as being at-risk or who have been reported to child protection services.

It’s about getting back to basics using the power of ‘touch and talk’ to help parents to better connect and communicate with their children.

Caseworkers visit participants in their homes weekly for about an hour to help them through the practical side of parenting.

The parent learns transferable skills in preparing a child for a task, how to prompt better behaviour during the activity and finally how to wrap things up through communication techniques.

The course has a key focus on the basics of looking, touching, talking, feeling and smiling as communication tools between parent and child.

Melissa said she enjoyed the individualised course format with its personalised support from her SafeCare caseworker Sue.

The future is certainly brighter now for Melissa and one where she feels calmer and confident as Macy’s mum, thanks to SafeCare.

“It’s about appreciating what you have – don’t take it for granted!,” Melissa said.