Wellington, NSW

Life after prison can be tough, really tough. A woman, often disconnected from her children, tries to come back to her old life. But it’s lonely, sad and uncertain. Then she’s offered a chance to go away for a few days with her children and be looked after and supported by people who care and who won’t judge her.

That sums up the experience for three women and their children who were part of the ‘Writing Our Way Home’ project by Barnardos Australia and supported by Highways and Byways.

The women from Wellington, in NSW, stepped out of their difficult lives for a few days and glimpsed how things could be. The weekend, run in partnership with The Write Road, is part of a ‘wrap-around’ support service provided by Barnardos Australia.

Shiree Talbot, from Barnardos, works closely with the women and says two of the families are thriving in recent months and are working to overcome challenges most people could never even imagine.

“We work very closely with these mothers who are from families that have experienced generational trauma. Any support for the mothers will of course benefit their children, who are at risk of not completing school and becoming vulnerable to a lot of other issues,” Shiree said.

The ‘Writing Our Way Home’ weekend focused on culturally meaningful ways for the Indigenous women to share and write stories and connect with their children and community on country.

Shiree said workers were able to help the mothers recognise the emotional and social needs of their children through the process of ‘writing our way home’.

“These mothers and kids can have a pretty tough life at home so being together in this safe place meant they could bond with each other and enjoy each other. All the time workers are supporting them to manage any challenges that come along. These women and their children have all suffered so much grief and loss.” Shiree said.

“One night we had a camp-fire and the women were showing their kids what to do. They were passing on knowledge and their kids were absorbing what they were saying. The experience made the women feel so valued.”

Shiree said most people would have trouble understanding the significance of the camp. “It’s about helping these families have hope for a future, helping them believe that there can be a future.”

Shiree Talbot, from Barnardos, works closely with the women and says two of the families are thriving in recent months and are working to overcome challenges most people could never even imagine.

“We work very closely with these mothers who are from families that have experienced generational trauma. Any support for the mothers will of course benefit their children, who are at risk of not completing school and becoming vulnerable to a lot of other issues,” Shiree said.

The ‘Writing Our Way Home’ weekend focused on culturally meaningful ways for the Indigenous women to share and write stories and connect with their children and community on country.

Shiree said workers were able to help the mothers recognise the emotional and social needs of their children through the process of ‘writing our way home’.

“These mothers and kids can have a pretty tough life at home so being together in this safe place meant they could bond with each other and enjoy each other. All the time workers are supporting them to manage any challenges that come along. These women and their children have all suffered so much grief and loss.” Shiree said.

“One night we had a camp-fire and the women were showing their kids what to do. They were passing on knowledge and their kids were absorbing what they were saying. The experience made the women feel so valued.”

Shiree said most people would have trouble understanding the significance of the camp. “It’s about helping these families have hope for a future, helping them believe that there can be a future.”