After completing their traineeship at Charcoal Lane, graduates like Sam* have been actively involved in advocating for their needs and the needs of their peers. Drawing on lived experiences of homelessness and vulnerability, our graduates have participated in various media opportunities, government submissions and research reports such as Mission Australia’s annual Youth Survey.   

Sam* is a Yorta Yorta, Wemba-Wemba woman who has been involved in the Charcoal Lane program.  

Sam lived in a social housing unit after a six-year wait. She was pregnant with her first child at the time and was unable to afford a home in the private rental market.  

During a recent Public Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria, Sam took the initiative to share her story with government leaders and policy makers. 

Sam's story
Sam looking into the sunset

“It was difficult being pregnant and not knowing where we were going to live in the long term,” shared Sam. “I was lucky that my mother let me stay in her two-bedroom unit until a housing unit became available.”  

But when Sam gave birth to two more children, things started to change at home.   

Sam had just lost her sister to suicide when she experienced family violence for the first time. The violence affected Sam's mental health and recovery from substance use. 

It became unsafe for Sam and her three children. When the police and child protection authorities got involved, Sam's children were taken into state care.  

Sam is now at Bunjilwarra Youth Healing Centre for Aboriginal Youth to overcome substance dependency and learn how to cope with the trauma.  

Sam is determined to secure a safe home where she can rebuild a life with her children.  

“Having a safe home for my children is a big part of my recovery, and without that I feel it may jeopardise all that I am working so hard to overcome,” Sam told the Inquiry. 

Learn more about young people and their experience of homelessness in our Youth Survey.

Charcoal Lane closed its doors in September 2021.

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