Shareen and her husband shared their one bedroom apartment in Melbourne’s Western suburbs with her 34 year old brother, her 4 year old daughter Azar and her growing baby bump.
Without work rights or Centrelink eligibility, the family were unable to purchase any basic items for the pregnancy, little Azar, or the baby on the way.
The Department of Human Services had visited the family previously, and made clear that suitable sleep arrangements had to be made before the baby was born. This included appropriate cots for both Azar and the baby.
Shareen expressed a sense of shame and humiliation when discussing her pregnancy. Motherhood- she noted, was daunting. She had never expected to approach this without her community of mothers, aunts and sisters. But here she was, isolated and disconnected from family, and without knowledge of the supports available for mothers and their children.
Through the efforts of local health workers, Shareen and her family learned they were eligible for financial support, allowing them to move in to a sizeable family home. And following the birth of Asam, Shareen noted her village of support had been recreated through her local community. As a result of these new connections, Shareen was referred to St Kilda Mums, who provided the family with appropriate clothing, prams and cots within weeks.
Shareen says she could never have imagined her life as a mother of two in Melbourne’s Western suburbs. But with her children happily thriving in their local community- and sleeping safely at night in their cots donated by the wider community, Shareen says she finally feels at ease in motherhood.
Words: Jess Rosenburg, Social Worker and Picture: Glenn Daniels, Herald Sun