When YWCA NSW first met Lisa, she had been referred to them from a crisis domestic violence refuge. She was very isolated, very intimidated and very scared. Originally from overseas, she had no friends or family in the country and was concerned about herself and her two boys’ residency in Australia.  She had very little confidence in herself, her parenting and her life in general.


Lisa was fleeing an extremely abusive relationship.  She had nobody in her life to assist her in any way. To escape her husband’s violence, she used to sleep in the park with her kids, sometimes underneath parked cars. Then she ended up in a crisis home and was moved between various forms of accommodation.


She eventually found herself at YWCA NSW’s Young Women’s Intermediate Supported Accommodation (YWISA) program, at first only thinking it was a parenting program. YWISA aims to provide safe and supported medium-term accommodation to homeless young women who are pregnant, have children or are working on the restoration of their children. These young mothers often have a long history of abuse including domestic violence, sexual assault, incest, homelessness, poor living and parenting skills.


At first, Lisa took part in group work offered by YWISA and she made contact with its staff and other clients. From there she managed to build up a network of support both in clients and staff.


Following the group work Lisa went to live in one of the YWISA refuges and was provided with casework, counselling, life and parenting skills and case management. But more than that, she was provided with a sense of security and a family she could trust.


“When Lisa first came to us she was extremely vulnerable, extremely quiet and extremely angry. Shewas so scared that she would very rarely speak. Only occasionally would she interact with the other mothers in the group.


“At YWISA we don’t have a time frame on how long people stay and we let her have the time that she needed. She has grown to be extremely confident and she’s come out of her shell. She feels safe. She’s aware of what healthy relationships are. She is confident in herself and her children. She’s confident of the way she brings her children up, she’s confident that she knows what is best for her children and what is not best for her children.”Rebecca, YWISA Worker.



Lisa said, “Before coming to know the programs at the YWCA I honestly had no goals in life, didn’t know where I would be or what I would be doing. I lived every day as it came. But as I got involved with the program I could at least have a daily goal… with YWCA help I am managing to achieve my goals and that makes me happy. And, if I am looking back at my future then I would say my future is much brighter than what I was expecting before - I don’t know [where I would have been] probably dead in a drain.”


“I [now] know I can get myself educated, get a good job, live a normal life like normal families and that’s what I am aiming for at the moment.”


Lisa’s children were also very withdrawn when they joined the program. They didn’t trust anybody and they didn’t know how to interact with other children.  Over time, they have blossomed into two wonderful young children and they are excited and engaged with people and they love life and they love to play.


What’s more, they are excelling in their school work and in sporting events. They both play soccer for the local soccer team and attend swimming lessons.


“Attending this program really helped me to know a child can be a child and it’s ok. That was the best side of it because I never had that as a child. Now as a family we dream of the future. We’ve got goals in life. I’m going back to school and educating myself. My bigger one [child] dreams of being a fireman and the little one is really into music and looking at being a singer.


“This program does help us put one foot next to another, to keep walking forward and that’s what I honestly love about this program. It makes me stronger.”


YWCA NSW is still in touch with Lisa, offering support on an outreach basis and she and her family are now living in long term social housing.


Lisa has now completed a Certificate II, III and IV and a Diploma in Business Management and is hoping to gain employment this year. She has even developed enough trust in her abilities to recognise safe relationships that she is currently in a very supportive and caring relationship.


Her gratitude and commitment to YWCA NSW and the YWISA program is such that she has been a spokesperson for its client group and services with various corporate partners and government representatives.


Talking about her new found parenting and life skills, Lisa said, “It’s great because it helps someone to share your knowledge. It doesn’t just help them, but for me as an individual to know that I have given my knowledge to someone and to know that they’re happy about it makes me happy. And most mothers to my surprise tell me how good I am as Mother. I say thank you to them but in the end the thank you comes back to where I learned it from. And to pass it on is great.”



YWCA NSW is a not-for-profit organisation, which supports more than 32,000 vulnerable people at times in their lives when they need it most - regardless of their age, religion or gender - across NSW each year.


It is part of the worldwide YWCA network and has been a part of the fabric of Australian culture since 1880. Today it delivers an innovative and sustainable mix of community services and programs, both independently and in conjunction with other not-for-profits as well as contributing to its own sustainability through commercial and social enterprises.

Organisation Details
5-11 Wentworth Avenue Sydney, NSW, 2000
Contact details: 

+61 2 9285 6237