“If I had three wishes, what would they be?” It’s a question that has provoked my most unattainable desires ever since Aladdin rubbed his magic lamp.


I’d always wanted to have the powers of Goku (the Z fighter from Dragin Ball Z). I longed to be James Bond. And, perhaps, most peculiarly, I really wanted confidence. This is how I came to make those wishes come true.


My name is Rostyn, I like to call myself Ross for short - I grew up in South Africa. When I was five, my parents got divorced and my mother was free from the clutches of my tyrannical father who constantly abused us. Although I remember none of the fists and rapes that Mother said spewed from my father’s wrath.


My mother transformed from being a loving caregiver to someone who crawled from nightclub to nightclub. The sudden transformation of my Mum caught me off guard. I didn’t know how to look after myself while she was out, I couldn’t cook; I didn’t know how to wash my clothes or what to do when I heard strange noises when I was alone through the night.


Eventually I became quite adequate at looking after myself as a small child. I did my homework, I took myself to school, and I made my own meals even though mum was never around. My mother forgot to buy food for the house she came to neglect. My mother then met a new man.


While I was living with him and my mum, I was constantly strangled by him and mentally abused by both him and my mother. All the physical harm he did to my neck and the bruises he inflicted with his punches was the easiest to take. It was the mind games, the manipulation and bullshit that he made my mother believe that hurt the most and still does.


I ran away from home a few times to the bush where I would camp and hide. I acted out in school and had to see school counsellors. However, they never had the adequate ‘skills’ to deal with my issues so I saw a psychologist. My mother stopped the sessions before I told too much. We even moved cities. I lived with them for 12 years.


In the latter years the abuse didn’t occur as frequently as I got stronger and fought back. I moved from South Africa to Byron Bay to be with my aunt. I struggled a lot in Byron: getting paid work was tough and it was tough adjusting to the perpetually changing Ross.


For the majority of my life, I was devoid of self-belief and confidence was something I only dreamed about. People made me anxious and talking to them was hard. I thought life was pointless and had no direction at all. It was impossible to get a job in Byron Bay without any skills, I was told to leave and find refuge in Sydney or Brisbane. One day, however, I walked into the Byron Community Centre and found something that changed my life – a magic lamp that labelled itself “The Community Table Cafe”.


Two genies emerged, called Amanda and Stephanie, from a cloud of smoke that spouted from their steam wands – they were coffee genies and Amanda was the main one. After a month and a half of rejection from every stall from Lennox to Ballina from Mullumbimby to Byron, I was relieved when Amanda, more than happily, took me under her wings.


And so, I began working with the two genies. They taught me how to rub the magic coffee cart, froth milk, tamp, pour and conjure various hot potions. They bestowed on me priceless life and work skills and taught me how to talk to people. And although my discovery was not exactly “Aladdin”, these two genies were hard at work making my dreams a reality.


Amanda and Stephanie did not turn me into James Bond or give me the powers of Goku. However that didn’t matter because whenever I made a killer coffee, or was excelling in customer service, they certainly made me feel like they even granted those wishes.


My time at the Community Table, it must be said, was not easy – there was a lot to learn and towering mountains to climb. But Amanda and Stephanie were there with me, believing and pushing me the whole way. I can’t say, now, that I’m the most confident, or the best at communicating, but I’ve come a long, long way. People no longer scare me. I believe in myself and I know where my life is headed. What Amanda and Stephanie have given me, and what I’ve achieved, I thought was only possible when I closed my eyes and asked myself “If I had three wishes, what would they be?”


As well as Amanda and Stephanie, I want to say thank you to the people I don’t know at Future2 Foundation, who gave the grant to the Byron Community Table Café that made the mentoring program there possible. This is one life they helped to transform.



Bryon Community Centre is the largest provider of social welfare support in the Byron Shire after CentreLink, having been established over 30 years ago. A not for profit organisation, it operates at the interface between the community and the neediest people in the Shire. It is successfully running a wide range of projects such as emergency relief, a homeless drop-in centre, a no-interest loan project, as well as offering counselling support, tax and legal advice and budget counselling. The Community Table Café is a further initiative, offering both a community service and a bridge into employment for local young people.



Organisation Details
PO Box 309, Byron Bay, NSW 2481
Contact details: 

+61 2 6685 6807