Technology for social justice
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Homeless to hopes of study: one woman's journey

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we’re publishing a series of posts throughout March looking at the challenges women face in our society. Our previous article, Google gives a tick for tech supporting women, highlighted our successful partnership with Google and our combined projects supporting women through technology.

This week, Nicole* shares her journey of becoming homeless after fleeing domestic violence. Sadly, this is a common story as women and children escaping family violence were the largest group of people searching for housing last year via our support website, Ask Izzy.

Three years ago, Nicole was in an abusive relationship that had also caused a lot of friction between her and her family.

“My partner did a fantastic job of isolating me from my family and creating a situation where they had cut me off financially,” Nicole says.

“I was four hours late to my sister’s wedding and that was, I guess, the straw that broke the camel’s back. I missed the ceremony. It was actually extremely traumatic.

“And so, as a result of that situation, and several others, my family, basically who I had always relied on for support, had said enough is enough you have to do it on your own.”

When Nicole left her partner, she had no support network left.

“I didn’t even have time to grab my handbag - no ID, nothing. I just left and I ran. I was living in the country so I hitchhiked to Melbourne.

“When I got to Melbourne I just thought, I’m not going back, I can’t go to any friends or family for support, so I just have to work it out from here.”

After sleeping at a church one night, the priest there called the Salvation Army and put Nicole in touch with a domestic violence support service.

Nicole moved from a women’s refuge to a backpackers, and eventually found herself living on the streets. That is, until the Salvation Army’s Magpie Nest program helped her to find secure housing.

Nicole’s story is one that is not uncommon, and is one of the reasons behind why we developed products like Ask Izzy, connecting people who are homeless with support, as well as our client and case management system, which supports vulnerable women across Australia.

"One of the most significant issues that are facing people who are homeless, is a sense of being for forgotten and a sense of hopelessness,” The Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle says.

 “One of the wonderful things about the Ask Izzy initiative is it answers both of these issues quite profoundly.  

“It lets people know that they are not forgotten, that there are a whole range of people that are concerned about them and it gives them links into local services that will help get them back onto their feet." 

With a brighter future ahead of her, Nicole is now studying community service work and hopes to continue her studies to complete a Bachelor of Social Work.

What are your thoughts on technology supporting those who are homeless? Share your comments with us below.

Read more about Ask Izzy.

*Names have been changed to protect the individual’s identity. 

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