MADDISON Ranse was not always confident she would make it to her 18th birthday.
Her mother’s decision to move to the United States led to her running away from an unsuitable carer, an alleged abduction by relatives and being put into foster care while in primary school.
After one of her carers was deemed unsafe to live with, she started couch surfing and ended up in a hotel.
But fast forward eight years and Ms Ranse, 18, is now living independently, studying through the University of Newcastle’s foundation studies program Newstep and is working towards her goal of becoming a nurse.
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“I’m relieved and very proud of myself, as well as the team I have around me,” Ms Ranse said.
“People got to me just in time to show me this world is not as terrible as it seems – the time you’re going through may be horrible, but it’s not going to be that way forever. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Ms Ranse is one of the roughly 130 people in the Hunter and Central Coast participating in the Premier’s Youth Initiative (PYI), a pilot program run by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) that supports vulnerable young people leaving out of home care to find accommodation, continue with education and employment and access mentoring and personal advice.
FACS Minister Pru Goward said 446 people across NSW were being assisted to achieve independence.
The government has allocated $40 million to roll out the program in targeted locations over four years.
“We know that to break the cycle of disadvantage we need to support young people with education, training and health supports, as well as housing, to give them the best possible chance at a brighter future,” she said.
Speaking ahead of Youth Homelessness Matters Day on April 18, Ms Ranse said PYI support included help finding and moving into her own accommodation in Taree and committing to aged care studies at TAFE.
She has also received assistance to relocate after an abusive relationship ended and find accommodation in Newcastle, maintain her property, manage her studies, attend medical appointments and with life advice.
“If it was not for them I wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed to keep pushing on,” she said.
“I never believed I would make it to my 18th birthday – if it was not for them I would not have survived.
“Now when I look at the future I believe I will make it out of Newstep and do something with my life.
“I can see the goals I put in place at 12 become real.
“It didn’t happen the same way I wanted, but if I can survive that I can survive anything.”
Ms Ranse said she wanted to contribute to conversations about homelessness.
“I want to step up to the batting plate and be in the room when real change happens.”
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