Youth Who Stayed at Bald Hills Homeless Shelter Graduates from QUT

Dylia* was 16 years old when she ran away from home. She was fortunate enough to have found refuge at a Bald Hills shelter that provides crisis accommodation and emergency housing for young people. At Carinity Orana, she found a “very positive environment” where she got the support and encouragement to turn her life around.

While at the Bald Hills centre, Dylia was able to complete a course in business studies that led to her acceptance at the Queensland University of Technology, where she has received her dual degree in Social Work and Justice. 

Coincidentally, Dylia, now 23, received her diploma during National Homelessness Week.

The young woman still has a vivid recollection of the hand-written letter given to her by the Carinity Orana staff when she moved out to finish a degree. 

“We know that you will continue to move forward and we know that you have the determination to make things happen for yourself,” those were some of the encouraging words in the letter.

Dylia was a resident of Carinity Orana for four months. Despite the short period, the staff made her feel that she could achieve something with her life. 

“They were never judgemental, and I never felt I had been shamed about my life choices,” said Dylia. “I was trying to figure myself out. I was 16. I had only recently run away from home. They helped me to open up and figure out what I want to do with my life.”

Photo Credit: Supplied. Carinity Orana Program Manager Dave McNair with former managers Nikki Brown, Helen Ford and Kim Bertwhistle at the house which has accommodated around 6,000 homeless youths.

“If you can overcome homelessness, you’ve already done something incredibly difficult,” Dylia added. “If you want to take up a passion or become a doctor, you’re no less talented than anyone else. You are no less deserving of working towards a dream or goal than anyone else.”

For 40 years, Carinity Orana has been helping homeless people between 16 to 21 years old through develop new social networks, secure education, counselling, training, employment, or find more permanent accommodation. Residents usually stay a maximum of six months before they moved to long-term accommodation. 

For enquiries or to support the shelter through donations phone (07) 3261 3969 or visit their official site.

* Name has been changed for privacy reasons.