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Imagine a life where you have no choice but to live on the streets every day and hope that you are safe every night without knowing what could happen. For most of us, homelessness is entirely unimaginable. Unfortunately, this was the reality for Greg*, 43, and many others living rough in our Northern Rivers communities.

It was in 2019 when our Assertive Outreach team patrolled the streets in Tweed Heads, which usually happens every week. Momentum Collective’s Outreach team noticed Greg* was sleeping rough at the park behind the Tweed Heads library. The Assertive Outreach squad took time to understand his situation, from living in his van in 2012 to experiencing a life-changing accident in 2014 that forced him to sleep on the streets of the popular holiday destination.

The young man needed assistance in finding temporary accommodation. The Momentum team supported Greg* in securing emergency housing and long-term housing. Greg* saw his life transform, and the impossible soon became the ‘imaginable.

During his engagement with Momentum’s team, Greg* was linked to a psychologist to support his emotional health after experiencing deep stress and numerous obstacles during his journey of homelessness. He was directed to a pain management program to assist with his chronic pain and dental care for his dentures. Focusing on his wellbeing was a key goal. Greg’s* participation in a surf therapy program opened his world to practice mindfulness as a coping mechanism whenever he feels stressed.

Greg* was able to overcome the trauma of homelessness and achieve his basic needs of housing, medical and mental health and start to look at bigger dreams for his life and wellbeing. Reuniting with his immediate family overseas in South Africa was all he could think of as it had been twenty years since Greg hugged his mum, dad and the rest of his family.

Being connected with his Assertive Outreach Case Workers, Greg* future dreams became his reality. Momentum’s Case Workers, Ramesh and Ciara, scheduled weekly meetings with Greg* to thoroughly go through each step of the requirements to travel overseas and to ensure the experience was smooth for him. From assisting with passport and visa documentation to helping Greg apply for his visa to return to Australia.

“It’s incredible to see a long-term goal of Greg’s come to fruition. Having worked with Greg for over two years, I know that family reunification is something he has dreamt of for a long time. By addressing Greg’s housing and health needs, we were able to support him to achieve this goal”, says Momentum Case Worker, Ciara Lennon.

Following Greg’s momentous trip booked for last August, he stayed motivated by budgeting enough money to save from his disability support pension. He managed to pay for his flights and enough funds for a 3-month stay with his family overseas. It was an emotional reunion for Greg and his loved ones, and it was evident what a positive impact this overdue visit home brought them.

“There are no words of appreciation I could use to convey our families’ heartfelt thanks to Ramesh and Ciara. These two amazing people have given us back our son, and both went above and beyond to assist Greg in getting his life back on track. Thanks to their dedication, he now has a life, home, and identity,” says Greg’s mother.

The future is bright for Greg as he has a secure long-term social housing property to come home to after his trip, and he has a plan in place to continue engaging with a psychologist and persistent pain specialist. We are excited to report that he’s next goal is to apply for Australia Citizenship.

Gregs* name has been changed to protect his identity.

If your tenancy is at risk, or you are currently sleeping rough or in your car, staying with friends, or living in overcrowded or unsafe homes, contact us for help on 1800 387 867. or visit our Specialist Homelessness Service for more information.