Alex experienced rough sleeping for 10 years in Melbourne. Home now, she is finding herself through stability and art. Watch her story.
I'd actually gotten to the point of just going, this is my life now. I will die on these streets eventually.
Hi, I'm Alex, and I've had lived experience of homelessness in Melbourne.
I was born in Scotland, moved over to Australia when I was five. I love Australia, but I'm very sort of European in a lot of ways.
I grew up in a small country town, but even as a kid I always wanted to move down to Melbourne because Melbourne's a very European city. So soon as I could, I did.
My life had already become a bit of a struggle. I have always dealt with mental health issues of anxiety and depression.
I came down and I was staying in a backpackers, with the thought of doing some art but was obviously running low on money straight away. Art supplies are expensive and I had no friends to turn to, and that's where it led then to eventually having no cash... and the first time hitting the streets, and sleeping rough.
I was scared out of my mind...The choice of sleeping on a very busy street in the center of Melbourne that was always lit and there was always people walking around, was because I just figured if something happens, hopefully maybe somebody will help in some way.
I didn't sleep. I was just lying there nervous. Very, very cold. It was the wintertime here in Melbourne. I think people forget how cold it is at three in the morning on the streets of Melbourne in winter.
The time was 10 years altogether, off and on. But the last period was four years straight living on the streets until finally getting off.
It was walking into emergency room of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and first time ever in my life, asking for help which led me to being connected with a case worker at Launch Housing.
They got me into the H2H program and it took a little while, but from there, that got me a home, got me set up again, and I've been there year now.
It is very weird. It actually took me about six months to really settle in there, feel comfortable and not nervous, and I started putting up pictures and, and frames on the wall and buying things for the house and working on the garden.
I feel safe. I don't feel like I'm ever going back to the streets anymore.
Now things have been getting just better and better at my home and in my life, as I was willing to ask for help.
I've been thinking about this a lot over the last year, about being a member of the LGBTI community.
I'm transgender, and I kept saying to people that I don't think being transgender had anything to do with me becoming homeless and living on the streets. But I've been looking back and it obviously does have a major part to do with it because again, that was part of the whole anxiety and depression of me not being myself. Feeling literally uncomfortable walking down the street because I think people are looking at me because I feel like I'm in the wrong skin.
I'm slowly becoming who I wanna be in the world, which helps with that.
I'm getting to do my art again. I feel in control of my own life again, and I feel like I have a life moving forward.
Melbourne, zero homelessness is possible.