After some tragic family events in their home state of Western Australia, Max and his mum Scherie moved to Newcastle for a fresh start in 2015. Max was nine years old at the time. It was just the two of them.
In April 2021, Max and his mum Scherie became homeless after the owner of the property they had been renting decided to move back in. Even with an impeccable credit and renting history, it was impossible for them to find affordable accommodation with the impact of the pandemic producing low vacancy rates in the area, rent bidding and hundreds of people competing for properties.
With no family here, Scherie was forced to delve into her superannuation fund to pay for food and temporary accommodation in motels in the local Newcastle area. They weren’t eligible for refuge accommodation because Max was 15 and considered too old..
After six months of living from day to day and doing the best that they could, and with the longest stay in any motel being 3 days, they were finally offered a home in Wickham with Home in Place through the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) program.
Their experience with homelessness was extremely stressful and had a significant impact on both of them, particularly Max who had been dealing with depression for some time now. They were overcome with emotion with the prospect of finally moving into their own place, somewhere with stability, to call home and they are both so grateful to have received this opportunity.
Max is currently in Year 11 and attends the Big Picture Program in Cooks Hill College. He loves the school, and their unique project-based learning style suits him. He has a whole new lease on life and his major project in 2021 was producing a game show. Through this project, he was required to demonstrate the use of mathematics, English, and science to acquit his curriculum.
Max is also completing his Cert II in Hospitality at school and is holding down three part time jobs at local cafes and a hotel. He is keen to learn about the hospitality industry and gain valuable experience, but he is also aware that the money he does earn helps his mother and their day to day living. Max has organised a saving plan for himself and has 40% of his wage going into savings and the rest is for day-today spending for himself.
Max was referred to Grow a Star for assistance with his education. He didn’t have a computer and was often required to stay late at school or borrow his girlfriend’s computer to complete assignments. Max has a passion for the arts, specifically writing and producing short films and having a computer is essential for his education.
Through the Grow a Star program, Max has received a $2,000 scholarship from Collective Heart, to purchase his computer and other requirements he may have while completing his education. Max is committed to finishing years 11 & 12 at Cooks Hill and his hospitality qualifications before realising his dream to travel the world and document his travels through writing, podcasts, film and photography.
Max says “I’m not sure what I want to do yet, I’m only 16, but working my way around the world in the hospitality sector will be a great opportunity to broaden my horizons and it’s the first part of my overall plan once I’ve finished school and my apprenticeship.”