The smile on four-year-old Madi’s face is a wonderful sign of a future with promise, now that her mum Kristy has celebrated a year of being “clean” from drug addiction.
“I didn’t really know any other way of life,” says Kristy, referring to her own childhood with a mum who was on drugs.
Kristy spent time in foster care as well as periods being raised by her nan. It wasn’t easy.
“But having an ice addiction was the hardest thing ever in my life,” she admits.
When Family and Community Services came knocking after reports about the 31-year-old’s drug use, she knew it was time to get help.
“I can’t live both ways,” Kristy says.
“Having drugs and having her doesn’t mix. That’s what I had to learn.
“I always looked after Madi and she was always cared for but it was me that was messed up. It was me that had to be fixed and needed help.
“I just had to say no and get rid of it out of my life. I was sick and lost.”
Enter Mercy Services Alcohol and Other Drugs Family Worker Sue, who over the past year has become a critical support and community connection in Kristy’s life.
At first that meant driving her to appointments to support the physical healing needed after more than a decade of drug use.
Then over time came parenting courses and many other small steps towards a drug-free, independent life for Kristy and her daughter.
Getting her drivers licence is just one of those achievements.
At any one time, Mercy’s Alcohol and Other Drugs service is helping more than 50 families in our community deal with drugs and alcohol.
Or it might be domestic violence, mental health issues or perhaps poverty.
Now and over the past 23 years, the service has proved a vital connection between government departments and people who need support to improve their circumstances.
“It still takes a while to find out who you really are” says Kristy, smiling at her support counsellor Sue with cautious confidence.
“I know that I’m better off being clean because in the last year I’ve achieved more than I have in my whole life.”