Peter’s story

Peter’s Story:

By Wendy* (Citizen Advocate)


This is a story about, not a lost boy, but rather a forgotten man. Peter* was 62 when he first came timidly to Citizen Advocacy Western Sydney (CAWS ). He did not come alone but was brought by his friend Roy* who was already involved with CAWS.

As soon as Peter returned to the farm where he lived, he went and told the staff what he and his friend had done, afraid that he would get in trouble. Peter had lived in the farm for over thirty years and was liked by staff and other residents, or as the staff of the farm would say “by the boys”. Yes at 62 Peter was being called a boy by people half his age.

Two years later Peter once again approached CAWS and that’s where I come into this story. I became Peter’s crisis advocate and my job was to check that Peter was O.K. about moving into the community. He wanted to live in a flat with Roy. Peter and I discussed this many times before I started to look at assisting him to move.

The first thing we did was to open a bank account for Peter. This wasn’t easy, as Peter did not have any identification documents except for pension and Medicare cards.

I approached several services about teaching Peter living skills but they all stated that he had to first live in the community. After getting a verbal agreement from one service that they would assist Peter when he moved into their area, Peter and I put in an application with the Department of Housing.

While we waited, Peter and I started to look at units to rent. After some time we located a two bedroom unit in the Holroyd area which was close to shops and transport. However, as we signed the papers Roy moved to a transitional group home and Peter had to pay most of his pension on his rent.

The other problem with the move was that Peter was on the wrong side of the tracks, literally, and the service that had said they would assist was not able to as Peter was out of area. The first two services that I was able to get for Peter were Meals on Wheels and Neighbour Aid. Peter was getting filling, cheap food and a visitor every second weekend. Peter WAS  on a number of waiting lists for services.

Kaye (CAWS manager) put Peter and I onto Wesley Mission. A worker there helped Peter to get on the priority list with the Department of Housing. Not only on the priority listing but also at the top of the list. Kaye also found another transitional living service that had a vacancy. While Kaye was spreading her magic, I had finally gotten Peter some assistance.

Twice a week Peter was receiving living skills training. The transitional living service that Kaye put us onto offered Peter a place in a three bedroom house in Northmead. Two weeks later the Department of Housing offered him a place as well. We deferred the unit offered by the Department of Housing and Peter was getting the amount and quality of support he required to live (mostly) independently in the community six months after he left the farm.

Peter is now living in a one room Department of Housing unit in Parramatta. He receives limited support from his service that still see him regularly. Recently he was introduced to his long-term advocates, a husband and wife and their children. For the first time he has a family (Peter grew up in orphanages). One of the first things he told Kaye before meeting this family was that they could not have any say in how he spends his money. So my timid Peter is now a confident man. A confident man who has so many friends they he now turns down social invitations. He even saved up recently and went on holidays ALONE over the Easter Weekend, to a resort in the Blue Mountains. He has purchased new clothes and new furniture to replace the second hand furniture we purchased last year.

He still rings me (we’re still friends aren’t we Wendy?) After the year and a half we spent together the answer is yes, but it’s a tired, and a joyous yes. Yes, Peter we will always be friends.



* names have been changed to protect people’s privacy