Mirabel Stories

"All these years I never knew there were so many children like me. It feels good to know I'm not alone."
- Kitty, 14 years

Kitty is 14 years old and been living with her Nan and Pop for the past year. Kitty’s Dad died suddenly when she was 10. No one ever explained to Kitty how her Dad had died but she remembers being picked up from school by a neighbour and staying at their house until her Mum collected her late that night. Kitty has only recently started talking about that time.

Kitty’s Mum started to behave differently and started isolating herself from friends and family after her Dad died. Kitty thought it was somehow her fault that her Dad had died and that her Mum blamed her. Whatever she did nothing seemed to make it better. Sometimes her Mum would stay away all day and night but Kitty didn’t tell anyone in case it made her Mum angrier.

Kitty’s Mum died from a drug overdose when Kitty was 13. She knew as soon as she saw her Pop waiting outside the school that something dreadful had happened. She stayed with her grandparents that night and has been with them ever since. They have always told Kitty that none of this was her fault and how much her parents loved her but she is only just beginning to believe it. Through meeting other Mirabel children Kitty is realising there are lots of children like her. Her sad memories will never completely disappear but with the help of grief counselling she’s now able to talk about those times and feels some excitement for the years ahead.

Since moving in with her grandparents Kitty has been to school every day, something that was too difficult to achieve before. She and her Nan are planning a party for her 15th birthday – this will be the first birthday party she has had.

"I have heaps of fun with the other children at Mirabel. It feels good to be happy and forget about your worries for a while."
- Sherad, 11 years

Sherad has been attending Mirabel’s therapeutic children’s group for the past 8 months. At first he found it hard to mix with the other children and he was shy and reserved.

He had witnessed a lot of violence when his Mum was alive and saw his Dad shoot his Mum in a drug induced fight. It was his job to call the ambulance and shield his three younger sisters from the trauma.

He feels safe now that he lives with his grandparents and they take him to see his Dad in prison each month. His Dad talks about being together again but Sherad knows that he will be an adult before his Dad is out of prison.

Sherad’s grandparents say that he has relaxed a lot since starting in the Mirabel group. He talks of friends and fun times where he is able to be a child for a while. When he comes home the happiness continues as he resumes his role as big brother. He is responsible and old beyond his years but he now has a place to go where he feels comfortable enough to share his experiences and dream about a happy future.

"My Daddy is always sick and his medicine makes him sleepy."
- Tahana, 3 years

Tahana is 3 years old and has recently moved to live with her great aunt Ruby. Her Mum is in prison for drug-related crime and her Dad is unable to care for her due to his addiction to drugs.

Tahana knows a lot for a 3 year old and has remarkable survival skills. She can find a way to reach food in the highest of cupboards and can work her aunt’s phone like a teenager.

Ruby was asked to care for Tahana when Child Protection found her wandering the streets looking for food. Ruby is committed to the long-term health and happiness of Tahana and says that she wants her to have a normal childhood.

She has started attending Mirabel’s Kinship Carer Support Groups where she has met lots of people in a similar situation to herself. Tahana and Ruby spent a cherished weekend together at Mirabel House where they strengthened their relationship away from the stresses of day to day living.

They are looking forward to the next Family Day where Tahana can begin to make friends with children just like her – friendships that Ruby hopes will continue when Tahana joins Mirabel’s Therapeutic Children’s Groups.

"Mirabel is a beacon of hope for children and their families. From its inception it has inspired me with the compassion, the sensitivity and the optimism it offers. A child is not seen as a ‘client’ of a service but as a precious individual belonging to a family and a community. All of the research on resilience, self‐efficacy and intervening early in the life of children supports what Mirabel does."
- Emeritus Professor Dorothy Scott OAM, Australian Centre for Child Protection

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