With regular shifts at a busy North Coast pub, a car, a recently acquired driver’s licence and a can-do attitude 20-year-old Sandy* is well set up for a great beginning to her working career.

But, not so long ago, Sandy’s family life was threatening to overshadow her ambitions.

Sandy lives with her mother and brother in social housing in Tweed Shire. Her domestic situation is complicated by the threat of ongoing domestic violence from an estranged family member.  Sandy lives with social anxiety and self-confidence issues.


Despite her mental health challenges, and although she’s occupied as her mother’s official carer, Sandy was keen to join the workforce and expand her horizons.

And it was with this goal in mind that her mother referred her to the Social Futures’ program Opportunity Pathways late last year.

Opportunity Pathways is a NSW government-funded program that aims to support those living in social housing to find training and employment. They also link participants with complex needs to a wide array of support services.

Over the following months Sandy’s program worker, Rachel, connected the family with specialised domestic violence assistance and helped Sandy to get her driver’s licence. She also introduced her to an equine therapy course that works to help participants with anxiety, confidence and motivational challenges.

Sandy says it was important to have Rachel’s support, “(she) encouraged me every time I doubted myself, telling me ‘I can do it!’”

Since working with Opportunity Pathways there have been some important changes in Sandy’s life.  Stronger communication with the family has seen them work on ways to stop the domestic violence and, with the help of a specialist agency, Social Futures saw that security at the family home was upgraded. 

And, after saving hard, Sandy bought a car.

Most exciting of all, she recently completed a trial with a well-known hotel in the region.  Opportunity Pathways supported a nervous Sandy, helping build her confidence and assisting with fuel to get to and from her house.

The trial went well.  Sandy got the job!

Sandy has grown in self-confidence too. “I feel a lot stronger than a year ago. A year ago I didn’t think I could achieve much and now I know I can.”

* Not her real name.

You can learn more about Opportunity Pathways by visiting their website www.socialfutures.org.au/opportunity-pathways/, emailing [email protected] or calling on (02) 6620 1800. 

 “I feel a lot stronger than a year ago. A year ago I didn’t think I could achieve much and now I know I can.”


Opportunity Pathways participant

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