Getting on with life

Jessica Renter Story

*Jessica’s 22-year-old shoulders have carried a lot over her young life. Her lovely calm nature doesn’t reflect the challenges she has faced.

One of six children, Jessica moved regularly as she was growing up: Victoria, NSW, South Australia, the country and the eastern and western suburbs of Melbourne. Jessica explains she learnt to adjust well to different situations and challenges.

“I have realised that I thrive on chaos and change. I don’t dwell on problems. It isn’t going to change anything,” she says.

At 18, Jessica left home and lived in a share house. During this time, she experienced serious back trauma and spent a lot of time in hospital. As a result, she now uses a wheelchair.

Fast forward a few years. Up until December last year, Jessica lived in a private rental caring for her two young nephews. She then found herself in financial crisis; her rent increased by 25%, and her beloved cat Spaghetti required expensive surgery. In addition, she bore the emotional wrench of her nephews moving from her home.

With her savings exhausted and her private rental costs unsustainable, Jessica was at risk of becoming homeless. “I looked at other properties, but they were not accessible. I also contacted a bunch of agencies looking for help. Many of them told me they couldn’t help because I wasn’t yet homeless.”

One agency who was able to help was Uniting Care, who in turn contacted Unison. “It all happened so quickly!” Jessica explains.

“It was so quick from contacting Uniting Care, to receiving a call from Unison inviting me to inspect an accessible property they had available, to moving in. I think it took about a week or so.”

The apartment is perfect for Jessica and her cat companions, Spaghetti and Milkshake. The first thing you notice in Jessica’s neat, homely apartment are her books.  “I have never really been a reader, but I’ve just got into reading, and I absolutely love it.”

Jessica is a strong independent young woman to be admired. Spaghetti, she says, is a challenging cat. But Jessica loves a challenge, and she definitely loves Spaghetti. 

“After everything I have gone through, I know I will get through whatever I have to face,” she says, with Spaghetti sitting comfortably on those broad shoulders.


*not her real name  

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