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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > Housing > Homelessness > Homelessness Week > Homelessness Prevention Week 2015 > Case studies > Norman's story

Norman's story

A chance question during a visit to a health care service has given Norman a home – and ended 16 years of couch surfing.

The 46-year-old has been in his own unit in Mareeba, on the Atherton Tablelands west of Cairns, for 12 months now.

“It’s a home and I’ve made it my own,” he said. “It has my own personal touches and I’m proud of it when people drop by to see me.”

The changes started when he was asked by a health care worker if he knew about a housing program, Street to Home’s “Moving Forward”.

“I had never heard of it,” he said. “They asked me if I would be happy for them to make a referral for me as it could help me find a home.

“A housing support worker called and invited me in to meet … from this point on, life has slowly started to turn around.”

A big turnaround.

Norman was raised in a small country town about three hours south of Mareeba.

“My family lived in and around Mareeba and I found myself drawn to this area to be closer to them,” he said.

“Mareeba has been my home now for more than 24 years.”

However, for about 16 of those, Norman was homeless.

“Home for me was moving back and forth from family member to family member,” he said. “Couch surfing …”

Norman, who has Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander heritage, said having no home was disconcerting and eventually affected his health.

“I felt unsettled – lost, most of the time,” he said. “It could be scary at times, not knowing where you are going to sleep each night.”

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

“My health was suffering, and my family were getting sick of me, too, always wanting to stay with them,” he said. “It played on my mind and made me feel down.”

Then came the faithful visit to the health service and referral to Street to Home.

“Finding a suitable house – one that I could afford – wasn’t a quick thing, but in the long run I got a home and it’s my place,” he said.

“My housing support worker guided me and I completed a lot of short development programs that I think have helped me to clear my head.

“I think about some of the information that the trainers gave us and it’s real good stuff. I still use it now.”

Last updated 03 August 2015    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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