“Everything is different now, even just little things; the way I hold myself, the way I dress. Back then I wouldn’t wear makeup at all and now I’m the opposite – on the weekends, I do not leave the house without putting my face on! I’m sassy now and I have gotten a lot stronger inside.”

When Zoe* suddenly fled a violent relationship, she hopped on a train to Brisbane from the Gold Coast and with nowhere to go, headed straight for the BYS Hub in the Valley.

“I literally had nothing, just a small bag of clothes and no money… I was really lost as well, because I was still in the closet and I was transitioning… I ended up spending another month on the streets,” Zoe said.

It was familiar ground for Zoe, who was first connected with BYS as a 16-year-old  when she was sleeping rough in Brisbane, but this time around, life was a little different. Feeling “lost and confused”, Zoe  was struggling with her gender identity and coming out to her family and friends.

“BYS supported me a lot financially and with food and they put me up in hotels here and there… clothes and things like that; it was just having them there, someone to lean on when things got too hard. That’s what helped push me and kept me going (to find my job),” Zoe said.

As well as helping her with essentials and temporary accommodation, Zoe  said BYS played a big part in helping her to find the confidence to be herself.

“I have more faith in myself now. The first time I wore a dress was here (at BYS) and I was freaking out, it was the scariest thing. My BYS Youth Support Worker is amazing; just having someone there backing you. It makes you feel unstoppable, you know?”

Just a few months later Zoe, a self-confessed car fanatic, is living in a share-house and working at a car detailer – doing a job she loves.

“I’m still involved with BYS even though I don’t need the support anymore… these were the people that were there for me when I had nothing. It’s nice… to let them know ‘Hey, I’m still here and I’m still doing well’,” she said.

“I used to drive a 420 horsepower Falcon… I drive really bogan looking cars that are manly and then this glam sister gets out of the driver’s seat. That’s exactly what used to give me anxiety but now it fuels me.

“If I didn’t come to BYS I’d still be on the streets… on drugs, or in jail or dead. What does the future hold now? I’m going to have to get a bigger make-up kit.”

*At Brisbane Youth Service we respect everyone who comes to us for help and many are working towards a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, some young people’s names have been changes to protect their privacy.

I’m still involved with BYS even though I don’t need the support anymore… these were the people that were there for me when I had nothing.
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