Rachael’s story – a new life rising from the ashes


Rachael, her daughter Kate, and their much loved dogs were left homeless following a house fire that took their every possession, along with the security and sanctuary of a home they’d always known.

In the months following the fire, Rachael tried desperately to keep her family together. Initially, friends took them in and Rachael and Kate spent many nights couch surfing but it was not a long-term solution and it didn’t provide Kate the stability she needed to flourish at school.

When the generosity of friends began to wane, Rachael was able to secure a room in a boarding house but this too presented many challenges; two people and two dogs in a single room was not the life Rachael wanted for her daughter and while it provided a roof over their heads, the boarding house was far from a home. In desperation, Rachael began to face the hard reality of surrendering their dogs.

“The day I had to surrender our dogs was one of the lowest moments of my life. These dogs were our family and giving them up took away my hope of returning to life as we knew it, in our own home and with our family united. “Looking back though, the loss of our dogs made me more determined than ever to find a safe haven for Kate to recover. We needed help and a positive place to live so that we could find some normality and get Kate back to school. I needed to show her that we could rise from this and build a future” said Rachael.

This was the moment that led Rachael to Jenny’s Place. She had been supported by Jenny’s Place previously and she knew she’d find safety and solutions with the help of our casework team.

Rachael and Kate were assigned a case worker and accommodated at Jenny’s Place Families Refuge, marking the beginning of their new life. With Kate back at school, Rachael was determined to find a job to re-establish their financial independence.
Her meticulousness around the refuge did not go unnoticed and the commercial cleaning company that keeps Jenny’s Place spaces clean and tidy quickly offered Rachael a spot on their team!

Rachael was working hard and building confidence every day. With the encouragement of her caseworker, Rachael signed up for the Zahra Foundation Pathways To Empowerment program and immediately started applying the knowledge she’d gained – breaking down the challenges and setting herself achievable goals for the future she was so determined to create.

These new found skills led to the next step in Rachael’s journey: a qualification with her name on it. Now enrolled at TAFE and well on her way to achieving an Independent Living Assistant qualification, Rachael is working towards her goals and showing her daughter that anything is possible.

The sudden, life changing loss that Rachael and Kate experienced the night of the fire cannot be understated but in spite of that trauma, they are making incredible progress. They’ve now settled into one of Jenny’s Place transitional properties as they commence their search for a permanent home.


“We are so grateful to Jenny’s Place for supporting us through this really difficult time and for providing us a new home. Kate is bringing friends home after school just as she used to and to our surprise, one of the dogs we surrendered was still being cared for at Newcastle Dog Rescue! We were so lucky to be re-united with him and together, we’re re-building our life. It’s definitely an exciting time for us and our future looks better than I’d ever imagined” said Rachael.


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Names have been changed to protect client privacy.

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