Automatic language translation
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Amber: I've learned a lot from Harry. Respect is huge and to understand and sit with the young person when they're going through such a difficult time and to know that it's not who they are, it is what they're going through and that's okay.
Harry: So first time I met Amber I was in the refuge. It was just extremely volatile. Everything was on edge. Everyone was just... I didn't want to be there. I wanted somewhere safer because it wasn't a safe environment. It's a place that no child should grow up. The day Amber walked into my refuge, I felt very nervous meeting somebody new of course.
Amber: He blew me away pretty much straight away. He was quite articulate and quite respectful young man. One of the things I talked to Harry about was that I understand how difficult it is to meet strangers and Harry said actually, thank you for saying that because it is difficult, and he said that he respected that. I feel like that was probably a moment where we actually connected, and I wanted to show him that I was there, and I cared and understood how he was feeling. It was a very hard time for him. I didn't want Harry to have to retell his story over and over and over again, so I did my research and I spoke to as many people that I could. I looked at Harry's history. I wanted to see it from that perspective, but really understand truly how Harry was feeling and from his own words and his own story. It's not just a black and white situation. It's just a lot of grey and I wanted to work and get things done for him, but I also wanted to make sure that you know we had alternate plans as well. I knew Harry needed to get out of where he was in the refuge. It wasn't a home. I spoke to as many people that I could, and we looked outside the box. I knew that Harry had strong connections with people in his core network. We searched for family. We actually got in contact with his paternal family in England and we've finally had an opportunity to get back in contact with his dad. Despite the distance, it appears that they've actually built up a really lovely relationship. Paternal family was a little bit too far away from him and Harry said strongly to me that this is where I belong, this is my community, and this is where I need to be.
Harry: It was really quite a miracle. I never thought of it as a possibility to be honest. I’ve been told time again, that nobody fosters teenage boys because they're too rowdy or don't do as they're told but it's not the case.
Amber: One of the things that really struck me, was this conversation Harry and I had. Harry asked what unconditional love was? That's what I want. I want unconditional love. You know, I'm not a bad person, that's what he would say. I was very strength focused with him and I think it took him a long time to understand that it's okay to hear positive things. He just wanted people to not give up just because something bad had happened and I think that's what he's found where he is now.
Harry: The change from family to refuge meant, that I actually had avenues waiting and that I could rely on somebody else, and some people think that's weak, but it's just not. Sometimes you need somebody there to tell you, it's okay, to tell, you can get through the day.
Amber: I'm extremely proud of Harry. He takes things on and he's actually he's chosen to become a DCJ consultant for other young people who have been struggling. He's empowering not only himself but other people and it's just amazing to see. Family, community, work, whatever it is, he puts 110 percent in, and I think that's something that I've seen in him. A big, big change is that he's grown a lot.
Harry: I think it's really important for a young person to feel like they're listened to, not to be told. The best way to navigate a relationship with a young person is to be upfront and honest with what they can and cannot receive because telling them they can and they're not, it just ruins it all. Amber has followed through in everything she's said and done throughout my time with her. It's just meant so much to me. It's just it's such a special thing to know that she does care.
20 Dec 2022
We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future.
Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.
You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.