When Kyla, 19, found out that she'd been accepted into Red Cross Young Parents Program, she said she cried with relief and happiness. "If it wasn't for Red Cross, I don't know where I'd be now" she says, her voice breaking with emotion. "I would be on the street, I think. I could have had my daughter taken away from me."
Throughout her childhood things were very unpredictable for Kyla, as her parents struggled with drug and alcohol use. "I didn't talk for ages when I was a baby. I was always being yelled at" she remembers. "I had to wear long sleeves to school, because of the bruises."
Finally, after an incident where her father and brother punched, shook and kicked her, Kyla ran away from home and took shelter in a refuge. She was just 15 years old.
When Kyla met her partner, Paul, and fell pregnant with daughter Isabella, now two years of age, they both struggled with the pressures of becoming parents so young. "It was so hard just trying to be a mum, to know how to put her into a routine, how to provide her with the right experiences through life and to keep her alive," she says.
Joining Red Cross Young Parents Program helped Kyla and Paul to turn things around. They were supported to a secure their own place to live for up to two years, they received tailor-made, intensive support from their case manager Rachel, and a weekly program of groups to develop their parenting skills, living skills and education.
They're supported to build their skills and confidence to parent their children, manage relationships with others, budget, find employment, plan and set goals for the future. Staff and volunteers support them with their studies, assist them to recognise their own strengths and abilities, and ensure best outcomes for their children.
"All I knew growing up was drug abuse and domestic violence. I didn't want Isabella to grow up like that. Now I've learned how to break the cycle. I've learned how to live a better life. I've learned that just because I had a bad life doesn't mean that my child will have" she beams.
Image is a stock image and names have been changed to protect privacy