I consider myself a proficient public transport user, but when I went to Melbourne for the first time I was like a deer in the headlights. Staring at tram maps, trying to figure out which way was up, which line should I take, where should I get off, am I even going in the right direction!? Maybe you can relate?

Imagine that feeling, now add the inability to speak the language, limited access to technology and having no contacts in the city. Next add the layers of complexity that come with having experienced slavery; fear, trauma, a shift from your movements being controlled to complete autonomy, but unsure how to operate in this new found freedom. That is what our survivors experience every time they walk out their front door. Simply accessing public transport can be a battle, let along engaging in a class, excursion or appointment.

At the Survivor School we aim to make this transition as easy as possible. We meet new students in locations they are familiar with and do the public transport journey with them, showing them how it all works, and repeating this as many times as needed until their confidence has increased. We provide Opal cards so they can attend classes, for many public transport is a luxury they can’t afford.

Recently a survivor had to meet me in a new location, the journey involved a train, bus and walk. We were unable to meet and do the journey together but she decided she wanted to try and find her way on her own. She courageously navigated the public transport system (without google maps!), she confidently asked for directions and made her way to the activity location.

When I saw her she was beaming with pride, as I congratulated her on making it she told me she wanted to challenge herself even if it was going to be difficult. Her ability to do this task on her own has increased her confidence and she is ready for more new adventures.

It these seemingly small wins that we love at The Freedom Hub. They are the building blocks on the path to confident and independent living.