‘My Dream To Become A Nurse Was In Jeopardy.’ – Nurses Need Affordable Housing

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The need for affordable housing is an ever-growing issue and can affect all workers and can lead to dramatic career changes. Who would be left to care for us if nurses and midwives can’t afford to live near hospitals? One nurse reached out to us to share their story.

I worked in another public sector job before I decided I wanted to change my career to nursing. Thankfully, I was lucky to be chosen for an EEN scholarship. Halfway through my studies my ex-partner became violent and I had found myself sobbing in my manager’s office. I had to leave but was too frightened to even go and get my things. All I had was my nursing text books with no clothes to wear.

I found myself drifting from place to place, sleeping at my daughter’s, my parents and finally in some nurses’ quarters. The room was $110 per week and at the time I was on Austudy so I would eat cheap meals like breakfast cereal just to fill up my belly. I could no longer continue in my job as I needed to finish my nursing studies which had only 6 months left to go.

Things were going okay until one day the door of my room had been opened by other nurses who were having a look around and seemed to think it was some sort of joke, not even apologizing for bursting into my room at 7am while I was asleep.

Then it happened again. It was too much.

I searched on some websites and found a local shelter to take me in. I told them my story and how I was worried about what to do. My dream to become a nurse was in jeopardy. I waited a few weeks before I got the call that I would be offered temporary housing for up to a year. After a quick interview, I was accepted.

It meant more sacrifices, driving hundreds of kilometres to get to TAFE and my placement at a hospital for 5 weeks. I couldn’t have done it without the shelter organising petrol vouchers for me but I was still eating breakfast cereal. Once I was finished with my studies I was offered a full-time position at my local hospital in the Surgical Ward. It was then I was able to find private accommodation where I had to spend more than half my wages on rent. But I was back in control.

That was several years ago and now I work in the Emergency Department at the same hospital. It was a tough road and at the time my self-esteem was in tatters. To make matters worse, I was the victim of bullying while working in ED when I first started. I raised my history of domestic violence with my manager but they just said perhaps I was a target as I may not have addressed my issues from the past. Although I didn’t receive the support I would have liked from my manager, they did give me EAP number to call for counselling.

It didn’t help much with the bullying but it put me on the road to building my self-worth again. Now I am stronger than ever before and stand up to anyone who decides I’m an easy target. And when I see a new nurse start I try and show my support for them as who knows what they have been through in life.

What’s your experience with affordable housing? We’d like to share your story too: nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au

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