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Six months ago Alicia Morphett-Edwards
was living on the streets in suburban
Adelaide, her night-time abode a park, a
public building or a toilet block.
Caught in a downward spiral of drugs,
unemployment and bad relationships, the
26-year-old was too ashamed to seek help
from family and preferred to “go solo” in
the southern suburbs she was familiar with
rather than join the homeless community in
In the end, it was the need for a free meal
that took her to the Hutt St Centre where
she was assigned a case manager who,
within two days, found her emergency
accommodation at Catherine House and
then Unity Boarding House.
Today Alicia rents a unit in Keswick, is
working between 20 and 40 hours in the
kitchen of the Warradale Hotel and is one
of the Hutt St Centre’s biggest advocates,
having participated in a video promoting
an innovative new social bond scheme
launched last month. (see separate story)
She was even presented with an Inspiring
Achievers Award by the Hutt St Centre at
Government House on February 15 and
has been described by the agency’s CEO
Ian Cox as “the most amazing person I’ve
For Alicia, it’s about showing other people
like her who have been through hardship
that they can find help.
“I want to play my part for the community,”
she said just prior to her day shift at the
“By telling my story I might help other
people to realise they can find people who
are willing to help them.”
She said she “teared up” when she saw
the video because it made her realise how
many people could be helped by obtaining
funds that would provide investment in
assistance for a homeless person over
three years, not three months as happens
In the video, she explains how the Pathway
to Employment program resulted in her
gaining part-time employment at Café 12 in
Halifax Street and made a huge difference
to her life. “Having a job is amazing,”
she said. “To be able to get back to
work, to be needed, to feel that sense of
accomplishment is excellent, I couldn’t be
While Alicia has received vital support from
agencies like Hutt St Centre and Catherine
House, she has also showed remarkable
resilience and a determination to get back
on her feet.
Realising she needed more income to
pay the rent, she cold-called numerous
hospitality venues and finally did a trial
shift at the Warradale Hotel last October.
This went well and after several follow-up
phone calls by Alicia, she began washing
dishes in December and steadily increased
her hours. When she was given the
opportunity to work with the chef, the Hutt
St Centre helped her purchase a uniform
and knife set and she hopes to be able to
study hospitality in the future.
She also is working in food vans for the
Hutt St Centre at the Fringe in Rymill Park.
Alicia was only 16 when she left her home
in the South-East town of Millicent. She
dropped out of school part-way through
Year 9 and completed Year 10 through
Open Access College.
“For me, home involved drugs and
violence, so it was easier for me to get out
of that situation,” she explained.
“My grandparents took me under their
wing, they were overwhelmingly loving.”
She worked at a bakery while living
with them at Seacombe Gardens and
after about six years moved in with her
Her grandparents have since died and it
was their passing that contributed to the
toughest period of her life.
“I got involved in activities that took me
down the wrong path – drugs, alcohol,
“I detached myself from family and friends
and became comfortable with living under
a building or in a park.”
Asked if she was ever scared, Alicia said
she lost her sense of fear and was more
afraid to “do something for myself”.
At one point, after she tried to commit
suicide, her father picked her up from the
hospital and took her back to Millicent
but she hitchhiked back to Adelaide. After
running out of places to couch surf, she
slept in toilets, outside public buildings
or in parks. Once she was so cold she
wrapped herself in toilet paper.
“I couldn’t stop taking Ice, I’d stay up all
night so I could be intoxicated by drugs,”
There were moments of kindness, such
as when two women saw her sleeping
in the doorway of a library and went and
fetched a blanket for her, or the mother and
daughter who brought toast and coffee to
her in the park one morning.
“That was really nice,” she said.
Alicia said she never expected to be
homeless. “Sometimes it’s something that
just happens due to choices you make, the
people you surround yourself with.”
While she has reconnected with family
members, particularly her aunt and sister,
she is careful not to return to friendships
that might be harmful for her.
“I just want to be able to appreciate the
achievements I have made, I’m really proud
of what I’ve been able to do,” she said. “If I
go back to my friends, they might still have
a negative mentality and not appreciate
what I’ve done.”
View the video featuring Alicia at www.
From the streets
to helping others
By Jenny Brinkworth
FRESH START: Alicia is enjoying working in the kitchen at the Warradale Hotel.
Mercedes College is looking for suitable families as Homestay
accommodation providers for our International Students.
Students are aged between 15 and 18 and are looking to
experience an Australian family lifestyle while studying.
Homestay is a deeply rewarding experience and families
are generously recompensed $270/week.
Enquire now to become a Homestay family by contacting:
Robyn Halliday on 8372 3200 firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit www.mercedes.catholic.edu.au search: Homestay
540 Fullarton Road, Springfield SA Telephone 08 8372 3200
Mercedes College is a co-educational, Reception to Year 12
Catholic school in the Mercy tradition, providing a caring
and supportive learning environment.
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