"Im 18 now, my mum passed away when I was 10 and I was going through a rough patch with my life, in and out of the detention centre, and I was a ward of the state and then I started to clear my act up when I was about 16."
Joshua* had multiple stints in Ashley from the age of 10 after falling into the youth criminal cycle when his mum died and any support he once had around he died with her.
The structures many are afforded in youth were non-existent, and it is easy to see how he fell into crime.
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"From the ages of 10 and onwards I had to figure out how will I get food tonight? How am I going to cook? I don't even know how to cook," he said.
Joshua is a smart guy. He knows he made many mistakes as a boy, but he knows he has now grown into a young man keen to get his life back on track.
"At the age of 17 I got to the goal I wanted, I hadn't been in Ashley for a year and I was doing really well," he said.
"Now I've been out for nearly two years and I haven't offended for a long time."
When Joshua was around 16 he said engaged with child services to find long-term accommodation for himself, so that he could start to rebuild those structures - literally and figuratively - that had contributed to him falling into a cycle of crime.
It is almost two years later and he is still looking for that accommodation.
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He said there have been points that trying to build on the rehabilitation he has gone through has felt pointless, and that falling back into the system was something that would be easier than trying to do the right thing.
At Ashley it was three meals each day, a roof over your head each night and stability and knowing that you weren't going to be homeless.Joshua
Joshua now gets by with his partner Macy*. He cannot say he lives with her, because they have not been able to find a long-term home to live in for the entirety of their relationship.
Battling to stay together and maintain acceptance and belonging, if only from one another, Joshua and Macy have couch-surfed, lived rough and gotten by on the kindness of strangers.
The latest stranger to help them out was Kirsty Holmberg. Ms Holmberg is passionate about young people and volunteers herself to help out where she can.
In this case it was assisting them until they could find their own place.
Ms Holmberg said Joshua and Macy had been with her over the New Year period which proved to be the most difficult time yet in pursuit of accommodation.
"I first met them just after Christmas and as soon as I met them I started calling all of the accommodation places and all of them were closed from Christmas Eve until January 4," she said.
Ms Holmberg said it was devastating to see the pair struggle through trying to find a place to stay, or even just get by in their day to day life without being judged.
"People aren't letting them move on. Everyone judges their past. The public's perception of these sorts of kids is such a big issue," she said.
People aren't letting them move on. Everyone judges their past. The public's perception of these sorts of kids is such a big issue.Kirsty Holmerg
Joshua said he and Macy had committed to making up for mistakes they made as children, but Ms Holmberg said she was continually witnessing the futility of a system that claims rehabilitation but offers no stability going forward.
"Parents of these kids have been through the system themselves and the cycle is just passed down through generations," she said.
"The fact is that they're kids and we are expecting them to be adults, and expecting them to make adult decisions, but they've never been taught how to make those decisions by adults.
Joshua agreed that it was like the system was trying to bring him back into it. Personally, with no mum and no relationship with a father, he had nowhere to go.
"It's because of institutionalisation. You get out and what is there for people in this system? They get out and they're revolving around all their mates places because they've got nowhere to live and eventually they just get sick of it," he said.
They're sick of f***ing around, sick of looking for food, and they just go 'f*** it'. It's really sad, it's just, it's sad.Joshua*
The latest government figures released showed that the waiting list for public housing had blown out to nearly 64 weeks. This time last year that wait was 61 weeks.
Housing Minister Roger Jaensch told The Examiner, throughout Launceston, there was also the capacity to accommodate over 230 people in crisis accommodation.
"Housing Connect also has capacity to broker people experiencing homelessness into motels and cabins statewide as a short term solution, whilst longer term outcomes are secured," he said.
"When considering allocations to accommodations services, safety is the main priority and any assessment of need must take into account behaviours that might impact on other residents in shared facilities, however, a criminal record is not a consideration.
"There are a range of options to assist Tasmanians with their housing who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and these can be explored and accessed through Housing Connect 24 hours a day seven days a week on 1800 800 588."
* Names changed for legal reasons.
- If you think you might be able to help Joshua and Macy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thyne House, Launceston 1300 245 468
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
- Housing Connect 1800 800 588
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