Tenant Stories

Sussana’s Story

Sussana shares that when she moved into Brisbane Common Ground she was at a low point in her life. “I wasn’t open to anything – I wasn’t open to life. I accepted my lot and that was it. I was just surviving.” Sussana candidly discusses the effect that housing instability had on her life. “Even before I was homeless, I had to move every year or two because the rent would go up, it’s always been difficult.” Sussana recalls that she got really down about being out of the workforce for a couple of years. “I have a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and I used to work in the areas of mental health, domestic violence and disabilities.”

Sussana recalls. “But all I had was work – I gave everything and then I crashed. That was the problem. I definitely hit rock bottom and just didn’t care anymore – I lost myself I guess. I felt like I was always running and I had to find somewhere to stop and deal with my own stuff and that’s what living at Brisbane Common Ground has given me.”

15 months later, Sussana says she is now more open and knows that things can get better. “I just thought I could either sit in my room and get more depressed or do something. I started the cooking program and swimming just to get me out of the house and all of that really helped.”

And that was just the start. Sussana has since completed an on-site Certificate II in Business Administration and Certificate III in Micro Business offered through Common Ground Queensland’s Employment, Training and Volunteering Program. Sussana explains that she almost quit, but the program staff found a solution for every excuse she came up with, so that in the end she had no choice but to keep going. “There was nothing really holding me back,” she admits. “They were so patient and tolerant. It’s genuine and you can tell.”

Sussana is certain that the culture and environment at Brisbane Common Ground has played a big role in helping her to regain her enthusiasm and purpose. “I understand people have issues and barriers, mental health and addictions, so I know that makes it difficult, but at least they’re in an environment that when they’re ready they’ll have that support.” Sussana adds, “Everyone here is amazing. It’s just the little things along the way. If I was living somewhere else, I wouldn’t get this support or have these opportunities, so I’m really grateful. I’m overwhelmed by it actually – it brings me to tears.”

When you ask Sussana what’s next, her eyes light up as she discusses her first steps towards setting up her own candle making business. She’s already started to explore local outlets to sell her products. “I’ve chosen to call my business ‘Hope Candles’, not because of the street name, but because no matter where I end up I will always remember the people from Common Ground Queensland and Micah Projects that supported me so much – for giving me room to grieve and find something to look forward to; some hope for a better future.” Sussana also talks about a desire to work with domestic violence services again. “I enjoy working with people – it helps me to forget about my own problems. Now I’ve got more energy for other people because I’m replenished – I’m filling up and I’ve got enough to give out.”