Could you first introduce yourself?
My Name is Brendon Trauntner, I live in the Southern Highlands, New South Wales, Australia. I am a Gundungurra Aboriginal man, a single dad of 3 beautiful children, and a part-time student.
Can you describe how you first came in contact with Home-Start?
I was referred via a community pantry that was assisting me with food for myself and my children and was advised by a volunteer after she heard my story to contact Home-Start worker, Danielle.
Can you talk about your experience with Home-Start?
I contacted Danielle at one of the lowest moments of my life, I was barely holding it together and had many thoughts of ending my life. I had just discovered my wife had run off with another man and had left me with 3 children aged 2, 3, and 3 months. I had since discovered my wife had been gambling all our funds and not paying bills. We had to leave our home, I was homeless with 3 children and at that time was working part-time to complete my studies. I thought my life was over and I was hopeless.
Danielle held me and picked me off the floor while I wept. She held my hand and promised me that life was going to get better and that she would stand by me until I no longer needed her.
Danielle, within 3 days, had the whole community working together to help me and my kids, she is my guardian angel, and I still can’t believe what she had accomplished.
I was able to move into a home she had organised with another service by the 4th day and had the whole house furnished, clothing, toys, bedding, washing machine, dryer, vacuum everything you need in a home, and she had it all donated to her from the community. She worked day and night to make it happen and then filled my kitchen with food.
The community reached out to me, and strangers became friends. Danielle linked me with a wonderful volunteer named Greg and he has been a mate, a father, and a mentor who I see weekly for a coffee and some moral support. From thinking I had nothing and no one, myself and my kids had everything and a community supporting us.
Could you describe how your situation now is different from when Home-Start first helped you?
I have a safe, warm home for myself and my kids. I have completed my degree and am now studying part-time in Community Service so I can give back what I had received from Home-Start. I work with men facing barriers due to their mental health. My debts are paid, I have legal sole custody of my children and I am a happy confident Aboriginal man who wants to use my experiences to empower and lift up other men.
I have an amazing support network.
In particular, how has Home-Start helped you in terms of being a Father?
My children would have been in foster care if Home-Start didn’t step in. I was so close to ending my life and now I embrace my life and my role of being a dad. I want my children to always see a happy, loving father in me and I want to show them that there are good and loving people in the world who do care and to embrace challenges and never back down. I am proud of the father I am, and I will continue to work to be the best parent I can be.
Do you have any advice for someone who may have been in a similar situation as you and is in need of help?
Reach Out!! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Change can and does happen.
If you could describe Home-Start in a few sentences, what would you say?
A life-changing, supportive hub of amazing, loving, smart, caring workers that saved my life.