Sheri, Bundy and Amber's story
Sheri: Before I met my caseworker, Amber, I was just ready to lie, say anything I had to, to get her off my back. You know, it was pretty frightening having to meet her, and the kids went up to Bundy's sisters to stay for a week. Just so they weren't anywhere near us, while FACS was coming to see us. It was just getting worse and worse, and didn't really know what else to do, and I felt very alone, and lost.
Bundy: The life I was living was drugs, and parties, and whatever else. Dragging Sheri and the kids from place to place, we just couldn't get settled. Things just got out of control, that started the violence around the kids. I started hitting Sheri. When I first met Amber, I didn't trust her (laughs) I just thought she was trying to take Sheri and the kids away. I started to realise that if I didn't, start to trust what she was saying, I definitely would've lost my family. I realised that she was just there to help.
Amber: Before I met Sheri and Bundy, it took a little while to make contact with them, felt like perhaps they were trying to avoid meeting with me, but I really just wanted to have a chat with them, and find out what was going on for them in their lives.
Sheri: When I first met Amber, I just felt a connection straight away with her. Her gentle voice and kind smile, yeah I just poured my heart out to her, and told her everything that was going on, and how unmanageable our lives were, and we needed help.
Amber: When I first met Sheri, I could see how nervous she was, and how scared she was, at the end of the meeting she said, could she have a hug, because she felt like
that for the first time in a long time she'd been really listened to, and really heard.
Sheri: I thought this day I met Amber, was gonna be the worst day of my life, turned out to be one of the best days of my life.
Amber: While Sheri was immediately committed to making change for her family, Bundy took a little while to come on board. He would quite often disappear for days at a time, leaving Sheri to hold all the responsibilities. During that time he was using drugs, and would often come home and be violent towards Sheri and the children. So, in the beginning, one of the things I really struggled with, was the fact that Sheri wanted to stay with Bundy, who was not as committed to making change as she was, and I felt that Bundy was holding the family back. Something that I really had to do was reflect on my own feelings about men that use violence. At the same time, taking into consideration Sheri's absolute commitment to keeping Bundy a part of the family. It was really important for me to be open to critique when I was speaking with my manager client services. So, through these conversations, and also through reflection, I realised that it was really important that the family had to make decisions that were right for them. We hold so much power over the families that we work with, and when you share that power, and you share that knowledge, and you listen to what they have to say, and they share their knowledge, then that's when you get the outcomes that are best for families.
Sheri: Amber really respected us as people, and as parents, and she really got to know
each and every one of us. She knows us pretty well, I really like the way Amber was really flexible, and she dug deeper and any way, if what ever plan didn't work for us, she'd find another plan, she'd find another way around it. She's very dedicated and...
Bundy: I did an anger management and violence prevention course, it helped a lot with the violence. Then the rehab, first time I ever done anything like that.
Sheri: Wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for her. Yeah, she's just awesome. (laughs)
Amber: Some of my colleagues felt that this family had so much ingrained trauma, that they were never gonna be able to make change, it was gonna be too difficult. But from the first time I met the family, I realised, there was hope there, there was hope for change. Both Sheri and Bundy told me separately, that they had never had anyone in their lives that had believed in them before. That had been there 100 percent for them, in their corner, and I felt like that was a role, that I wanted to try and take on for them, and that hope that we had all the way through, helped me keep coming back to that.
Sheri: Soon we're moving into a bigger home. It's gonna be bigger and better things for us all. Stable living, and yeah, it's what I've always wanted.
Amber: So whilst my work with this family has been long, and intense, and we've had lots of ups and downs, all of the power stands with them. They have worked so hard, and have been brave, and strong, and honest, and committed to providing their family with a life that I am really proud of. So whilst the family has made such dramatic change to their lives, our focus now is going to be on addressing the significant trauma that their children have experienced, and supporting Sheri and Bundy to provide a home that is safe, and stable and secure, and loving.
Sheri: I really want my kids to have good memories, to remember. We owe that to them, and the life we all deserve isn't not too far away, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.