Not sure where to start? Read what other Zoe mums have to say about their experiences and be inspired as you begin your own journey.
Reflecting on the past five years...
I engaged with Zoe Support in 2013, with my 3 year old daughter and 4 month old son in tow.
From the first time I walked through the doors of Zoe, I have been overwhelmed with support, information, encouragement and kindness. Having left school at 15, I had no intentions of further study... ever. But I quickly became excited by the many opportunities provided to me and my children. I learned skills such as cooking, budgeting and sewing.
Zoe supported me to get my licence, move into safe housing and to parent well. My daughter completed 3 year old kindergarten and my son went from being a babe in arms to an active and happy toddler, and I was able to breastfeed him for ten months even while attending school! I completed VCE in 2014 and received an early offer to study social work at LaTrobe University. I am now in my third year of a four year degree. My daughter is in grade one and is considered 12-18 months advanced in reading and writing, to which I credit Zoe staff and volunteers who spent countless hours educating her through stories, playtime and daily care. My son is in kindergarten.
Zoe has continued to support me from afar, assisting me with countless successful scholarship applications. I am the first in my family with children to have a job or study beyond high school! I have been volunteering at Zoe since last year and I am honoured to be able to give something back. Zoe gave me back my future.
Class of 2013
Zoe Support has had an enormous impact on my life, not only as a mother of a 22-month-old daughter, but as a 21-year-old woman. It has helped and encouraged me to grow into the confident person and mother that I didn’t think I could ever be.
Since being involved with Zoe Support, they have taught me that your life choices are your own key to success. I have learnt that you may have days where you fail, but you learn from these days as you can’t succeed without learning. I now can see that my life is like an aeroplane: I am the pilot and I have passengers along for the ride; some get off at different destinations; others stick by you, but in the end, you choose the route you want to fly. I am choosing to learn, succeed, and deal with the bumps as they arise and become the best person that I can be for myself and my daughter.
Zoe Support has helped me keep focussed and start studying a Certificate IV at TAFE. I see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to better myself and better my daughter’s opportunities for the future. Being able to watch her grow and learn, I have realised that I want to do the same, grow and learn alongside her.
Not having a licence but having the Zoe Bus for transport makes it a lot easier for me and my daughter to get into a routine. We get up early, get ready and arrive at Zoe where my daughter attends day care and I study for 6-8 hours a day. Zoe is helping with tutors, childcare and finding the right support to suit my individual needs. Without the assistance or huge amount of support I’ve had from Zoe Support, I wouldn’t be half the mother and person I am today.
I would like to finish with my favourite quote: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she began to fly". I feel this is fitting in my life, as Zoe Support noticed my potential and ability to succeed and helped my fly when the rest of the world may have thought I couldn’t.
Class of 2015
I’m Zoey and I’m 20 and I am mum to Lincoln who is 20 months old. Before Zoe, I’d left school half way through year 11 and was working full time. When I first fell pregnant with Lincoln I got introduced to Zoe from a Zoe girl. I excluded myself a lot. I just continued working to support my dad. I struggled a lot in school because of family life and things that were happening which were distracting. I decided working was way more important than my study. And then I woke up one day and realised my life needed to be about my little boy, and not so much my family. That I needed to be the best mum for my son and not be a mother to my family. Zoe Support helped me get on track with that.
I never pictured myself ever, ever going back to study. When I was pregnant one day at Zoe, one of the case workers Peta came up to me and asked, ‘Zoey what do you want to do?’ And I said, I always wanted to work in childcare, but I just didn't know how to get there. Peta just said, ‘It's possible, anything is possible, if you want to do it, it's possible’. We went to TAFE and found out what I needed to do, and that got me back on the books and I started study. Zoe also helped with my house. So, me and Lincoln settled into our first house when he was 3 months old. Thanks to Zoe Support, I couldn't have done it without them. Just paperwork… I was a teenage mum… I had no idea what to do. I'd never had to be in that role myself. Those few months were hard by myself. It got so much better from there, realising I can do it with the support around me. I refused to let my son go to anybody else. I didn't want to feel disconnected from him and he was young. I was young. I didn't want somebody else raising my baby. My worker convinced me to sign up for 2 days daycare, and so I did, knowing that I would be studying in the same house with him, and could be with him whenever I needed to be. I tried it out, and it only took about 2 weeks before I worked out, I’ll take an extra day!
I connected with one mum who has changed my world. And I'm pretty sure I've done the same for her. She’s always come to Zoe and I have seen her around. We got stuck studying in the same house together, and ever since then we are inseparable. Without Zoe, I’d probably still be living with my father. I would probably still be in an abusive relationship. Probably still fighting the daily battle of not being able to do it on my own. Scared to let go of the family life.
Last word: Nothing is impossible, if you set goals.
Class of 2015
My name is Rose. I'm 16 years old and I've a daughter named Isabella and she is 16 months old. Before Zoe, I wasn’t attending school, I didn’t end up completing year 8. When Isabella was about 6 months old, I started back at school and I did term 3 and term 4, and now I’m doing year 10. It’s a lot easier with (Zoe) Daycare looking after Isabella because I can see her whenever I can, on recess and lunch. Playgroup is good, interacting with other mums and playing with other babies. Next year, I’m going to do year 11, and then probably finish up my Beauty Services Cert III next year as well. My case worker, Cindy, helps out a lot with Centrelink payments, and all that…doing transport. Without Zoe, I don’t think I’d still be studying, it would be too hard
Class of 2016
Before reaching out to Zoe Support, I was lost and emotionally isolated. I was 22, pregnant with my second child, and certainly not in a position to be able to provide stability for my family on my own. I was also living without my first child after experiencing a breakdown due to life circumstances.
From the first time I entered Zoe, my life changed. I felt accepted, appreciated & understood, all of which I had not experienced in a very long time. Despite my hardships and mistakes, I was greeted with smiles, kind hearts and accepting new friends. With this new support from both support workers and other Zoe mums, I discovered my potential.
With the help of Zoe, I have achieved things I had given up hope on. Seven years after dropping out of school, the Zoe team have helped me re-engage in education, and after two years I am now completing my first year of Bachelor of Arts at LaTrobe University. My children are transported every morning by bus to Zoe centres and school; my education resources are provided for me through a scholarship organised through Zoe with Chances, and I have access to a work space where I can study with my children close by. Without access to these resources and the supportive Zoe network that provides them, my achievements would have remained unobtainable.
As well as allowing me to excel academically, the Zoe Support team has inspired confidence within me in many other aspects of my life. Attending Zoe playgroup has greatly benefitted my bond with my children and my confidence in forming friendships and the various workshops organised are advantageous for my parenting expertise.
The devotion and caring of all the Zoe Support team is evident through all of their endeavours. Their persistence and dedication to my wellbeing and potential as well as the other young mothers is not only inspiring, but also allows us the solace of knowing our families will be better prepared for our future, thanks to their consistent and passionate support. Connecting with Zoe Support has completely turned my life around. The opportunities that the Zoe team are providing to young mothers are absolutely priceless and I can’t imagine where I’d be without them.
Class of 2016
Life before Zoe was living in a caravan, and I had Miller and I was lost. That's when I started bringing Miller to Zoe. We went to the playgroup. I started doing an Art course but I didn't find it was really what I wanted to do, so I changed and I did my accounting course at TAFE Accounting Cert IV for 4 days a week. I was almost finished and my teacher called to say an employer was offering a job. I applied and I got it. I was very, very happy about getting the job. It was a really good achievement for me getting a full-time job. It’s always been a goal of mine to have a full-time job. I never had parents that worked, and growing up I never wanted a job. I would just do nothing and just be on Centrelink. But I wanted to show Miller that that's not the way to live, sitting around doing nothing. Without Zoe Support I think I'd still be in the caravan. I wouldn't have been able to continue my course, I wouldn't have been able to find a permanent house, I would have just been moving around constantly. The first 12 years of my life was moving every year. I went to foster care for 5 years and that was good, but I just wanted to go back to mum. No one explained, ‘Hey you're leaving home because mum is on drugs, and mum doesn't look after you…’ I took certain things from my childhood that I don't want. I'm a lot better now, but I'm not where I want to be, it’s a goal of mine, that Miller grows up in a tidy house and he's not ashamed to bring his friends over.