Chris S’s story

3 minute read

Meet Chris

Chris, 51, is a special needs teacher’s aide and a single parent caring for her son Stavros, 18, who has autism and requires extra attention and care.

Chris’s day-to-day responsibilities involve helping Stavros get dressed for school, cooking his meals, taking him to and from appointments and to after-school classes.

A new beginning

In 2018, Chris’s life changed when she migrated from Greece back to her home country, Australia.

The first couple of months living in Australia were challenging for Chris, ‘I felt so isolated and a bit lost without my family and friends close by. I worried about how Stavros would cope. He needs constant supervision because he does not have any sense of danger,’ she says.

The language barrier made it difficult for Chris to find a new job, meet new people and organise appointments for Stavros. Chris’ mental health started to deteriorate as she and Stavros adjusted to a new school and environment. ‘It was really hard, especially because of his [Stavros’] age. He is now trying to understand and come to terms with his autism and he is dealing with puberty at the same time,’ says Chris.

Accessing support

‘The role of being a carer and parent isn’t always easy.’ Chris shares.

Chris knew she needed help, but didn’t know where to begin. ‘I started searching for help online and came across the Carer Gateway website. I filled in the online form and received a call from Carer Gateway.

‘After my first conversation with them, they told me that counselling and respite services would best suit my situation. I received counselling from the comfort of my home and got help when I needed it the most,‘ she says.

Reaching out for support helped Chris prioritise her own well-being. Now, she understands the importance of self-care and taking the time to do little things for herself, like going for a walk or seeing a movie. ‘I was able to find joy again and started taking line dancing lessons, learning Italian, gardening and when I get the time, I love to teach others how to make jewellery,’ she says.

Advice to other carers

One piece of advice Chris wishes she could impart to others in a similar situation is, ‘Every carer should reach out for help. It is amazing that there is professional help available, so make sure you take advantage of these services. It makes a world of difference.’