Life Story Work with MacKillop Family Services

All this time I thought that I was in care because I was irresponsible at home and didn’t do a good enough job of feeding my siblings while Mum was out with her friends, but now I know that it wasn’t me being irresponsible at all. It wasn’t my fault! I feel different now.”

This is the heartbreaking statement from a very special 9-year-old living in MacKillop Family Services foster care.

About Life Story Work

Many of the young people living in foster or out of home care were removed from their families at a very young age (over a third of young people in out of home care are under the age of 10) and have missed out on so much opportunity to learn about who they are. A lot of them do not know who came to their first birthday party, they don’t know who cared for them when they were little, and often they don’t know why they’re in care.

One way of helping these young people to find out who they are and then be able to start to work through many of their personal issues is through an exciting therapeutic process – Life Story Work. The process of working through their life story enables young people to be involved in their life journey, allowing them to ask the questions they want the answers to, to be a part of their story.


A very special 9-year-old

Our 9-year-old has been participating in the Life Story Work with the team at MacKillop and has endured some tough conversations about what happened to him when he was in his Mother’s care. This little boy has been struggling in isolation lately, he was defensive and protective of his Mum, he cried and then sat quietly whilst he listened to the therapist and his foster carer explain that Mum and Dad could not care for him because they were not sure how to, because they had their own trauma histories. The little boy took everything in and 10 minutes before the session was due to finish, stated “that’s enough for me today, I need time to think about everything.” and walked away. His foster carer and his therapist had prepared a safety plan for that evening, expecting him to be feeling unsettled and upset by what we had been discussing.


“A finder of puzzle pieces”

The MacKillop Family Services therapist describes the Life Story Work as “a process that helps a young person break down and understand and then try to make sense of what’s happened to them and builds on them knowing who they are as a person.

I see the role as the therapeutic life story worker as a finder of the puzzle pieces. What we do is we ask the young person what do you know and then whatever they don’t know it’s our role to come in and fill in those gaps for them and build a picture and an understanding of their life and of who they are. So, we sit together, and we draw on a wall paper and all the information of goes onto that wall paper so there’s a single place for that information to be held and kept safe.”


Thank You

Thanks to your donations, the Give Where You Live Foundation was proud to be part of the piloting of this therapeutic process with a grant of $30,000 in the 2019 community grant round which has assisted many vulnerable young people living in the care of MacKillop to piece together the pieces of their past, to work out who they are and work to build a brighter future.