Drugs, theft and violence: my life on the streets
By LEE McDOUGALL
SHAYNE Hudson may not realise it just yet, but he is a remarkable young man.
To understand Shayne's story, one has to try to walk a mile in his shoes.
Meet him today and his shoes may at first seem fairly comfortable ? he is living in a nice flat in Coffs Harbour, working as a volunteer for Lifehouse Care, and spending what time he can with his five-year-old son who lives in Bellingen. Yet, travel back prior to the past six months and Shayne's shoes will
quickly start to make you feel uncomfortable, sore, tired and perhaps older than the handsome, young man with the ready smile may at first suggest.
You see, from the age of 12, Shayne has been homeless.
While he today describes his relationship with his parents as 'really good', from 12 he was in and out of the Juvenile Justice system, in and out of the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore, in and out of foster care, and in and out of trouble with the law.
"I was one of those kids who DoCS (Department of Community Services) couldn't control," Shayne said.
"I was on drugs, got mixed up with the wrong people, did a break and enter and held a knife to some guy's throat ? which was really wrong."
Facing court on charges of break and enter and malicious wounding, the young teenager found himself in juvenile detention.
"I did some really wrong things and I paid the price."
It was only when Shayne realised that drugs were the cause of much of his problems that he began to turn his life around.
Late last year he became part of the Rough Sleepers Program (see separate story this page) which resulted in him moving into a flat and off the streets.
Shayne is now working as a volunteer with Lifehouse Care in Earl Street and hoping to 'give something back' to those who have helped him.
"All I can do is teach the younger generation not to make the same mistakes that I've done," Shayne said.
Lifehouse Care manager Carol Sleep paid tribute to the young man and the Rough Sleepers Program that has given him a new life.
"He has been a real success story," Ms Sleep said.