When we meet her at her home at YWCA’s pop-up affordable housing property the Lakehouse, Sharon is studying a book on photography.
“I’ve always been a creative type,” she explains. “I studied creative writing, and now I’m studying photography. I’m having to be extra creative now, as my camera lens is broken! I’m trying to incorporate that into my photographs as a creative element, at least until I can save up for a new camera lens!”
Sharon likes nothing more than grabbing her camera and heading out into the world to see what she can capture.
“I spent half an hour at the lake the other day, trying to take photos of the swans,” she says. “My fingers were frozen by the end of it!”
Photography has also allowed Sharon to connect with her local community. She spends many sunsets down at the local beach and has met some wonderful people.
“I met a wonderful older lady the other day,” Sharon says. “She was telling me all about her life and how she took off to live and travel around Europe for a number of years after her kids had left home. I quite admire her for her courage!”
Sharon has also had her share of travelling adventures. Originally from New Zealand, she has now been in Australia for over 35 years – and has probably seen more of Australia than most people.
“I first settled down in Western Australia for fifteen years, and then went on a bit of an adventure around Australia. Over the years I’ve lived in Lake Macquarie, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Noosa and Tasmania!” she remembers.
One year ago, Sharon decided to move to Victoria to be closer to some long-term friends. Living on a low income, she didn’t have many choices for housing.
“I was house-sitting to try to keep a roof over my head,” she says. “It was very tiring, and very stressful. You’re always working hard to find your next house-sitting assignment and hoping that there would be no gap between assignments.”
When Sharon was successful in getting a tenancy at the Lakehouse, there was a great sense of relief.
“The Lakehouse is a real coming together of the nations. There’s challenges of course, but we’re a community. Living here is all about healing, and everyone here is on their own journey.”
“None of us set out to be homeless. But sometimes life events can conspire against you. Everyone needs to remember that it’s not a case of ‘Us and them’ – we’re all only one step away from homelessness.”
When asked where she sees herself in ten years time, Sharon smiles.
“My dad always told me that I should get a mobile home, so I can live everywhere and anywhere. I’m quite nomadic, so I can see myself having more adventures, travelling, capturing beautiful places, people and things with my camera.”
But for now – Sharon has the Lakehouse.
“It’s not a forever home. But it’s home for now. Every day, I feel blessed to be here.”