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Life after foster care: Finding a place in cultural identity and helping others

15th January, 2021   |    By Anonymous   |    3 min read

Heywire winner Janaya Hennesy from Nowra, NSW shares her story.

Listen to an audio recording of this story here

Growing up in foster care, I was surrounded by positivity, until in 2014 when my mother passed away.

The next few years were tumultuous, severing my self-worth as I moved from home to home.

I began to feel like a failure — my family had fallen apart and being Aboriginal, I was told I was doubly disadvantaged.

But I made it through high school and I had big plans to achieve and push myself beyond my perceived failure.

When I graduated in 2016, those plans started to feel impossible.

School ended, severing my connection my two main support networks — school and the foster care system.

I was farewelling friends off to new jobs, travel, university … all with support from their families.

Who am I? Where do I belong? What am I worth? Why am I not given the same opportunities?

These questions shook me.

Despite my fears, I have found support in new communities, like the Aboriginal Advisory Committee and my church.I found the confidence to study a Bachelor of Social Work at university.

I am learning to see the strength in my culture and my current support networks.

Setbacks are merely footstools to move towards a better future. I’m learning to move with the seasons of life.

I have had great opportunity to use my biggest challenges to help other young people through similar struggles.

I remember sharing some of those low times at a youth group bonfire and being blown away by how much it impacted the kids there.

So many came up to me afterward to tell me how encouraging it was to hear that someone else had felt like a failure, out of place, lost.

My difficult life experiences can be an advantage in life, especially studying social work.

Embracing my Aboriginality, I have found a community and a place representing young people on the Aboriginal Advisory Committee.

I wouldn’t change my story for the world; I’ve learned from every hurdle.

And I can use my story to help others who believe they will never amount to anything because of the circumstances they were born into.

Even if you are born into a situation that is hopeless, there is always hope.

I’m proof of that.

If you or anyone you know needs help:


Also check the related topics:  

Private: Mob Life Private: Mental Health
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