A young Gamilaroi woman born and raised on Darug land, Tereesa felt disconnected from her culture. At just 16 years old, she had to leave school after falling pregnant with her first child. A single mother struggling with homelessness, Tereesa’s only concern was finding stability for her children.
“I was homeless. I didn’t have a place to call home…my kids never had a connection to the community,” Tereesa said.
Seeking a better future for her children, Tereesa joined Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation’s Young Mums and Bubs Group, supported by Caritas Australia. Baabayn helped Tereesa access housing for her family and psychological support.
Baabayn gave me a homely support. The staff members were able to sit with me and have a yarn. I didn't feel judged because a lot of people go through what I've experienced.
Through Baabayn, Tereesa was also able to hear stories from Indigenous Elders and reconnect with her culture. Already an aspiring artist, Tereesa was able to flourish at Baabayn as she learnt Indigenous artwork and symbols.
With the support of Baabayn, Tereesa’s art was displayed and sold at local markets and she is now working to start her own art business. Tereesa’s artwork was recognised at the 2022 Vivid Festival in Sydney, with four of her artworks – Crow Totem, Connections of Both Land & Water Tribes, Yinaar Miyaay (Womens Business) and Goanna Totem – projected onto the Wulugul Walk outside Crown Sydney.
Today, Tereesa is studying a certificate in Community Services so that she can strengthen her skills and give back to her community.
“I don't think I'd be the person I am today without Baabayn and being part of the mum's group has brought out a lot of creativity in my bones that I didn't even know I had,” Tereesa said.
Tereesa now works at Baabayn, providing support to young mothers and mentoring the next generation of young people.