The Cornelia Program provided Mia stability before the arrival of her baby boy

The Women’s, Launch Housing and HousingFirst have collaborated to develop the Cornelia Program – an Australian-first initiative that aims to break the cycle of homelessness and support pregnant women and new mothers. The program provides women with access to transitional accommodation in a new apartment complex comprising 36 studio apartments, as well as tailored wrap around health care and social support. Thanks to philanthropic and government partners, women and babies started moving in into their new apartments in August 2021. 

Words by Cornelia Program client Mia*:

Before I was accepted into the Cornelia Program I struggled with homelessness because of domestic violence. When I found out I was pregnant the first thing I thought after the shock subsided was how am I going to be able to provide a home to my precious miracle baby?

I tried every support service I could find and failed to get private rentals. All the while trying to manage my physical and mental health while couch surfing with all my possessions in bags and boxes sadly even ending up staying in a squat with no power only a garden hose to wash or drink from.

To make a bad situation worse the person I had been staying there with turned on me and stole irreplaceable pictures and possessions. If not for a generous friend taking me in I might have given up at that point but I held out hope. Not long after I was told about the Cornelia Program through my amazing support team at the RWH. Before long I was meeting the team, did my assessment, got a tour of the stunning facility and made a date to officially sign the paperwork so I could move in just over a week later.

The relief I felt knowing my baby and I finally stable, safe, affordable home for the next 12 months as well as all the additional support including prenatal and housing assistance for our future.

Moving in was the easy part. I had been living out of boxes and bags for over a year so finally getting to unpack while giving into my nesting instincts felt amazing. My little apartment started to feel like home after a few days of settling in and setting up for the arrival of my son.  It has been the biggest relief having stability and I finally can enjoy the miracle of being pregnant while I wait to meet my precious son.

I have been very happily living here now for a few weeks and although Victoria is in lockdown I have not felt alone due to the continuous support from the Cornelia team as well as the super complimentary information/education sessions. Being well informed is so important to me as a first-time mum and has helped me feel more in control of my pregnancy journey. Having a supportive, safe and stable place to call home means the world to me and has allowed me to maintain consistent contact with my family and friends for the first time in months as well as giving me the opportunity to budget better, eat better and I am so grateful that no words will do my heart justice.

Learn more about the Cornelia Program.

*name changed to maintain anonymity.