Like all 28-year-olds Milly has big dreams for herself and her family; four-year-old son John and partner James. High on her list of goals is a holiday, getting her licence, buying a car and eventually a wedding.

“There are a few things that I want to do but I can’t really afford them all right now,” said Milly.

That is about to change, with Milly starting her first job at McDonalds last month. Milly admits to being very nervous before her maiden shift.

“But I’m not nervous anymore things went well,” she said. So well in fact she was asked to work an impromptu shift while at the restaurant having lunch with Danny, one of her support workers.

It is an exciting milestone for Milly and the many CareSouth support workers, past and present, who have shared her journey to independence over the past 12 years.

Milly came to CareSouth in 2008, when she was just 16 years old, and lived in a supported living home in the Shoalhaven.  She transitioned to independent living and is supported by CareSouth’s Community Support team as she continues to develop her social skills, confidence and independent living skills. 

Four years ago Milly settled into a steady relationship and had a baby boy. This proved to be the biggest learning opportunity for her. Milly credits parenting with giving her the confidence to speak up, try new things and face her fears.

“It’s tough, especially with a baby but I’m making plans for our future,” said Milly.

So many people have helped Milly on her journey towards independence, then motherhood and now employment and CareSouth staff could not be prouder of her achievements.

“Milly has made a lot of progress over a long period of time and so many people have been a part of that journey,” said Tim, one of her support workers. “She is blossoming.”

“Into a young lady,” laughed Milly.

“I was going to say into an adult, you’ve started adulting,” quipped Tim.

The pair, who have been working together for the past two years, have an easy rapport. They both love a laugh and a joke, but also know when it is time to be serious.

Around a year ago Tim and Danny helped Milly develop an employment pathway, working with Milly to increase her confidence, social networks and community connections.

“We would take Milly out to Macca’s and talk about getting a job and she started chatting to the staff who worked there,” said Tim. “All that time she was building her confidence and social connections as well. Then one day they mentioned they needed new staff and Milly had to step up and out of her comfort zone. That comes with confidence and Milly did it.”

“I used to not have confidence,” said Milly.

“There’s been some ups and downs this year, especially with day care,” explained Tim. “But Milly has gone into Mumma Bear mode and spoken up and her confidence has soared.”

Now Milly is taking on her next big challenge.

She knows it’s not going to be easy, but she’s proved she can do it.

“Just by chatting to the girls at Macca’s she’s broadened her network and got a job,” said Tim. “She’s taken the first step and is on her way.”

“It only takes small steps to make big changes,” said Craig Hissey, Shoalhaven’s Community Support Team Leader. “Every CareSouth support worker over the past 12 years who has worked with Milly has contributed with little steps forward to build Milly’s confidence and life skills required to make this life changing step forward.

“While Milly freely admits that she is still a work in progress (like all of us) her latest achievement speaks volumes about how far Milly has come. This is a great success for Milly and shows that persistent, positive support can have a dramatic impact on someone’s life.”

Milly has started saving for a holiday to Yamba, or maybe a cruise.

“I’ve never been on a cruise in my life,” said Milly.

“I’ll come along as your support worker,” joked Tim.

There is likely to be a long line of CareSouth staff willing to carry Milly’s bags, given the mutual respect developed over more than a decade of support.