Sammy Birchall spent nights on couches and in domestic violence shelters after leaving her out-of-home care placement (Image: Supplied/Private Media)
Sammy Birchall spent nights on couches and in domestic violence shelters after leaving her out-of-home care placement (Image: Supplied/Private Media)

Sammy Birchall was just 17 when she fled the foster home she had lived in for eight years. Across her experience in the out-of-home care system, she alleges she experienced sexual and physical violence and only limited attempts were made to get her new permanent housing. 

Birchall, now 22, believes the NSW government might have done more to help her if she wasn’t just months from being kicked out of its out-of-home care system. So she spent more than a year bouncing from house to house -- sleeping on friends’ couches, sometimes for a week and sometimes for months. Some of the houses were dangerous; she says she was subjected to domestic violence. Once she ended up in a women’s shelter as she waited for social housing.

Birchall wasn’t working at the time, but even if she had been, renting a place was near impossible. It’s a sellers' market and real estate agents demand pay stubs, proof of bills, rental history and guarantors.