BT: How did you hear about the Bravery Trust?
J: Through Cassie, my wife.
C: I found it online. We were struggling.
J: We were in dire trouble.
C: I didn’t know what to do. We’d spoken to family, we’d gotten as much help as we could, and it was just like, “Let’s find someone that can help us.” And it was through a lot of Googling and talking to people that I found the Bravery Trust. I put in an application to see how we’d go. And it was just amazing that we got the help that we did, at the time.
J: We were about to go under. We were two and a half months behind in our rent. We had an eviction notice served to us. And we were days away from being on the street, literally. And then we came across the Bravery Trust.
C: It was literally just a Godsend. They sent out food vouchers and stuff like that. They paid the back rent. It was such a relief not to have to eat two-minute noodles every night. We were eating crappy food just so we could feed the kids good things. We couldn’t get help anywhere else. It was only through the Bravery Trust that we got help, and we can keep our house and keep up with everything. Now we’re at that stage where we’re not well off, but we’re not struggling. We can get by. We have our lean times, but we can get by.
BT: Did you ever expect to find yourself needing financial support?
J: Not at this stage. I’ve been in worse situations prior to meeting Cassie. I’ve lived in factories; I’ve lived in my car. At one stage, I lived in my car and I hunted rabbits, and sold rabbit meat for money to buy food. So, I’ve been in probably worse situations previously. But at this stage in life, I thought that I was secure.
BT: When you first began dealing with the Bravery Trust, what do you remember that experience being like?
C: Well, I did most of it because he wasn’t in the best place at that time. Honestly, once I finally got all the paperwork together, and everything they needed, I found it very easy. It was just a relief that someone just said, “Okay. Look. Just chill out for five minutes, and I’ll take care of this.” It was just having that support there, that was beneficial for us at the time. Tracy still rings up, and is like “Are you still okay? How’s it going?” And it’s sort of that follow up support that’s so important.
It’s not just “Here’s some money. Go away.” It’s that, “If you still need help, let us know. We’ve got other organisations that we know, that can help you out,” and things like that. It’s been a good experience the whole time. I’ve recommended them to other people… other friends of Jim’s that are going through a tough time.
C: We found dealing with the Bravery Trust very personal. They spoke to you on your level. They were normal people. And they were people that you were happy to talk with. If they called you up, it’s like “Hi, how are you going? Are you happy to talk?” Some organisations we looked to help from were really difficult and wouldn’t deal with me. You’ve got to understand, you’re dealing with someone who’s depressed. You’re not going to get a straight answer out of them. You need to talk to me. And they’re like “No, no, no, no.” Whereas Tracy was more than happy to speak to me. It was more family-like and it was open and honest.
BT: What did you find surprising about your time working with the Bravery Trust?
C: Just the generosity. It was before Christmas last year, that we got the initial help. And then at Christmas, out of nowhere, we got a card and some gift vouchers. It’s just been surprising to us that hey, they actually care. They want to help. And I think that’s why I so openly say to people, “If you want help, go to Bravery Trust. They’ve been awesome.”
J: Before we rang the Bravery Trust we were in a really, really, bad position. And even in that position, I still didn’t want to take that step to ask for help. Cassie had to initiate it because I didn’t want to do it. There’s that sense of pride. And I think a lot of soldiers are the same. We’re trained to be self-reliant and resilient, and all the rest of it. And not accept help from people. And I think, with a lot of people, if they were to make that initial call and not follow up, they’d fall through the cracks in those organisations. If someone makes a call to the Bravery Trust, and then decides “I’m not going to ring back because I shouldn’t have rung,” or whatever, then Tracy will ring you back. Or someone will ring you back and go “Hey, what’s going on?” And then they’ll push the issue a bit. And I think that helps because a lot of guys resist support.
C: Military attitudes come into it. They think “I’m supposed to be the protector. I’m supposed to be the provider. I’m supposed to be the one that does everything for the family.” And when they can’t do that, it’s just this whole loss and depression.
J: Tracy asked us “What are your bills? What do you owe?” And I said “Well, I owe this, we’ve got this bill, I’ve got a registration.” It was a few thousand dollars. And when she came back and said “We’re paying the whole two and a half months back rent. We’re paying the power bill and the rego”, it was a bit of a shock to the system. I couldn’t believe it. It might not seem like a lot to some people. But to us at that time, that was like winning the lottery. That got us out of the mess, and the sense of relief and elation after that phone call was just unbelievable.
BT: What would have been the outcome if Bravery Trust hadn’t supported you? Or if they didn’t exist?
C: I think we would have lost the house, that’s for sure.
J: There’s a good chance I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you now.