From sleeping rough to University bound: Zain’s story


When Zain* was first referred to Berry Street, he was experiencing homelessness: a young person sleeping rough on the streets of Melbourne with limited support.

Zain had experienced a difficult childhood. He was born in a refugee camp and migrated to New Zealand with his parents soon after his birth.

When Zain, his parents and his two siblings relocated to Melbourne, Zain’s relationship with his mother and father became increasingly strained. While he was reluctant to leave his younger twin sisters, Zain could no longer live at home due to family violence.

Zain remains committed to his education

Despite his personal situation, Zain continued to attend high school. He was constantly driven by the ambition of completing VCE and achieving a remarkable year 12 score.

This was no easy feat, as attending school while experiencing homelessness presents many challenges. It’s about more than not having access to physical amenities such as a shower and a bed; when sleeping rough, a person’s physical safety and emotional state are compromised, and Zain needed electricity to continue studying after the sun went down.

Fortunately, Zain moved into Berry Street’s GOALS accommodation in late 2017 while he was completing his VCE exams.

How GOALS provided stability for Zain

Berry Street’s GOALS (Going Out and Living Successfully) program provides case management and accommodation for young people aged 16-25 who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or about to leave the out-of-home care system.

GOALS provided Zain with support and accommodation and, in turn, he is responsible for supplying his own groceries and paying for any other costs associated with independent living, such as clothing, music tuition and transport. With his own bedroom and space, Zain is able to focus on his studies and part-time job as a barista at a local café.

Living with other young people in the GOALS program has helped Zain build and foster close friendships with his house mates. “It’s been great living with people my age who have gone through similar experiences and who I can relate to,” he explains.

Hard work and resilience leads Zain down a promising path

Zain’s case manager describes him as a “self-reliant, bright young man who shows great interest in learning new skills, whether that’s learning how to cook a hearty winter meal, cleaning around the house, or pruning and fertilising the garden.” It’s this dedication to self-improvement and growth that has driven him to teach himself how to play the keyboard and the guitar. He often references his love of the art of music.

A bright future ahead

Zain’s hard work and dedication to finishing year 12 has paid off: he was recently offered a place at a leading Victorian university to study Arts and Music!

“Receiving this offer still feels like a dream. I am so grateful to GOALS, my case manager and to Berry Street who believed in me and supported me,” he says.

Enabled by determination and commitment to his education, Zain’s future certainly holds more great achievements. With the right support and tools available, there’s no limit to what young people who have experienced disadvantage can achieve.



Thanks to generous support from the community, Berry Street has been successfully running the GOALS program since 2012.

Our Philanthropy Team continues to seek philanthropic partners to maintain GOALS and expand the program to new regions, where there are increasing rates of young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We also invite interest in supporting operating costs for the program at both properties.

For more information or to get involved, please get in touch with our Head of Philanthropy, Loretta Mannix-Fell, on (03) 9421 7587 or at

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*Name has been changed in the interest of privacy. The models and volunteers pictured are not connected to the case study.