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Defying the odds -

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For many who experience the trauma of child abuse and domestic violence, the future is often bleak.
But remarkably, one young Melbourne woman has defied the odds and is helping other young mothers at
risk to create a better life for themselves and their children.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: According to the usual script, Melbourne woman Stacey Currie should be
living on the streets, in jail, on drugs or dead. She ticks all the boxes when it comes to risk
factors, having experienced family breakdown, child abuse, teen pregnancy, homelessness and
domestic violence.

But this remarkable 31-year-old has defied the odds in a spectacular way and is now volunteering to
help other young vulnerable mothers create a better life for themselves and their children. Natasha
Johnson reports.

NATASHA JOHNSON, REPORTER: Meet the dynamic Stacey Currie. 31 years old, mother of five children,
successful businesswoman, inspirational speaker, charity worker and mentor to young mums.

STACEY CURRIE: Forget your happily ever after; get your happily ever now.

NATASHA JOHNSON: But Stacey Currie's happy now is an extraordinary triumph over a miserable then.

STACEY CURRIE: I have been told by many, many people that, "Stacey, you have ruined your life. You
will not ever become something. You are just a shit." And I've had to prove - and say, "No, no, no,
I'm actually - you watch."

NATASHA JOHNSON: What's the usual destination for girls like Stacey Currie?

SUSAN BARTON, LIGHTHOUSE FOUNDATION: The usual destination is on the streets, prostituting or
they'll resort to, you know, soft drugs initially and then heroin and then, tragically, they die.

NATASHA JOHNSON: At a new house for homeless young mothers run by the Lighthouse Foundation, Stacey
Currie shares her remarkable story.

STACEY CURRIE: I was, yeah, living on a floor.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Her parents separated when she was three months old and she was brought up by her
loving but overwhelmed father Lionel and his new partner, who struggled to cope with seven kids in
a Housing Commission home.

STACEY CURRIE: I do remember always crying that I wanted my mum and I always wished that she loved

NATASHA JOHNSON: Her childhood was chaotic with few boundaries. At the age of nine, she was
sexually abused by someone outside the family.

STACEY CURRIE: I became extremely scared of the dark. I didn't tell anybody about the abuse for a
long time. And then when I did, I wasn't believed.

NATASHA JOHNSON: As a rebellious teenager, she was constantly in trouble at school, dabbled in
drugs and ended up pregnant at the age of 15.

STACEY CURRIE: It was hard and there were times that I was crying for days on end and I had no idea
what to do and I had nobody to talk to.

NATASHA JOHNSON: But the birth of baby Josh was a positive catalyst. She'd get up at 5am to prepare
bottles and head off to school with bub in tow, then worked every afternoon in a cafe, dreaming of
a better life.

STACEY CURRIE: I think I could've quite easily have gone down the wrong path, but I had a baby that
I had to care for. I had to make sure that what happened to me as a child didn't happen to him.

NATASHA JOHNSON: She was living with Josh's father in a shed, but soon after having a second child,
Tahlia, they split up. At 19, Stacey Currie was homeless and sleeping on a friend's floor with her
two children.

She then met another man with whom she had a third child and endured years of beatings and abuse.

STACEY CURRIE: I was told on a daily basis that I was a slut, that I was dragged up like an animal,
um, that, um ... if my own mother doesn't love me, then who does.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Her lowest moment came when child protection workers threatened to take her
children away unless she left her abusive partner.

STACEY CURRIE: This lady, she sat there and she just said, "Stacey, tonight your kids are going
into foster care." And, I was on the floor, streaming and begging to, "Just please don't take my
kids off me." And, um - and that I promised that I would change, I would do something.

NATASHA JOHNSON: She was told to start reading to take her mind off her troubles and borrowed a
book about sexual abuse, then devoured one self-help book after another. With extensive
counselling, Stacey Currie started rebuilding her life.

JAN BIDSTRUP, BUSINESS COACH: It's easy to sit there and go, "Oh, well, life is gonna be crap
anyway because this is the cards I've been dealt," and then just be stuck there, but she didn't
accept that this is the way it's gonna be.

NATASHA JOHNSON: Five years ago she met Dave Dvorak, a gentle man with whom she's had two children
and built a successful sign printing business, a venture which earned her a nomination for Telstra
Business Woman of the Year.

STACEY CURRIE: Not only are my kids happy, I am extremely happy. I've met the most amazing and
supportive man. My life right now is everything and more that I could have imagined.

NATASHA JOHNSON: And now she wants to help other young mums do the same, with free advice through
her website and through fundraising and mentoring for the Lighthouse Foundation.

It's opened an innovative refuge for homeless young mums with a 24-hour-a-day carer to provide a
family environment of love and support.

SUSAN BARTON: What we have to do is unpack all those relationships that have been harmful or
abusive and demonstrate a new way of being.

NATASHA JOHNSON: What better example than Stacey Currie.

'EMMA', LIGHTHOUSE RESIDENT: She is a role model, someone I can look up to. She totally understands
what I'm going through.

STACEY CURRIE: Once I started to see my life transforming, I really wanted to help other young mums
get there too. ... If you have a dream, think big and don't let anybody tell you you can't do it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: A little inspiration to end the night with. Natasha Johnson with that report.