I lost count the number of rude comments, judgments and assumptions that have been said to me over my 23 years. I can’t remember how many times I’ve woken up to the ‘BANG BANG BANG POLICE’ on the door at 5am.

As a child I have been strip searched, police have attended my high school wanting statements against my parents, I have been put into an interview room and questioned by police about my parents identity at 7 years old, when I was 20 I was pulled over for a random car search and was asked if I had a receipt for a 2 year old tent? I think the thing that stood out to me the most were the nasty comments that were said.

‘You’re going to be a junkie just like your parents’, ‘Maybe we should fingerprint her now it will save us time when she gets older’, ‘We are not taking you to the station you’ve got 10 minutes too find somewhere too go or were calling DOCS’.

As a kid I can remember being confused about the whole thing. I always was a good kid, very polite, no criminal record, and I could never understand why they would act like that towards me? Aren’t they meant to help? Yes, they were arresting my whole family, but I didn’t do anything?

Police raids were never a fun time. We had a place on the GC where we had the pleasure of a visit from the boys in blue. Dad was handcuffed sitting in the kitchen while they searched the place. I was sitting on Dads lap and I said to him ‘Dad, why are they so mean to me, I don’t take drugs?’ He replied ‘because you are part of the family darlin, they put everyone in the same box. You will learn that, as you get older. In their eyes we are all tarred with the same brush’. But why should we be put in the same box? Why should we suffer because of our parent’s mistakes? I love my parents and to me they aren’t scum junkies they are my mum and dad and they did the best they could.

About 2 years ago I found out I’m Hepatitis C positive. I was shocked, because I have never injected drugs and haven’t been exposed to risky behaviour where I could have picked up the virus (blood to blood contact with an infected person). I had a chat with mum and the doctor, and we figured out it was transmitted when mum was giving birth. In 1989 (the year I was born) Hepatitis C was known only as non A, non B Hepatitis. I also had a complicated birth. I was 2 weeks premature and mum said that, ‘I wanted OUT’ haha.

To help with the birth the doctor used forceps, which cut the top of my head and of course mum was bleeding so that’s where the transmission occurred.

I booked into doctors all around the joint to get the blood tests done. One doctor asked me what drugs I was using! ‘I don’t use drugs’, I replied. He rolled his eyes at me and said if I want support with treatment, I need to be honest, and he needs to know when the last time was I injected drugs.

What some people may not realize, is that we kids carry this stuff around. We either excel to be everything opposite of what we were ‘told’ we would be, or unfortunately, sometimes it’s easier for us to escape reality and start using ourselves. Whatever path we take, some people can overlook our amazing resilience and strengths. Our wisdom, common sense and street smarts are well beyond our years. I think it’s important for society to remember us and to be mindful of the impact that their interactions with us can have on our view of society, particularly authority figures.

I’m sharing this with all of you, not from a ‘FUCK THE SYSTEM’ view, although it may seem that way. Looking back now I can (to some degree) have an understanding as to ‘why’ people can be quick to make assumptions and judgments. I’m not angry anymore and it’s taken me a long time to get to that stage.

One thing I do want to know, is where was the support? All these people that were making judgments and assumptions about my family and I, yet I wasn’t asked the simple question ‘are you ok?’ ‘How are you coping’? Why didn’t anybody refer me to places for support? Why didn’t anybody call and offer support to my grandma, who was trying to raise a 13 year old ‘adult child’ whose whole world had just been torn apart. Everyone knew the situation the school, Police, centrelink, the prison where my parents were, but why didn’t anyone step in.

I am 23 years old and have seen a lot. It’s made me the person I am today. I wanted to be everything opposite of what they all said. My parents always said to me, ‘that I can do anything I want to do in this world, as long as I work hard enough’. They also drilled into me about how shit your life can become with drugs in it. Another main reason I haven’t tried drugs for the simple reason I knew I would like it, who wouldn’t want to escape from all the fucked-up bullshit. I hated drugs. I hated what it had done to my family and the impact it had on me, and I didn’t even use them! I’ve been going to counselling for the past 2 years and I didn’t realise how angry I was at my parents, at authority and people in general. My past has given me life experience, resilience, and strengths, but it took me 2 years of counselling to be able to see that in myself.

As a community we need to work together to support us kids. Remember that we didn’t choose the situation we were put into but with positive support, role models and peer education in our lives it can determine what choices we take in the future. We don’t deserve to be tarred with the same brush.