Every weekday morning, Christine Vann catches the train from Gisborne, in central Victoria, to Melbourne.

She gets off the train at Southern Cross station, catches a tram to her office on Bourke St, puts in an eight-hour day, then does it all again in reverse to get home. It sounds like an ordinary journey, but it’s not. Christine lives with the daily pain common to sufferers of osteoarthritis, a degenerative and chronic joint disease that causes stiffness, swelling and pain. 

Two years ago she fell while the train she was on was pulling into the station. In the middle of her working life she had a choice: quit her job or accept some help. “I can’t tell you how many times someone has kicked my walking stick out from beneath me and kept walking and then when I had the accident my friends became even more anxious and worried for me,” Christine says. “Then they dragged me into the Travellers Aid office and my life changed.” 

“I’m so passionate about the service, because it has quite literally saved my way of life,” she says. “Each morning there’s someone in a buggy waiting for me to get off the train and help me to the tram stop. If something goes wrong, they can help me. “It gives me great peace of mind. I’d be on a disability pension by now without them, and probably housebound.” 

“They help me get through the everyday — I wouldn’t be able to see out my own dreams without their assistance.”

Christine Vann, Client

Story courtesy of The Weekly Times, photo Greg Scullin