Delphine Jai-Neve: street kid turned author
Delphine Jai-Neve (Jamet) works tirelessly campaigning for young people who have slipped through the cracks, lobbying the government on its Northbridge policy and advocating several projects to benefit inner city youth - all at the age of 19.
As a 17 year-old, Delphine found herself needing to escape a troubled home life. Enticed by the mystery of an underworld she knew little about, she became a street kid, calling Forrest Place and the city streets her home.
"It was a different, new world," she says. "I didn't know anything about it. I had a lot of friends who were on the streets at the time and I was drinking heavily. It just seemed the alternative choice really."
Delphine had been writing non-stop from the age of nine, scribbling out manuscripts in notebooks while spending her life avoiding the police and sleeping under cardboard. When she pitched the idea for a book, Streetkid in the City, to publisher Allen & Unwin, they said yes before it was even finished. The book was published in 2001, and while it wasn't a blockbuster, it sold enough to set her up and get her off the streets. The text is now often used in high school curriculum. She used the opportunity to turn her life around.
Delphine is determined to make a difference and is now working on several projects to improve the quality of life for city youth. One such project aims to develop a youth centre where youth can meet and attend courses, which may improve their chances of gaining employment. In order to get the project off the ground, Delphine has researched potential land, costs, education programs, schedules and has also started lobbying various groups around the city for advice and support.
Having experienced life and social injustice from a rare perspective when she was living on the streets, Delphine says she wouldn't change that time for anything.
"Half of my ideas wouldn't have come if I hadn't been on the streets," she says. "I'm more aware of the situation other people face, instead of the mainstream life. Very few people see the non-mainstream kids as just running around - they see them as groups and gangs, always troublemakers - but they don't see the problems that I've seen." - PP