Emu Park mum of five rebuilds a life torn apart by ice
EMU Park resident Hayley Holt is a shining example of how to put your life back together after reaching an all-time low that could well have ended the mother of five's life.
Hayley's story is one of despair, drugs, violence, loss and ultimately one of strength and loving support that helped the 39-year-old rebuild her life.
Today, Hayley loves herself more than she ever has before but that wasn't always the case.
Raised by loving parents who were active members of their community, Hayley had a somewhat privileged life with doting parents.
At 16 she met the man who would become her husband. By 17 she had moved out of home and by 23 she had married and given birth to two children.
Hayley said she worked in high level administration positions at the mines and was a doting mother.
"I had taken party drugs on occasion in my 20s but my main responsibility was to my husband and my children," Hayley said.
"At 23 my husband and I moved to Blackwater and it was at this time that everything started to go wrong.''
Hayley still took recreational drugs occasionally until at the age of 33 a favour for a friend would change her life forever.
"My friend was broke. She convinced me to get drugs to sell and make a profit to improve both our financial situations," she said.
"I made a phone call and had a heap dropped off to me within days. I was petrified as if someone had put a bomb on my lap.
"We got the drugs, unfortunately everything went wrong. My friend didn't pay for her share and others who got drugs didn't pay.
"With the stress of everything and owing money to people, I felt forced to continue selling drugs to try to make up the money that I owed.
"Progressively, my own use of speed and ice increased. I went from dipping now and then to injecting. It was a vicious circle."
Hayley said she was caught by police and charged with trafficking. She spent two days in Rockhampton watchhouse before getting out on bail. This was her first warning and for the next few months she stayed clean, but it wasn't to last.
"I relapsed when I met a man who later became the father of my fifth child. He was a user and a cook (ice)," she said.
"The relationship was toxic, violent and I spiralled out of control. I lost myself completely and couldn't find a way out in spite of parents who offered moral support throughout the worst of it.
"I look back now and desperately regret my treatment of the people who loved me and tried so hard to help."
At 24 weeks' pregnant, Hayley said she and her partner were charged with producing prohibited substances.
Hayley said at this point her ex-husband stepped in and removed their four children from her care.
"I lost everything, my beautiful children, my home, all my possessions and my self-respect. I could see the pain I had caused my family and others who loved me and I knew at that point I had to do something to turn my life around," Hayley said.
"I was sentenced to four years in jail in November 2013 with a minimum 12 months to serve. At this stage my youngest child was only five months old.
"With a lot of help I was able to take my son into jail with me although it was a huge struggle with people inside making my life miserable for the 14 months I served.
"I knew what I had to do, though, so I held my head high and did what I could to change every part of myself. There would be no more lies or deceit, only honesty from that point on."
Hayley took several self-improvement courses while in jail but with no rehabilitation available, and listed as someone who had a high risk of reusing, she set about changing herself and in January 2015 was released on parole and went to live with her parents.
"While inside, I had three aunties who I had hardly known write and visit me. They encouraged me and gave me the strength to change, they were my three guardian angels.
"It was with their help that I learned to forgive myself, the guilt will always be there but I knew to move forward I would need to begin the journey of learning to love myself.
"My mother also came to visit every few weeks and was one of my strongest advocates.
"In March 2015 I moved to Zilzie to be closer to my children who lived in Emu Park. My ex-husband allowed me to see them a few times a week and we began the journey of repairing the damage I had caused. I continued to grow stronger and more confident."
It was not long after this time that Hayley met Brooke Roberts, from Meridian Accounting and Business Services, while at the Family Court to request greater access to her children.
"We just clicked. I told her my story as we sat waiting for several hours and it obviously touched a chord because just two days later my solicitor phoned me to tell me Brooke wanted to offer me a position at her business," Hayley said.
"She saw something in me and believes everyone deserves a second chance.
"I started part-time with Brooke in June 2015 and eventually my hours were increased. She has been so supportive and encouraging.
"My father retired to be able to come and spend time with me and ensure I was heading on the right path. He has been very pleased to see that I have continued to do the right thing.
"I have been straight and clean now for four years and two months. I have had a strong network of people there to help me and love them all for that.
"I own all the mistakes I made. I can never make up for some of the things I did and the pain I caused my loved ones but I am at peace with it.
"I like the person I have become and am proud of what I have been able to achieve with the love and support of others."
Now Hayley hopes to be able to support others who are going through the endless cycle of drug abuse.
"I want to be a voice for others, rebuilding your life can be very hard but it can be done," she said.
"I hit rock bottom, some people still see me as just an ex-user, but I am telling my story with complete honesty because I want to help others."