Foster Carers


Foster Care and Kinship Week 2023

Foster Care and Kinship Week 2023

“More than 100 vulnerable children and young people are living in alternative emergency housing, such as hotels and motels, as the child protection system faces a dire shortage of Foster Carers,” reported Amber Schultz in The Sun Herald on September 10, 2023, the start of Foster Care and Kinship Week.

According to the report in the Herald, “There are around 15,000 children and young people in the NSW child protection system. The shortage of Foster Carers has resulted in an increasing number of children being housed in residential care.”

The Department of Communities and Justice estimates that an extra 600 Foster Carers are needed a year to take care of children who cannot live safely at home.

NSW Minister for Families and Communities, Kate Washington has used Foster Care and Kinship Week to make an urgent plea for more parents to sign up as Foster Carers.

“Each year, 600 new Foster Carers are needed in NSW to take care of children who can’t live safely at home. Carers can be family members or foster carers, and come from a diverse range of backgrounds and all walks of life.

All carers receive training, support and an allowance to help them throughout their care journey.”

Kate Washington, NSW Minister for Families and Communities.

Learn about becoming a Foster Carer here

The Burdekin Association hosted a stall at the Addison Road Community Markets in Marrickville on Sunday September 10, 2023 to discuss volunteering and foster caring opportunities at The Burdekin Association.

“The Burdekin Association loves to be a part of the local community. We want to partner with people who would like to understand the work that The Burdekin Association does with young people aged between 9 and 24. We believe that people in the community generally wish to help young people who haven’t had the best start in life – to have an opportunity to develop their skills and their confidence. The Burdekin Association provides that opportunity for the right people,” said Jill Wrathal Strategic Projects / Volunteer Manager with The Burdekin Association.

“Being Foster Care and Kinship Week, The Burdekin Association is looking for Foster Carers who have the right attributes, who love teenagers, and who are also very patient.”

Jill Wrathall, Strategic Projects / Volunteer Manager with The Burdekin Association.

The Burdekin Association provides free accommodation to Foster Carers. We rent houses all around Sydney in locations that are mutually agreed. As a Foster Carer, once you have received the training and been assessed as suitable, we are able to match you with a young person and provide a house for you in a location that meets both the needs of the young person and of you and your family situation.

“Foster Carers provide the ideal environment for a young person to thrive in. Foster Carers can be people at all different stages of life – we can have people in their 20’s, people in their 70’s. What they provide is a stable, consistent, loving home environment for a young person who has experienced not so many good things in their life. Often there has been trauma, abuse, neglect and these young people need to be given a stable, consistent home environment where they have their own bedroom, feel safe, and where the Foster Carer provides a consistent framework of support for them and they can engage with education and work opportunities as any child growing up in a family would want to do.”

Jill Wrathall, Strategic Projects / Volunteer Manager with The Burdekin Association.

Foster caring isn’t easy, but for the right people, it can be so rewarding to make a difference in the life of a young person. That’s why The Burdekin Association has its volunteering program. It’s a gentle entry point, with some volunteers going on to become Foster Carers.

Some ways that people in the community can volunteer as mentors to young people, is by helping them with:

  • Their education
  • Obtaining a driver’s licence
  • Learner driving supervision
  • Learning to cook
  • Learning to catch public transport
  • Developing their skills and their confidence

Take the quiz to see if you can become a Foster Carer

Home Stretch Make it 21 Campaign Update

Home Stretch Make it 21

The Home Stretch advocacy began in 2016 when 160 organisations joined forces to lobby for significant reforms for young people in out-of-home care.

At the end of 2022 the NSW government announced universal extended care to 21 years for young people in State Care from February 2023. The announcement means that every state and territory government in Australia agreed to provide vulnerable young people in foster care with support to the age of 21 years. At the time our CEO, Justene Gordon, said:

‘We thank all the young people, those with lived experience and others, who championed this effort. Ensuring young people in care have a fair, equitable, robust and real opportunity for all that life brings is what we all strive for’.

Since reform

  • States and Territories began to legislate reform to foster care to implement the age change.
  • Advocates say, the changes are too slow and much more needs to be done.

Talking about it recently in the media the Chair of the Home Stretch coalition, Paul McDonald said:

There is still a lot of work to be done. Supports for young people differ between states and they continue to have problems accessing housing. It’s time for the Australian Government to step up and help with this.”

Mr. McDonald also calls for a push for increased housing and social support for young people transitioning out of foster care.

There are also reports that the rising cost of living is exacerbating the foster carer shortage as providing care and support is getting more difficult because of the rising cost of living.

National Youth Homelessness Conference

The next National Youth Homelessness Conference takes place 24-25th July and will focus on child and youth homelessness. Organisers say, it is time that the Australian government committed to developing a national plan to address child and youth homelessness. This conference will mobilise a collective commitment to developing a joint government-NGO strategy to address child and youth homelessness nationally.

We are delighted that our Patron, Prof. Brian Burdekin AO, will deliver the opening address and our CEO, Justene Gordon, will also present at the conference.

Celebrating our Volunteers

Burdekin youth support services

Our Volunteer Program was launched in 2020 during National Volunteer Week and every year since, we celebrate our volunteers and their contribution to the organisation with a nice meal, warm words and certificates of appreciation. Check out the photos below, it could be you next year if you want to become part of our Burdekin family.

We have all been inspired by our Burdekin volunteers this week. Our regular volunteers act as role models and mentors to a young person. They turn up consistently for two hours each week to do an agreed activity e.g. cooking a meal, L driving hours or education support. We also celebrated with our very special volunteers, our Foster Carers ,who have been thoroughly assessed and authorised as Burdekin Foster Carers and have given a young person a caring, nurturing home.

One of our foster carers shared:

“I have always wanted to foster a teenager but just this year, the time has become right to do it. Even though it’s been challenging at times, it is so worthwhile to provide a safe home where she has been able to relax and feel she belongs.”

We are so grateful for people in our community who step out of their comfort zone and choose to connect with a young person who needs trusted adult role models in their life.

We need more volunteers in South East and Inner West Sydney, to inquire, please email us at:

Causes of youth homelessness – bereavement

Youth Homelessness - parental bereavement

According to CREATE Foundation, there were 45,000 children and young people living in out-of-home care across Australia between June 2018 to 2019. However, this number changes every year as children and young people come in and out of the care system… you can read more here.

What is the leading cause of homelessness in young people?

According to AIWH, in 2019–20, three of the main reasons young people aged 15–24 sought assistance from specialist homelessness services were a housing crisis (17%), family and domestic violence (17%) and inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions (12%).


Another reason we might not hear about is parental bereavement. Did you know that 1 in 20 children in Australia will lose a parent by the time they’re 18?

Death of a parent can be an extremely stressful time for a child or young person even if they have the support of the other parent. What if they don’t – who takes care of the children? Usually it would be settled by the court in consultation with family but in the event there is nobody able or willing to, then the child would be placed in out of home care and the agency would try to find a suitable foster family.

When the bereavement happens with a young person they may come to Burdekin, where we offer wraparound, therapeutic care for the child or young person.

We recently listened to Dr Justin Coulson’s Happy Families podcast with his guest speaker Kristy Thomas, Co-Founder of Feel the Magic and the topic of Helping Kids Cope With Grief. Kristy says’ Feel the Magic was borne out of her own and her husbands bereavement and lack of resources in Australia.

Feel the Magic hold virtual and face-to-face camps teaching emotional literacy, coping strategies, tools to self-regulate and self soothe and they also get to meet others who are going through the same thing. Anxiety, dysregulation, overwhelm, isolation, withdrawal and risk-taking behaviours. A child who has had a significant bereavement before the age of 18 is six times more likely to die by suicide. Have a listen. Helping Kids Cope With Grief

Reasons to consider Foster Care

Young people in need of homes

Right here, in Sydney, there are children and young people in need of a safe and stable home. A home could be provided by one person, two people or any existing family unit. Whether the home mimics a traditional family, or a non-traditional family type unit, is not as important as whether young people have a safe place and nurturing carers.

Could this be you?

Could you provide a safe, caring and nurturing environment to provide the foundation to overcome challenges in order for a young person to live their life to their full of potential? Could you experience the privilege of walking side by side a young person as they grow, as their personality begins to emerge, and they find their footing and grow in confidence?

As at June 2020, in Australia almost 46,000 children were in out-of-home care.

Being a Foster Carer with us

The children and young people in our care are considered ‘older’, as they are between the ages of 9 and 18, but most of our children and young people are teenagers. Embarking on a journey as a carer may appear challenging but it need not be, at Burdekin we are able to support you through your journey to becoming a carer and will walk alongside you each step of the journey. As a Burdekin Foster Carer you are part of a team. We don’t stop providing support following your initial training, our team provide ongoing, wrap-around support on an ongoing basis. This included post placement with a young person in care.

We would love to hear from you if you think you could provide a safe place for one of these young people – we can also support you with accommodation, if that may be a barrier to providing care for young people.

Children and young people who are in the Out of Home Care system have all come from “hard places”. They all have a history of trauma and broken attachments and that may mean that as a carer, you may need to learn to manage their big feelings and emotions with a little more skills and training, but we will be working alongside you to provide you with that support. Remember that older foster children and young people are just like any children and young people – in need of love, stability, and a secure home, to thrive. These bright individuals will have stuff to work through, building a connection may take a bit of time, but if you hang in there, you may get to see the walls come down as you learn more about them and they learn to trust you.

Are you a little bit curious about how it would work for you? Please chat to us and find out how it’s possible.

We acknowledge the Aboriginal people of the Cadigal and Gayamaygal Clans. We acknowledge the Country on which we live, work, and gather as being Aboriginal land.

We acknowledge the lands, waterways and skies that are connected to Aboriginal people. We honour them and pay our deepest respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

We respect their rightful place within our communities, and we value their ancient cultural knowledge and practices.

Aboriginal Flag
Torres Straight Island Flag

We deeply respect that this will always be Aboriginal land and we will honour and follow the first peoples’ values in caring for the Country and for preserving their culture.

We deeply value that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the oldest living culture in the world and we will continue to work with their peoples and communities to ensure their cultures endure and remain strong.