CJ is a 20-year-old young man, who first came to Burdekin when he was 14.  CJ spoke at The Chappel Foundation’s fundraiser in July 2021. He spoke openly about his journey and the amazing support he has since received from the Burdekin Association. We are incredibly proud of the young man CJ has become, his courage to speak at this event and to allow his story to be shared with you all.

“I was removed from my mother and stepfather at the age of five, because of neglect, abuse and a few other things. I was placed with my older sisters, father, his partner and their family. Unfortunately, they struggled with eight children and the Department of Justice and Community Services decided I needed to be moved.

I was placed with ‘nan’, a lovely woman who I connected well with growing up for 9 years. I saw my mother during that time at bi-monthly meetings.

Sadly, nan was diagnosed with emphysema, it shocked us all and unfortunately at the time it was the most disappointing thing for me… I was so close to her. Nan’s son took us in but soon after, nan passed away. This killed me emotionally and mentally, I became suicidal and depressed, nothing was left for me. I attempted suicide on many, many occasions, I was self-harming and felt that I just couldn’t live.

My living situation at the time deteriorated too and I requested to be moved. The Department of Justice and Community Services put me in touch with Burdekin – the greatest thing that ever happened to me. They put me into a carer situation… a very scary new experience.

I lived with my carer called Lynn and she helped me to become the best version of me that I have ever experienced. I lived with Lynn for 7 years. I felt like I was becoming an aggressive teenager and didn’t want Lynn to have that stress. I asked Burdekin if I could move on. They put me in a program called SIL.

I lived in an apartment block that they own and they taught me how to pay bills, shop for groceries – all sorts. Burdekin funded the shopping and subsidised my rent. I had a job with help from them, they helped with my resume and practiced interview skills and communication with me – I couldn’t be any more grateful for all of this. I would like all kids who end up in the care system or homeless to go to Burdekin because they will have the best life they could possibly have.

Burdekin supported me in another relocation and finding another job at a cinema – ushering and selling tickets. They helped me with a lot, they are the best. I had my great Case Manager Huzzy with me for about 3 years. He was more than a Case Worker, he was like a best mate. If I was feeling down, if I didn’t feel like myself or wanted to self-harm, he was there to say: ‘you’ve got this’. He motivated me to get a job and to keep it even when it sucked. I lost my job because of Covid and Huzzy has been helping me to find a new one and to build my confidence more and more.

I have a new Case Manager Olivia, she helps me with all of this now. I am with the Youth Housing option, where I pay subsidised rent and pay for all my own bills and groceries. I am very thankful to Burdekin for what they have done for me with this SIL program. It has made me realise how much kids need a program like this and people like Burdekin. I want to thank Huzzy – for always being there, being my best friend when I had no one. I would also like to thank Justene, the CEO for taking me in, two youth workers who have been helping me out with doctors appointments and other things Sio (Youth Worker) and Joubert (Youth Coordinator) and the last thanks is to the Chappel Foundation for letting me share a bit of my life with you. View CJ’s entire speech in the video below.

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.