Scholarships donation sparks transformation!

Professor Brian Burdekin, AO Patron of The Burdekin Association

The Burdekin Association is proud to announce that our patron, Professor Brian Burdekin AO, has generously donated $20,000 today to The Burdekin Association to fund 20 young people’s further education scholarships. These are for young people in our care.

Professor Burdekin has made a firm commitment to contribute $200,000 over the next 10 years for these scholarships.

Today being Youth Homelessness Matters Day, is the day Professor Burdekin chose to announce his donation.

The scholarships will be tailored to meet the needs of young people pursuing further education, and can be used to purchase books, pay for tuition fees, or subject-related educational tutoring.

“Education improves access to opportunities such as employment, healthcare, housing, family, community, travel, and playing a full part in society with dignity.

I anticipate that the 20 scholarships created from my donation will have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of the young people, and I hope that my donation may encourage others to make a similar gesture.”

Professor Brian Burdekin, AO Patron of The Burdekin Association

Many of the young people who come to The Burdekin Association did not attend sufficient schooling in their formative years. As a result, they are likely to have low literacy and poor self esteem, while needing to recover from the trauma of the challenges that caused their situation in the first place, such as family conflict.

Scholarships like this, assist a young person who is keen to commence or continue with their higher education to receive that opportunity, realise their potential and reach their goals.

To find out more about the positive difference that education makes to young people’s lives, click here.

About Professor Brian Burdekin AO

Professor Brian Burdekin, AO has left a lasting legacy to two of Australia’s most disadvantaged groups – homeless children and people with mental illness.  During his term as Federal Human Rights Commissioner, he presented two landmark reports: a National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness in 1989 and National Inquiry into the Human Rights of People with Mental Illness in 1983.

Read more about Professor Burdekin here. And, read Professor Burdekin’s article, ‘Government is failing our most vulnerable children’ here.

About Youth Homelessness Matters Day

Homelessness Matters Day is a national day that aims to raise awareness and public discussion about child and youth homelessness. It’s been held every year since 1990 and has grown into a national commemoration of young people’s resilience. It’s also a day for Yfoundations and other services like The Burdekin Association to seek innovative solutions to support the needs of children and young people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. It’s a day that’s showcased online and in communities around Australia. Read more here.

Over 38,000 young people aged 15–24 years presented alone to a homelessness service in 2022–23. Of these young people, almost half experienced mental ill-health and over one third experienced domestic and family violence. 

The majority of these young people were in need of short-or long-term accommodation and most were turned away due to a lack of capacity.

To read more about Youth Homelessness Matters Day, click here.

People’s Commission into Homelessness

People's Commission into Homelessness

Have you heard of Everybody’s Home? It’s a national campaign that’s aimed at fixing the housing crisis in Australia. It’s organised on behalf of homelessness and welfare organisations, including: National Shelter, Mission Australia, Shelter NSW, Tenants Union of NSW and Homelessness Australia, among numerous others.

Why is there a housing crisis in the first place?

“Fundamentally, the only way to make housing more affordable is to build more of it where people want to live. And arguably, we haven’t been doing enough of that. That’s part of why housing is expensive in some parts of Australia,”

Proptrack, Real Estate Appraiser in Sydney

A timeline of how the housing crisis occurred in Australia:

(According to ‘Forbes Advisor‘)

  • High levels of home ownership after World War II, due to low land prices.
  • World War II price controls on land and rents cease.
  • Land close to Australia’s city centres becomes more scarce.
  • Price rises average three to four per cent over the 1950 – 1980’s.
  • Deregulation of the financial sector during the 1980’s results in increased competition, low inflation, low interest rates.
  • Demand increases for property in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
  • Introduction of tax concessions on property investment in the 1980’s in the form of negative gearing, capital gains tax exemptions and interest deductibility results in increased demand for home lending.
  • Migration increases the Australian population to 26 million between 2000 – 2024.
  • Shortage of land suitable for residential housing becomes apparent.
  • Federal governments respond to first home buyers being ‘locked out of the property market’ by offering initiatives like the First Home Buyer Scheme. Some experts believe these have made housing more expensive, as they boost demand further.

National Conversation about the Housing Crisis

The 500 organisational supporters of Everybody’s Home are seeking to hold a People’s Commission into Homelessness, where individuals and organisations across Australia can contribute to a national conversation about the housing crisis, its impacts and what can be done to fix it. They are encouraging all people to share their story about how the housing crisis is affecting them and their community.

It will refer to:

  1. The experiences of people struggling to access affordable and suitable housing.
  2. The flow-on impacts of the housing crisis.
  3. The impacts of current policy settings on housing affordability and access to housing.
  4. Actions that can be taken by governments to improve affordability and access to housing

What happens next?

The Everybody’s Home Commissioners will review submissions between now and May 2024 and draft a report summarising the key findings.

The Commissioners are:

  • Doug Cameron, a former trade unionist and Senator for New South Wales with the Australian Labor Party.
  • Professor Nicole Curran – Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Sydney, where she directs the University’s Henry Halloran Research Trust. 

The Commission will then culminate in a series of in-person hearings, where members of the community will be invited to share their story directly with Commissioners and the media. 

Dr Sophie Scamps’ People’s Jury on Housing

With the same theme in mind, in June 2024, Dr. Sophie Scamps, Independent Federal Member for Mackellar will be hosting a People’s Jury on Housing to find solutions to the housing crisis that will work for Mackellar on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

The People’s Jury is a group of citizens invited to form a jury, who will spend a day deliberating on the housing crisis from many perspectives, with the aim being to come up with three policy priorities that Dr. Sophie Scamps can advocate for in Canberra. Dr. Sophie Scamps is working in partnership with The newDemocracy Foundation, a not for profit research organisation that promotes community participation in politics.

The panel presentation by the People’s Jury on Housing will be presented online on Saturday June 15.

How to fix the housing crisis?

According to the organisers of the Everybody’s Home campaign, there are simple things that the Federal Government can do to make our housing system work for everybody:

  • Wind back the tax concessions for investors.
  • Improve the affordability and availability of rental properties by supporting the creation of 500,000 properties for people on low and middle incomes.
  • Create long term security for renters.
  • Ease rental stress by increasing rent assistance.
  • Commit to ending homelessness by providing preventative and rapid homelessness support when people in need lose their homes.

The Everybody’s Home campaign advocates for social and affordable housing, as both forms help to address the housing crisis and create a more equitable and inclusive society.

The federal government’s Housing Accord (signed between federal and state governments last year), aims to construct one million new homes over five years from 2024, by using private capital, including superannuation funds.

It is aiming to build 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes over five years by establishing a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund.

Youth Homelessness Matters Day

Youth Homelessness Matters Day 2024

Across Australia in 2022-23, almost 39,000 young people (15-24 years of age) presented alone to a specialist homelessness service. Of these young people, the majority were in need of short or long term accommodation.

Half of the young people who tried to get a bed in a crisis refuge in 2022-23 were turned away because services couldn’t accommodate them.

Around a third of young people that presented to specialist homelessness services had experienced domestic and family violence. And, around a third of young people presenting along to specialist homelessness services identified as Indigenous to Australia.

It is becoming clear, according to Yfoundations, the broader rental, housing and cost of living crisis is putting more pressure on homeless service providers and making it harder for children and young people to find a home.

Yfoundations is the peak body for youth homelessness in NSW. For over 40 years, yfoundations has represented and advocated for children and young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness, and the services that support them. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) data 202-23 advises that the capacity of homelessness services has fallen by almost 17,000 clients a year and services face a $73 million funding shortfall from June 2024 (Yfoundations media release, December 2023.)

In 2022-23, three in 10 clients at specialist homelessness services (SHS) were under the age of 18. Almost 40,000 of SHS clients in 2022-23 were children and young people (15-24) presenting on their own. Similar to previous years, females and First Nations people were overrepresented in these figures.


Wednesday April 17, 2024 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day. It’s a national day that aims to raise awareness and public discussion about child and youth homelessness. It’s been held every year since 1990 and has grown into a national commemoration of young people’s resilience. It’s also a day for yfoundations and other services like The Burdekin Association to seek innovative solutions to support the needs of children and young people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. It’s a day that’s showcased online and in communities around Australia.

“Every day in 2022/23, 295 people who needed a crisis bed or help were turned away because services were at capacity. We believe, these numbers will be much higher in reality, because we know that children and young people will couch surf, remain in violent homes, or sleep rough because they have no idea that services exist. Even if they did, the report demonstrates they are unlikely to get a bed tonight because services are full.”

Trish Connolly, yfoundations CEO

Yfoundations is hoping that these statistics will be taken into consideration when the federal government develops the National Housing and Homelessness Plan and Agreement this year.

Yfoundations’ view is that the solution lies in increasing the funding for crisis homelessness services, so that children and young people are not living in unsafe and violent situations, and that the federal government commits to standalone homelessness and housing plans to end child and youth homelessness. Their submission aims to demonstrate how failures of the child protection system and other service systems have had significant impacts on the youth homelessness service system.

The plan will need to respond to the diversity and complexity of young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to support their transition into a future of self reliance and wellbeing. It should be part of a national approach in responding to housing supply shortages.

To find out more about Youth Homelessness Matters Day, click here.

Community Matters

Justene Gordon, Graham Bargwanna and Emelia Weaver of The Burdekin Association at the 2023 Annual Northern Beaches Breakfast Fundraiser

We are always saying how much our community matters to us, especially at Christmas – because we mean it. The Burdekin Association can honestly do so much, because of you.

We’d like to shout out a big thank you to the following organisations and people…

2023 Northern Beaches Annual Fundraiser Business Breakfast

Thank you to the 2023 Northern Beaches Annual Fundraiser Business Breakfast for announcing in November that The Burdekin Association is a recipient of their fundraising efforts. We are so grateful to be one of the three organisations to be a beneficiary! We received $4,000 during the fundraising event.

Addi Road Community Organisation

We are so thankful to the Addi Road Community Organisation, who once again has provided our young people with deluxe holiday hampers, as part of their ‘Hampers of Hope’ program. Last year, 66 of our young people received a hamper. They were brimming with chocolates, gifts, toys and other luxury items. Thank you so much Addi Road Community Organisation!

Palmolive ANZ

It’s amazing the difference that one donation can make! We received a donation of many bottles of lovely shampoo to give to our young people. Thank you Palmolive ANZ.

Palmolive Shampoo

Share the Dignity

Thank you to Share the Dignity. They donated some beautiful handbags filled with essential items, everyday luxury goods and handwritten notes for young women, girls and those who menstruate to feel a little bit of love and hope this Christmas.

Hillsong Church

Thank you Hillsong Church for your generous donation of hampers. Staff from our Youth Services team gratefully received them and the children and young people in our care will truly appreciate the gifts that you have so generously provided. Merry Christmas!

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Over the past five weeks, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles sought donations of gift cards for children and young people at Burdekin. We are truly grateful for the numerous gift cards that were donated – often these gifts are the only ones that a young person will receive at Christmas and the joy that it brings is immeasurable. Thank you to our community partner, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles!

Energize Health Club Belrose

Thank you, Energize Health Club Belrose, for donating some amazing Christmas presents for our young people! We are truly grateful!

Our Supporters

We couldn’t do the work that we do without our many generous supporters. We thank you and appreciate the trust that you put into us. We strive to do our very best by our young people.

The house diagram below features our supporters from the 2022/23 financial year.

We’ll be updating this post as more Christmas hampers, goodies and gifts arrive at our head office, to be distributed to the young people we support.

In the meantime, if you would like to give a gift card to a young person this Christmas, you can purchase a gift card from JB Hi-Fi, Rebel Sports, Kmart, Big W, Priceline / Sephora, EB Games, Westfields, Myer or David Jones and email it to us to at: burdekin.admin@burdekin.org.au.

Often these gifts are the only gift that a young person will receive at Christmas and the joy that it brings is immeasurable.

Professor Brian Burdekin on ABC Radio National

Professor Brian Burdekin

Click here to listen to the radio interview.

The Burdekin Association’s Patron and Australia’s first Federal Human Rights Commissioner, Professor Brian Burdekin AO spent over 30 years advocating for the needs of children – those with disabilities and mental illness.

He led two landmark reports: ‘National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness’ in 1989 and ‘Human Rights and Mental Illness’ in 1993.

And, he delivered the opening address at the recent National Youth Homelessness Conference held in July 2023 in Melbourne.

He recently spoke with Andy Park, Presenter of the Drawing Room on Radio National about youth homelessness.

Key highlights of the radio interview:

  • More than 40,000 young Australians spend each night without a home, and 18,000 of these are under the age of 12 (according to the most recent official Australian Census estimates).
  • Professor Burdekin’s mother’s career had a dramatic influence on him and his ambitions for advocating for children with disabilities. He witnessed first-hand her experience of raising five children, attending university and being a teacher of students with disabilities.
  • He realised that as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Australia still (in the mid 1980’s) had systemic discrimination against the hundreds of thousands of children who lived with disabilities and also people with mental illnesses.
  • He was named as Australia’s first Federal Human Rights Commissioner in 1986 and described Australians’ knowledge of human rights in Australia at the time as “being appalling”. He advised that 95 per cent of Australians at the time didn’t know what human rights were about, as the government had done “nothing about informing the general public that international treaties had been signed and were binding in international law in relation to the conventions on elimination of discrimination against women and the elimination of racial discrimination.”
  • He deplored the fact that Australia was the only country of 65 common law countries that did not have a Bill of Rights in their Constitution or federal legislation.
Homeless youth

“My advice to the Federal Government (to ensure that children and young people aren’t overlooked) is to have a national housing plan, to put more money into social housing, and to develop a specific holistic plan for homeless children and young people, as their pathways into homelessness are often different. The holistic plan should include life skills training, opportunities for education and housing.”

Professor Burdekin AO, Patron of The Burdekin Association

Further key highlights of the radio interview:

  • He went on to advise that The Burdekin Association is looking after a rapidly increasing number of homeless children – children that don’t have any adult to care for them or to protect them.
  • Australia has almost the lowest rate of social housing in the world – only 3.9 per cent of available housing stock.
  • He stated that 122,000 Australians are currently homeless, of which 18,000 people are under the age of 12, and that early intervention and prevention – assisting families that are in trouble, that are stressed out, that can’t make ends meet – is more cost effective as well as more appropriate for protecting human rights.
  • Following the ‘National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness’, Professor Burdekin bought an apartment block of eight units in Forster Tuncurry, on the NSW North Coast, and worked with the Mayor of Taree and the St Vincent De Paul Society, to look after and house homeless young people and children. During the time, he learnt the necessity of keeping young people in their local area, that private businesses are often willing to help financially, and the importance of keeping children in touch with their community.
  • He emphasized that 84 per cent of children currently being assisted by The Burdekin Association have mental health problems and many homeless children have undiagnosed mental health problems.

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.