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.

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.

What to do? Homelessness Conference offers solutions

The Burdekin Association, Newsletter Image, Homelessness

Did you know? The number of young Australians identified as homeless increased by 2,500 to 46,000 between 2016 and 2021 (Australian Census data). 

This was a key finding of the National Children and Youth Homelessness Conference that was held late last month in Melbourne. 

The conference brought together key people to raise awareness of the fact that the incidence of children and young people needing and seeking help from homelessness services has not reduced significantly since the Rudd government in 2008 committed to halving homelessness by 2020. 

The conference aimed to mobilise a collective commitment to develop a joint government-NGO strategy to address child and youth homelessness nationally.

Other key findings released during the Conference (and featured in the ‘It’s Time’ report by the Youth Development Agency, included: 

  • Two out of five people considered to be homeless were children or young people under 24 years of age. 
  • Around 17,646 homeless people were aged under 12.
  • Approximately 36 per cent of the young homeless people identified as First Nations people. 
The Burdekin Association, Newsletter Image, Homelessness

The report also advised that to address the causes of homelessness and reduce the impact of homelessness, services and systems need to be transformed from (mostly) crisis intervention services to prevention and early intervention approaches – a solution that would neither be simple nor quick, but more effective.

The report states: “Many young people experiencing homelessness find moving into a fully independent living situation to be difficult because they are passing through a major developmental stage in life. Homelessness has a major impact on the successful completion of secondary school, participation in post-secondary education or training, and gaining secure employment.”

“In addition to stable housing, young people need to be supported into and through education and/or employment. Linking housing with education and training supports and into employment is the best way to ensure a transition to independence and to avoid future homelessness.”

Professor Brian Burdekin AO, Patron of The Burdekin Association gave the key note address at the conference and recently wrote an Opinion Editorial article for John Menadue’s Public Policy Journal, ‘Pearls and Irritations’.

“Federal, state and local governments need to work together with community organisations to develop a specific plan to address child and youth homelessness — to prevent them continuing to experience homelessness into their adult years. Their pathways into homelessness, their vulnerability and the assistance they need, are frequently very different to adults.”

Professor Brian Burdekin AO, Patron of the Burdekin Association

“Some of the rapidly growing number of homeless children we are now looking after at the Burdekin Association in Sydney are as young as seven years old. The problems confronting these children and young people include family poverty and isolation; the scarcity of low-cost housing alternatives; failure to provide any follow-up support for children who have been wards of the state; the inadequacy or complete absence of mental health facilities in rural and regional areas (where our youth suicide rate is double that of our major cities); and failure to implement programs for family support and early intervention strategies which could assist children at risk of becoming homeless,” Professor Brian Burdekin continued.

Read Professor Brian Burdekin’s speech at the National Children & Youth Homelessness Conference here.

For help:

In an emergency, call 000

Home Stretch


The Home Stretch is a national campaign formed to seek change to the current leaving care arrangements for young people in care with the aim to extend the leaving care age from 18 to 21 years of age. Based on our experience, we agree with the organisers and other signaturees that the Out-of-Home Care system should support vulnerable youth until they’re 21.

Why now?

It is time things change in line with society’s expectations of what a young person should achieve, in particular, the level of education and training expected in order to be independent and earn enough money to support their own household.

The 2009 survey conducted by the CREATE foundation on care leavers (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2010) demonstrated that:

  • 35% were homeless in the first year of leaving care;
  • 46% of boys were involved in the juvenile justice system;
  • 29% were unemployed;

Furthermore, a study by the Care Leavers Australia Network (2008) reported that:

  • 41% were pregnant during their adolescence;
  • 43% – 65% of care leavers have poor mental health outcomes (including depression, Anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks and sleep disorders).

Taken from the Home Stretch website, you can read more here.

We think they deserve better, we think we can do better

Over 80% of young Australians aged 18 to 21 live at home with their families, do you believe a young person should be kicked out of home at the age of 18? We don’t – these are vulnerable young people who have no family support, emotional or financial, to fall back on. These young people have often been moved to different homes multiple times throughout their lives and then cut off on their 18th birthday.

The Commissioner’s report on leaving care found that one third of young people become homeless within 3 years of leaving care, half require mental health services and 70% live below the poverty line.

The cost of extending the age to 21

Deloitte Access Economics conducted a report on the socioeconomic costs and benefits of extending care exit from the age of 18 to the age of 21 in Victoria for Anglicare Victoria. This report found that the return on investment was almost 2:1, that is for every $1 invested in the program there is an expected return of $1.84 in either savings or increased income.

You can read more about the Deloitte Report here.

Victoria has already extended the age of leaving care to 21, WA has piloted a program, NSW, QLD, NT, WA are hopefully next.

More than 19,000 children in NSW were in care in 2018-2019 (AIHW)

Paul McDonald is the CEO of Anglicare Victoria, is the Chair of Home Stretch will be speaking at the National Youth Homelessness Conference, which will also feature our very own patron Professor Brian Burdekin, AO.

What can you do?

Sign the pledge and share the campaign on social media, send to family and friends to sign too. Use the hashtags #homestretch #makeit21

3rd National Homelessness Forum

3rd National Homelessness Conference

The 3rd National Homelessness Forum 2021 takes place 27th – 29th April. The National Homelessness Forum is a hybrid event hosted both in-person from Perth and live-streamed. You can follow the event with hashtag #NationalHomelessnessForum2021.

Homelessness is increasing, in fact it has increased 13.7% in the past five years and it is expected to rise further as a result of the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Given this fact, it has never been a more critical time for Australia to put homelessness at the top of the political agenda.

Take a look at the National Homelessness Form 2021 for more information a full list of key speakers, agenda, workshops and registration.

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.