Inner West


We’ve been awarded a FutureSteps Grant!

Stanmore House, a property to be renovated using the FutureSteps grant program.

The Burdekin Association is excited to reveal that we are the recipient of a FutureSteps Grant of $89,000 to be spent on renovating one of the houses we manage for young people transitioning from out of home care to semi-independent living in Sydney. The grant will help three additional young people transition into semi-independent living through the better use of space in the property. 

What is FutureSteps?

FutureSteps is a Lendlease Social Impact Fund that’s grounded in the belief that everyone needs to call a place home. Lendlease partners with The Burdekin Association to achieve long term impact through increasing the availability of safe and appropriate housing, the number of pathways to education and employment, and participation in the community. 

The FutureSteps Social Impact Fund focuses on addressing homelessness and increasing housing supply for those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The grants typically awarded range in amounts between $20,000 and $100,000 and one of their target groups includes young people. 

It all came about on Community Day – a day when Lendlease volunteers spend their time and skills to make a difference in the communities where they live and work. Thirty volunteers spent a day at our property doing painting, gardening, picture hanging, furniture building and much more in Stanmore. Katherine Bushell from Lendlease suggested that we apply for the FutureSteps grant. It took us one month to put it all together.

Claire Oxlade, Property and Asset Lead at The Burdekin Association

“Our tradie, Kevin, looked at our plans to reconfigure the layout of the space at the property to accommodate three more young people. He suggested that it would work,” continued Claire.  

During the grant application process, we submitted the property’s plans, renovation costings, and explained how we would reconfigure the layout of the property to create the extra space for an additional three young people in our care. For Lendlease to give us the entire grant – $89,000 – is amazing! We will be able to use the space more sensibly.

Claire Oxlade, Property and Asset Lead at The Burdekin Association

A self-contained two-bedroom unit can now be created at the front of the property. This reconfiguration will help to provide wraparound care for the young person living there – as they will remain close to staff and the other young people living in the remainder of the house, but also have space to themselves. It will potentially be perfect for a young single parent, who may need support, but also privacy and quiet.

The reconfiguration will also involve the renovation of the current staff office space and combined kitchen into a studio staff office / bedroom / kitchenette. 

“The staff at the property use the office a great deal, and renovating the current space to allow them to work and then be able to sleep overnight in a comfortable area will make such a difference,” Claire continued.

A staff bedroom upstairs at the property will then be released, to be used by an additional young person. 

The project has enthused local architect and sessional academic, Jamileh Jahangiri of Orsi Architecture Studio, who met with Burdekin staff members during a recent networking event. She has offered to provide her architectural knowledge free of charge and will project manage the renovation of the property. Jamileh will provide concept designs, design briefs and a schedule of proposed materials and finishes and furniture layouts. She is keen to see how the young residents can be involved in the renovation process – choosing paint colours, designing the layout of the rooms, and learning a bit of design along the way. 

If there are funds remaining once these renovations are complete, we hope to remove the kitchen cabinets, making the main kitchen more open plan, allowing for ‘Master Chef’ style cooking workshops to be held for the young people.

It’s so exciting. We wouldn’t normally be able to do anything like this. If we can make it more homely, well that’s my mission accomplished

Claire Oxlade, Property and Asset Lead at The Burdekin Association

What next?

The Burdekin Association is always looking for suppliers of white goods – fridges, washing machines, dryers, microwaves, air fryers and blenders, along with coffee tables, BBQs, outdoor furniture and kitchen utensils – to help our young people live comfortably in such a home. To donate a white good or to help our young people, please click here.  

Causes of youth homelessness – family breakdown

The Burdekin Association youth homelessness services

Family breakdown is one of the leading causes of youth homelessness in Australia today.

According to AIHW, in 2020–21, around 41,700 people aged 15–24 presented alone to SHS agencies, accounting for 15% of all SHS clients.

The main reasons these young people presented were:

  • family and domestic violence (17% or around 7,000 clients).
  • housing crisis (17% or around 7,000 clients).
  • relationship/family breakdown (13% or over 5,200 clients).

Other reasons include:

  • Difficult family situations such as parental drug and alcohol abuse, abuse, neglect
  • Leaving a parental home without stable employment
  • Leaving state care without an appropriate plan in place
  • Mental illness
  • Alcohol and other drug issues
  • Rejection or trauma associated with gender identity or expression
  • Discrimination in the private rental market due to lower income or lack of rental references
  • Insecure employment
  • Less access to social housing

Homelessness and the LGBTIQA+ community

In 2019 the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, with support from Rainbow Health Australia and Rainbow Network conducted a report called Writing Themselves in 4. Researchers asked 6,418 LGBTIQA+ people, aged 14 to 21 about their experiences with education, homelessness, harassment, assault, mental health, community connections and more.

23.6 per cent had experienced homelessness and for 11.5 per cent it was in the past year. This was often directly related to family rejection of participants being LGBTIQA+.

In the Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Statistics for LGBTQIA+ People from LGBTIQA+ LGBTIQA+ Health Australia. Young people aged 16 to 17 were over three times more likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress.

The Journeys Home report found that Family rejection was a major issue for LGBTIQA+ people, and their pathway to homelessness is more complex with discrimination also coming from the housing sector.

Getting help

There are a large number of support services available today, both for young people and their families. Having open conversations about sexuality and gender is helpful, as is keeping an open mind and above all letting your child know they are loved and accepted for who they are. If you are a parent who is having a hard time, getting support from any of these organisations may be helpful. You can also ask us, we assist families and community with a range of support services.

We believe everyone deserves to feel safe, to be loved and have a home. Let us know if you found this article helpful or if there is anything you would add?

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

Emerging Leaders Mentoring Program

Burdekin recently partnered with the City of Canada Bay Council and Ethnic Communities Council of NSW to deliver the Emerging Leaders Mentoring Program.

The aim of the program was to help build participants’ skills in leadership, advocacy and community engagement, enabling participants to become more effective leaders in their neighbourhood.

The program was funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s NSW Social Cohesion Grants for Local Government. Special thanks to Deputy Mayor Stephanie Di Pasqua, Deputy Mayor of the City of Canada Bay and mentors April McCabe, People & Culture Advisor at City of Canada Bay and Vivian Kosseifi, Nurturing Emerging Communities Officer, City of Canada Bay – Library & Community Services. Many thanks also to the rest of the team.

Our CEO, Justene Gordon and Out-of-Home Care Manager, Jacqui Gildaly both provided presentations as part of the program. Team Leader Stephen Dukich joined as a mentor.

“On Saturday I finished up as a mentor on the Future Leaders Canada Bay program. This was a great program to be a part of and I am really thankful for the opportunity to be a mentor representing the Burdekin Association. I’ve learnt so much from the presenters April McCabe, Vivian Kosseifi and the rest of the team.

This program pushed me to think outside the box as a mentor, allowed me the chance to guide and role model for a mentee and make great connections.

The sessions were packed with worthwhile information and there were great key speakers Sally Sitou , Justene Gordon and Jacqueline Gildaly. Definitely a worthwhile project to be a part of.”

Stephen Dukich, Team Leader, The Burdekin Association

For the last 18 months, Burdekin has partnered with Canada Bay Libraries to deliver the Youth Space Project. Canada Bay Council Facebook

The Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW (ECCNSW) is the peak body for all culturally and linguistically diverse communities in New South Wales. Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW Facebook

More about the program – Emerging Leaders Mentoring Program

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.