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The difference education makes…

Boy seeking help while learning on a computer. An Education Specialist with The Burdekin Association could help him.

“One in every five children in Australia are not completing their full 13 years of basic education,” stated the ABC News on Tuesday February 6, reporting on the Productivity Commission’s 2024 Report on Government Services.

“The dropout rate of students has reached a 10-year-high with just over half of all young Australians leaving school to participate in further education or enter full-time work,” the article continues.

The Productivity Commission’s Report outlines that in 2023 across all schools, “attendance rates decreased from 89.2 per cent in Year 7 to 84.5 per cent in Year 10. For Years 7–10, attendance rates are higher at non‑government schools (89.8 per cent) than government schools (84.0 per cent).”

Poor student attendance has been related to poor student outcomes, particularly once the patterns of non-attendance are established.

In addition to student retention, student engagement at school was measured and determined. There are significant measures of a student’s engagement as school –

  • behavioural engagement – school attendance, attainment and retention.
  • emotional engagement – students’ attitudes to learning and school.
  • cognitive engagement – students’ perception of intellectual challenge, effort or interest and motivation.

Students’ engagement at school is measured using data on emotional engagement – students’ sense of belonging at school. Higher or increasing scores on the index of sense of belonging at school is desirable.

Research suggests that students with a positive sense of belonging are more likely to stay in school longer, have less absenteeism and higher academic outcomes. Students who have a high sense of belonging in school generally put in more effort and are more motivated at school.

NSW Government’s ‘Support Students Sense of Belonging’

“Across the three literacy domains, the proportions of Australian 15-year-old students who achieved at or above the national proficient standard in 2022 were significantly lower than the proportions in 2018 for mathematics literacy, but similar to the proportions in 2018 for reading literacy and scientific literacy,” the 2024 Productivity Commission Report on Government Services stated.

An Education Specialist helping teenagers to learn.

The Burdekin Difference

Australian schooling aims for all young Australians to become successful lifelong learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed members of the community, positioning them to transition to further study or work and successful lives. It aims for students to improve academic achievement and excel by international standards.

Yet, 69 per cent of the children and young people who come to The Burdekin Association are unable to participate effectively in learning provided through the education department, due to their personal situations.

Many of the young people who come to The Burdekin Association did not attend sufficient schooling in their formative years. As a result, they have low literacy and low self esteem and need to cope with the challenges that caused their situation in the first place, such as family conflict or mental health issues.

When these children and young people attend school, the environment can become hostile or perceived to be hostile, they may become ostracized and/or bullied, partly because of their negative expectations and because they have fallen behind so much.

The Burdekin Association began addressing this gap in educational outcomes three years ago, by starting an Education Program and hiring teachers to work directly with our young people. Over the last three years, we have seen this program grow due to the demand and need.

Last year, The Burdekin Association was successful in securing very generous funding through the Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies Education Grant to boost our Education Program.

We now employ two Education Specialists – Sarah Haywood and Rae Usman, our Primary Educator – to support children and young people in our Out-of-Home Care program and disadvantaged (yet engaged) young people in our other programs.

Our Education Specialists provide:

  • Timetabled one-on-one teaching/assessment with children and young people (12-18) who previously were disengaged with school for extended periods of time.
  • Development of a Homework Plan. Development of an At Home Learning Plan.
  • Advocacy for the young person to get into their local high school.
  • Advocacy and support for the young person at TAFE.
  • Engagement, advocacy, and support for three Individual Education Plans for school based meetings.
  • Tutors (who are hired and matched with the young people) to assist them with their learning.

The Education Specialists advocate with schools, collaborate with young people and staff, and support children and young people in our care both across the Inner West and Northern Sydney regions.

To find out more, 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.

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.  

On the move!

We’re excited to report that The Burdekin Association has officially moved its Inner West team into our new premises in Marrickville!

The new spaces bring opportunities for children, young people and our team of staff to connect, create (especially in the industrial kitchen) and feel at home.

We can choose from four different rooms to: host visitors or clients, undertake training and inductions, hold smaller confidential meetings or have an informal chat. Multiple lounge areas are now also available for sharing lunch with team members, holding discussions, chilling out or cooking up a storm in the adjacent kitchen!

The furniture was generously facilitated by The Property Industry Foundation, an organisation that brings together the property and construction industry to positively impact youth homelessness.

The furniture was generously facilitated by The Property Industry Foundation, an organisation that brings together the property and construction industry to positively impact youth homelessness. 

Most of the furniture was kindly donated from Charter Hall, one of the members of the Property Industry Foundation. Charter Hall is one of Australia’s leading fully integrated property investment and funds management groups, and the largest CBD office manager in Australia. We are very grateful to them for managing the movement of some our office furniture! No easy task! 

“It’s brilliant when opportunities like this come together. Charter Hall is always incredibly generous and when the Burdekin Team came to us asking for support for their new office fit out, The 1 Shelley Street Charter Hall Team jumped at the opportunity to make a positive impact. They went above and beyond sharing over $20,000 worth of second-hand furniture which they had in storage. It was a beautiful example of a win-win scenario from both a sustainability and social good perspective. Thank you to all partners and individuals involved.”

Penny Kaleta, NSW State Manager, Property Industry Foundation

Among the furniture donated to our new office premises are a three-seater leather lounge suite, arm chairs, casual office chairs, three coffee tables, leather ottomans, cushions, a rug, dining table and chairs and bar chairs for the industrial kitchen. The donated furniture is estimated to be valued at over $20,000, and by being re-purposed, diverts much waste from being sent to landfill. We can’t begin to estimate how many tonnes of furniture was donated, but to give you an idea, there was a quantity large enough to be moved to one space ready for collection!

The remainder of the furniture – printers, IT equipment and office furniture – was relocated by Egans Removals and Relocations. Alongside our office relocation, they loaned us reusable packing crates, a great sustainable option to reduce our waste.

Our new office premises in Marrickville looks amazing with our fantastic re-purposed furniture and dedicated meeting spaces. The Burdekin Association is so proud and grateful to have such great partnerships with The Property Industry Foundation, Charter Hall and Evans Removals and Relocations to help make our new space so comfortable and home-like.

Justene Gordon, Chief Executive Officer of The Burdekin Association

Other furniture that was moved from our St Peters office to our new premises had previously been provided by Mates on the Move. At that time, Mates on the Move had disassembled our re-purposed conference desks and office chairs, moved them and then re-assembled them for us.

In case you didn’t know, Mates on the Move provides education, skills and employment training for people who have left prison, giving them a second chance to thrive at life. Mates on the Move is the social enterprise of the registered charity, Prisoners Aid Association of NSW.

Take a peek at Burdekin staff enjoying our new office premises and our wonderful re-purposed furniture below. Why not come and check it out for yourself? We’re at 99 Chapel Street, Marrickville.

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

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.