young people


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.

Creative Collaborations!

ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare Ambassadors Ava and Alice from The Burdekin Association.

The Burdekin Association is thrilled to announce that a former employee, Jay Williams, has established a new skincare company – ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare – and he has committed to donating 15 per cent of the company’s profits to The Burdekin Association for one year.

The Burdekin Association’s CEO, Justene Gordon was joined by young people – Alice and Ava – and Case Managers – Chris and Howie. They were filmed while talking with first-hand experience of how The Burdekin Association provides housing, support and community intervention services for children and young people – helping to solve issues of child and youth homelessness.

ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare products are proudly made in Sydney by reputable partners in the health and beauty field and feature antioxidants, including Kakadu plum extract, lilly pilly fruit extract, bilberry fruit extract, lavender oil, Resveratrol, and Tocopheryl Acetate (a form of Vitamin E).

The funds raised through the sale of ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare products will be used to provide case management services to children in our Out of Home Care. The funds will help them to learn independent living skills, complete their studies, live independently, and go on to gain employment.

We hope through ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare’s advertising campaign, that more people will discover what we do, volunteer with us, become a foster carer of a young person, and donate. 

Justene Gordon, CEO of The Burdekin Association

ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare’s endeavours will help The Burdekin Association by raising our profile, making people aware of how we’re aiming to ensure that every child or young person has a safe home. 

“The main purpose of the ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare brand is about fundraising and supporting organisations who are helping our young disadvantaged kids. That’s what really makes us, us.”

Jay Williams, Founder of ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare

You can visit the ACTIVEAUSSIE Skincare website to place an order and support a great cause (The Burdekin Association!) 💙💛

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.

What a difference volunteers make!

Qualtrics volunteers assist to transform a property for a young person.

A huge thank you to the amazing team of volunteers at Qualtrics for helping us transform a single storey, two-bedroom property for a 19-year-old single mother with two children under the age of two.

Six employees from Qualtrics, which helps organisations improve their customer and employee experience, put up their hands to transform the property as part of their annual volunteering inititiative, XM Day.

Armed with gardening tools and a positive attitude, they participated in a volunteering day, where they assisted in:

  • Painting the living room
  • Moving a new couch into the newly painted living room
  • Pruning and tidying up the garden
  • Patching up a couple of dents in the walls
  • Revamping the kitchen
  • Tidying up the garage and car port
  • Taking rubbish to Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre
  • Scrubbing the bathroom to remove mould
  • Removing plastic bottles and recycling them

The generous team also donated two car seats for the children, children’s clothes, toys, new towels, new cushions and a rug, and stationery to help the young mother with their TAFE studies.

Doctor Cecila Herbert from Qualtrics also went the extra mile and donated plants from her own garden and planted them in the property’s garden.

Thank you Qualtrics, your team of volunteers have truly made a difference in this young mother’s life and we couldn’t be more grateful! This is why we do what we do!

And finally, a big shout out of thanks to Bunnings Warringah Mall for donating paint, that provided the living room with a new lease on life.

If your organisation or business would like to volunteer with The Burdekin Association, check out our volunteering opportunities here. We’d love to hear from you.

Meet Rae, our Education Specialist…

Education Specialist, Rae Usman, at The Burdekin Association's Learning Space

Rae Usman is a one-of-a kind. A qualified teacher, she also has extensive experience in the recruitment industry, where she provided careers guidance and resumé building opportunities. The combination of these skills has meant that she is able to comprehensively support the young people who come to her at The Burdekin Association’s Learning Space at Addi Road Community Organisation in Marrickville.

69 per cent of the children and young people who come to The Burdekin Association are unable to attend or participate effectively in learning provided through the Department of Education, due to their unique personal situations.

Rae Usman’s knowledge of positive psychology – derived from working with students at a hospital – has informed her teaching practice at The Burdekin Association’s Learning Space.

Her approach is based on the idea that the wellbeing of the young people comes first. It means that she meets each child where they are on the learning continuum and does her best to foster a positive learning environment.

“Research indicates and my experience has revealed, that if we don’t look after the child’s wellbeing first, then it makes it very difficult for learning to occur.”

Rae Usman, Education Specialist at The Burdekin Association

Social – emotional learning (SEL) needs are high on the agenda for young people attending the Learning Space. They often find it hard to self regulate, have poor self perceptions of themselves, which feeds into incorrect assumptions about themselves. They may say things, like “I’m dumb, I can’t do it”. Rae tries to flip the script for them by teaching them a positive sense of self, promoting healthy relationships, and building capacity to manage behaviours, emotions and interactions with others.

The Learning Space at The Burdekin Association, Addi Road Community Organisation, Marrickville.

The Learning Space at Addi Road Community Organisation in Marrickville.

Advocating for the young people is part of Rae’s role. Her main goal is to transition the young people back to their home school by building their confidence to return or supporting them into an alternative school or educational pathway.

Unfortunately, young people with unmet literacy needs are likely to have low educational attainment, earn less income and are more likely to be unemployed.

Trauma informed training helps…

“Sometimes the young people have learning difficulties that have been undiagnosed, or they struggle to learn. The impact of trauma can lead to a range of behaviours and complexities which present in learning environments.”

Rae Usman, Education Specialist at The Burdekin Association

Rae has completed trauma informed training with The Burdekin Association, which she has found to be valuable in assisting her to recognise the needs in the young people in our care.

Rae Usman, Education Specialist at The Burdekin Association

Rae Usman, outside the Learning Space at Addi Road Community Organisation

She knows to look outside of the behaviour that would typically attract a comment of ‘what is wrong with them?’, but rather Rae looks beyond the behaviours and through trauma lens and attempts to determine what she can do to better support the young person to learn.

Rae tries to develop strategies for each of the young people she sees by using a resilience meter and/or an emotional wheel for when they attend that day. She asks them to mark or point to how they are feeling, so she can then gauge where is the best place to start the lesson on that day.

“They might tell me that they are feeling stressed or they may display some characteristics of hypervigilance, so we’ll do some calming activities before we get into the learning. If they’re feeling sad or in a low mood, we may need to play music or a game together. The game may incorporate numeracy or literacy and I can witness their literacy and numeracy skills in action. Most kids like a game. It doesn’t matter their age.”

Rae Usman, Education Specialist at The Burdekin Association

Age range of attending students…

Rae typically sees young people aged between 12 and 18 years of age for one hour to three hours at a time. Predominantly it’s the Year 9, 14-15 years age bracket that she sees most.

“Of all the year groups at high school, Year 9 is the pointy end. The young people have a lot happening at this age, they are going through physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes which can have implications with how they engage at school,” Rae said.

“Evidence has shown that Year 9 is the time when young people typically tend to disengage from school, they may no longer see school as important or feel like they don’t have the academic skills to continue. So, I thought if The Burdekin Association implements some preventative measures, particularly with some of our younger children we may catch them before this becomes an issue. As a result, we will have after school hours tutors who will be able to provide extra literacy and numeracy support and build on these vital foundation skills our young people often miss out on.”

Rae Usman, Education Specialist at The Burdekin Association

Last year, Rae supported a young person with ADHD and dyslexia undertake their Year 11 studies. A learning support team came out from Sydney Distance Education, and they discussed with Rae how as a team they could all support this student. The young person came three times a week, Rae acted as scribe for them and they participated in online Zoom meetings, completed assessments and tests and overall had a positive outcome which would not have otherwise happened.

Young people’s life and social skills are an important consideration for Rae. The students participate in activities such as cooking, going to the local food co-op to purchase food, have discussions about sustainability and visit the local community garden, along with assisting with caring for the therapy pet, Toothless.

“I think it’s important that the young people don’t see the world as big and scary, but it’s somewhere that they can navigate. I know that our wonderful Burdekin Team do the same thing. It’s great that I can reinforce the great work all of our staff do with our young people.”

Rae Usman, Education Specialist at The Burdekin Association

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.