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Expanding opportunities for Avalon Youth Hub

Avalon Youth Hub staff and young people


Exciting news has emerged for young people and their families on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, as Northern Beaches Council has endorsed a significant development for Avalon Youth Hub!

The former Avalon Customer Contact Centre will now be offered to Avalon Youth Hub, enabling the expansion of its services and providing additional support to tackle the challenges faced by young people. This announcement couldn’t come at a better time with the increasing concern of mental health and wellbeing of young people.

The Avalon Youth Hub is a successful collaboration of support services, with The Burdekin Association as the lead agency. The service providers work together to make a difference to the mental health and wellbeing of young people, providing free one-on-one counselling, case management and mentoring, advice, referrals and general support to young people.

Left to right – Zed Tintor – Regional Manager, Justene Gordon – CEO, Nelly Martin – Community Engagement, Tanya Preston – Co-ordinator Youth Services at The Burdekin Association

“Last year, The Avalon Youth Hub provided 285 sessions of free counselling through KYDS, Mission Australia, headspace Brookvale, Sydney Drug and Education Counselling Centre (SDECC) and The Burdekin Association. And, 350 students across the Pittwater region were informed about support services available to them. Now, we can increase the number of services to affected young people. It will undoubtedly have a positive transformational impact on young people in our communities.”

Justene Gordon, CEO of The Burdekin Association, Lead Agency of the Avalon Youth Hub

A Hub for Support

With the acquisition of this new space, the Hub will be able to extend its reach and offer additional workshops and information sessions. This expansion is a testament to the commitment of the Avalon Youth Hub to address the diverse needs of young individuals and the broader community.

Avalon Youth Hub's new premises, the former Avalon Customer Contact Centre.
Avalon Youth Hub’s new premises – the former Avalon Customer Contact Centre.

Expanding Horizons

The decision to allocate the former Avalon Customer Contact Centre to the Avalon Youth Hub follows a thorough viability review. Through an Expressions of Interest process, Northern Beaches Council carefully evaluated several proposals and ultimately endorsed a community license agreement with The Burdekin Association acting as the lead agency of the Avalon Youth Hub.

Community Impact

The decision to endorse the expansion of the Hub is a testament to Northern Beaches Council’s commitment to the wellbeing of young people on the Northern Beaches. By investing in initiatives that address mental health and support systems, it has taken a proactive approach to tackle a pressing issue faced by the community. The availability of free counselling, case management, mentoring, advice, referrals, and general support services will serve as a safety net for young individuals who may be struggling with their mental health or experiencing difficulties in their lives.

To find out more about the Avalon Youth Hub, please visit their web site. Drop-in visitors are welcome Mondays 10am–5pm and Wednesdays 2-5pm. 59 Old Barrenjoey Road, Pittwater. You can also reach them on 0487 936 875.  

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.

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.

Yfoundations

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.

Gambling, gaming and young people

Teenager gaming

After two years of dedicated effort and success, we are excited to report that we have acquired funding for the extension of The Dee Why Project for an additional three years.

The Dee Why Project is generously funded by the Office of Responsible Gambling NSW and was established to develop a comprehensive gambling and gaming education awareness program, with case management, for the Dee Why community.

Over the past year, The Dee Why Project has successfully organised a Community Forum on Gaming and Gambling, which served as a platform for creating discussion and awareness-building around gaming and gambling.

To navigate children through responsible gaming and gambling, workshops were conducted in the Dee Why region to foster wellbeing and life skills among students. Open Services Days were also organised at secondary schools on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Internal training was provided to all Burdekin staff members, thanks to collaboration with GambleAware. This training significantly enhanced the confidence of staff in initiating conversations with young people regarding potential harm and occasional gambling habits.

Why focus on gaming and gambling?

Today’s generation of children and adolescents face a unique and concerning environment in relation to gambling. With smart phones and social media platforms at their fingertips, the line between gambling and entertainment has been blurred. Games are designed to be immersive, making it easy to lose track of time.

According to a Special Report by Dr. Michael Carr Greg, Child and Adolescent Psychologist, a “considerable number of teenagers are engaging in online gambling, facilitated by the industry’s normalisation of betting practices on the internet. A significant percentage of adolescents are involved in gambling activities and some experience adverse consequences, including diminished academic performance and strained relationships.”

It’s considered imperative by Dr. Michael Carr Greg that caregivers and parents have open discussions about media choices and encourage a balanced approach to screen time, promoting alternative activities for stress relief and boredom, and setting clear family rules for screen and internet use, including the establishment of spending limits for online gambling and in-game purchases. The aim is to empower children and young people to make informed and responsible decisions in the digital age.

What strategies can be used?

  • Start early – begin the conversation about gambling at an age-appropriate level. Young children can understand the concept at an early age.
  • Be a good role model – demonstrate responsible gambling behaviours and explain the importance of setting limits.
  • Educate yourself – understand the various forms of gambling the young person may be exposed to.
  • Be non-judgemental – create an open and safe environment where the young person feels comfortable to discuss their thoughts and experiences with gambling.
  • Discuss risks and consequences – talk about the potential risks and negative consequences of gambling, such as addiction and strained relationships.
  • Set boundaries – establish clear family rules about gambling, including age restrictions for engaging in different forms of gambling.
  • Teach online safety – educate the young person about the risks of online gambling, including the importance of not sharing personal information or engaging in illegal activities.
  • Monitor online activities – keep an eye on the young person’s online activities, including their gaming and gambling apps and raise any concerns.
  • Talk about advertising – discuss the influence of gambling advertising and its impact on decision making.
  • Seek help if needed – if you suspect a young person has a gambling problem, or is at risk, seek professional help from a counsellor or therapist.

Warning signs to look for

What are some of the warning signs that a young person is gaming, gambling or using technology too much? An expert – Brad Marshall, Director of the Screen and Gaming Disorder Clinic, has compiled some common red flags when it comes to teens and kids gaming and using technology.

What difference will the extension of The Dee Why Project have?

The extension of the Dee Why Project will allow The Burdekin Association to expand the reach of our work on gambling and gaming awareness to encompass the entire Northern Beaches region of Sydney. Alongside this, we’re excited to report that a Peer Education Program will be targeted at Year 11 students that will focus on gambling prevention, early intervention, and referral pathways for young people living on the Northern Beaches.

For more information on The Dee Why Project and the Parent Forum on Gaming and Gambling, click here.

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.