Burnside centenary highlights children still need support

Burnside centenary highlights children still need support

The Uniting Church Synod of New South Wales and the ACT was invited to help celebrate UnitingCare Burnside’s 100-year commitment to serving vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and their families by reflecting on the past and joining Burnside as it works for social change.

“Like a giant mirror, the story of Burnside reflects a century of changing attitudes towards children, young people and families,” Claerwen Little told the Synod meeting in Newcastle on September 26.

“The modern Burnside is built on our unshakeable belief that people are experts in their own lives and with support can achieve their own dreams,” Ms Little, Acting Director of UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families, said.

The Synod passed a resolution which thanked God for Burnside in its centenary year 2011 and briefly outlined aspects of the organisation’s remarkable history.

Synod members were asked to remember founders, benefactors and staff of respective homes and subsequent programs of UnitingCare Burnside including the establishment of the Burnside Homes in 1911 by the Presbyterian Church and the initial gift of 500 pounds and 45 acres of land by Sir James Burns, which provided the means to establish the Burnside Children’s Homes, and, by the time of his death in 1923, his final bequests including his family home, Gowan Brae, 240 acres of land and an estimated $200,000.

Synod participants were also asked to thank God for the care given to more than 10,000 children and young people who resided at Burnside Homes at North Parramatta from 1911 to 1997.

The resolution acknowledged that many children placed in Burnside’s care until 1990 did not receive the consistent and loving care that they needed and deserved.

Ms Little said one in six children (around 800,000) children now lived in households that:

  • Did not receive medical treatment when needed;
  • Can’t support their children to participate in school activities or outings or have a hobby;
  • Did not have any members of the household employed; and
  • Don’t have access to $500 in emergency savings.

She outlined other facts to show how important it was for UnitingCare to continue its work to bring change and address the impact of social exclusion on children.

She said:

  • Children and young people made up almost half of the 105,000 people experiencing homelessness each night nationally;
  • Over the last five years, the number of children nationally on care and protection orders increased by 47 per cent to more than 35,000; and
  • In 2008-09, the rate of Indigenous children on care and protection orders was more than eight times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

Ms Little asked Synod members to support Burnside’s future in four main ways:

  • Go online to the becausechildrenmatter website and sign up to be part of UnitingCare’s advocacy work.
  • Donate to Burnside and use the “Investing in the Future” fundraising pack sent to congregations.
  • Become a foster carer.
  • Attend the Synod thanksgiving service for the Centenary of Burnside on Sunday October 16 at the Centre for Ministry at North Parramatta.

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