Meet Barnardos Foster Carer Kulander

“My name is Kulander and I’ve been fostering with Barnardos for over 10 years.

Back then I was living on my own here in Grays Point, a beautiful area on the fringe of the National Park. I was sick to death of going to clubs and pubs and doing all of that sort of thing. I guess I wanted to contribute to something beyond my own wellbeing, so I thought I’d try out doing respite foster care where you care for a child one weekend a month.

I knew Barnardos supports children, so I contacted them. The introduction to Barnardos was quite good, I came along to an information session and then started doing some of the training. When I was nearing the end of my training, one of the caseworkers came over to me and said, “Oh, we’ve got this urgent situation. Would you be able to take a child this weekend?”

So I said yes. I initially went over to where he was placed, just to meet him briefly, and then they brought him over to spend the weekend here. So that’s how I started providing respite care for Andrew when he was 7 years old.

He would spend the summer holidays here and I think it was about six months later they approached me again and said Andrew needed a permanent placement and if I’d be interested in having him. I did think hard about it then I thought, “Well, yes, OK, I’ll try it”. Then came the exhaustive assessment period that you have to go through. At the end of it, I was successful, and he moved in back in April 2012. Ten years on he’s just turned 18.
As a single gay man, I’ve always felt accepted by Barnardos. I remember telling one of the workers who completed my assessment. “Oh last night I had a really weird dream where I was coming down the hallway to meet you, and I was in the dress with sequins all over it!” So we had a bit of a chuckle. I’ve always found all the workers at Barnardos to be very accepting.

My caseworker David has been truly fantastic. He’s always been there to pick up the phone and just listen to whatever goes on. I now have Andrew’s younger brother living with me and he’s been very supportive of whatever suggestions I put forward for the placement and whatever our needs are. The level of support from Barnardos has been wonderful.
For me, because Andrew was already school aged, I was able to maintain full-time employment which was very important to me. I took some extended holiday leave while he settled in and then negotiated to work from home occasionally. We also utilise after-school care and vacation care so being a permanent foster carer doesn’t have a huge impact on my employment. Barnardos also provides a carer allowance to cover the cost of caring for the child.

For any people that are interested, especially gay people, all I can say is that it will change your life. And it’ll be a pleasant change. Having Andrew in my care has connected me to the local community in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise because the kids go to school, they do soccer, they do all of the after-school activities. You end up sitting on the side of the soccer field each Saturday morning, you meet all the neighbours, you meet all of the other people in the area. And it’s such a lovely warm sort of feeling that you get as a result of that. That’s probably one of the biggest benefits I can see. I think it also keeps you current and contemporary with a lot of the youth issues and you get to learn all the new teenage language!

In terms of maintaining contact with friends as a permanent carer, I’m given respite care once a month, so I’m still able to maintain my links with my other friends in the city. I really am grateful to Barnardos because it’s an opportunity that I’ve had that I wouldn’t have been able to get in any other way.”

Local youth worker Zanette Clements is keen to help kids reach for the stars

Zanette Clements, Reconnect Team Leader for Cobar, Nyngan and Warren, was featured in The Cobar Weekly on her ‘reach for the stars’ attitude and encouragement towards local young people to believe they can do amazing things.

Zanette’s quotes include:

“The Reconnect program is an early intervention program for young people aged 12 to 18 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.”

“We recognise that there are many factors that can contribute to young people being at risk, and we work with the young person to provide appropriate support and strategies to improve circumstances and outcomes for them and their families.”

“I wanted to encourage children and young people, especially in my hometown of Cobar, to reach for the stars and to always believe that they can do amazing things, anything is possible and that yes, sometimes it is hard growing up and working out what you want for yourself, but if you have community and people that believe in you, you can truly achieve your goals, whatever that may be.”

“A young person will eventually open up and more than likely, there is more to their story.”

Read the full article here

This article first appeared in The Cobar Weekly.

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Jill’s story – paying it forward to help more children

“We never give up” is at the heart of everything we do at Barnardos.

We never give up on supporting vulnerable children, young people and families. We walk beside them on their journey for as long as it takes. We recognise the challenges they face and we use our shared wisdom and experience to care for, protect and empower them to reach their full potential.

There’s one powerful way to ensure that we continue to have the resources so we never have to give up – that’s to include a gift to Barnardos in your Will. This week is “Include A Charity Week”, a social change campaign raising awareness of the massive difference made by everyday people including a charitable gift in their Will. Big-hearted people like Jill.

Jill’s life was changed by Barnardos over 70 years ago. Now, she’s about to change more children’s lives to give them a brighter future.


Older lady smiling at camera

Jill doesn’t know where she’d be today without her adoptive mother Margaret’s big heart.  Margaret, a single woman in her 40s, adopted Jill when she was just 3 weeks old. A well-loved and respected member of her local community, Margaret had volunteered during the war with Dr Barnardos Services in London.

Jill always felt valued and loved by her mother.  “There was no way that anything could ever harm me with mum around”, she says.

Tragically, when Jill was eleven years old, Margaret died from bowel cancer.  Jill remains deeply grateful for her short time with her mother.  Margaret never gave up on Jill despite the hardships she faced as a single parent in the 1950s and fighting a terminal illness.  And Jill will never give up on bringing hope to a new generation.

That’s why she is leaving a gift to Barnardos in her Will.  Her big heart will keep her mother’s legacy alive by giving the opportunity for another child “to be loved and accepted as part of a family”, just like she was.

Jill has made her Will about her life and the values she holds dear. Your Will can do the same by not only offering a wonderful opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of your loved ones, but by having a long-term impact on the world they live in. By leaving a gift to Barnardos, you will be instrumental in changing the lives of children and young people that need it the most. For more information, click here.


Your guide to leaving a Gift in Will

Many people find it difficult to talk with their family about their Will, particularly if it includes a charitable gift. Knowing how or when to raise it with them can also be challenging, but it’s a really important conversation to have.

That’s why we would like to provide you with a free information booklet from Include A Charity to guide you through the process of speaking to your nearest and dearest about your legacy, in the right way, at the right time.


It’s time to make your mark on the world while keeping your family informed and involved. Your Will should be your will – what you want to happen. Why not discuss it with your family, so when the time comes, your wishes will be followed in the way you intended?

To find out more, click here or contact our Bequests Manager, Kingsley Edwards, by phone on (02) 9218 2311 or by email at

Tegan’s life has changed since she was was first referred to our Linker domestic violence service

We first met Tegan in 2018 when she escaped a violent relationship while she was still pregnant with her youngest child, Hudson. She was the victim of brutal violence and was forced to give birth in a different town to avoid being found by her former partner. Tegan was referred to our Linker domestic violence service who worked with her to ensure she and her children were supported on their journey to safety . Learn more about Tegan’s story with the Linker service here.

Five years on, we caught up with Tegan to see how her life has changed. Tegan said, “No one should ever have to go through what I went through, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.” She says having gratitude for where she is today helps her to heal from the past. “I was tested in a way that was almost inhumane. It helped me to learn how strong I am.”

Tegan’s ultimate goal is to use her experience for good, to help other children and families overcome violence and rebuild their lives. In addition to being a Mum to Hudson and her other four children (from a previous relationship), she is completing two degrees – a Bachelor of Social Science with a major in Psychology and a Bachelor of Education in Primary Education. Tegan is contemplating juggling work and post-grad studies when she completes her bachelors next year. When reflecting on her passion for learning Tegan says, “all that work that I do, no one can take that away from me. It gives me a different perspective on what I’ve been through and has helped me heal.”

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about some of the things that happened but then I look back and can see how far I’ve come.”

Tegan would like to see the legal system change to better support domestic violence victims. She speaks about the trauma of being questioned all day long by the perpetrator’s lawyer. “It’s mentally exhausting the way they wear you down. I feel really passionate about the court system needing to change. The victim gets treated as a criminal.”

“I wish there was more support for the children when dealing with domestic violence. People say, ‘they’re young, they’ll get through it,’ but it still sits with them. There’s still stuff that the kids bring up. My 9 year old recalled the other day about how he would hide in his bed. My 17 year old also sometimes talks about the impact the violence had on him.”

“Hudson experienced the violence in the womb. He has a lot of trouble regulating his emotions and has an underdeveloped central nervous system. There are studies that show a link between this condition and stress caused in the womb. It’s something I want to learn more about.”

Hudson has been getting support from medical specialists to help him bridge the gaps so he’s ready to start school next year.

Tegan’s study in primary education and psychology has lead her to explore how classroom environments are impacting children who are experiencing trauma from domestic violence. It is an area that requires further research but studies show that a teacher’s approach can have a significant impact on children facing trauma. Tegan acknowledged that for many children, school is the place that they go to feel safe when there are problems at home.
While Tegan deserves all the credit for her achievements, she says she has never felt more supported than what she does right now by her family and friends.

Despite everything that Tegan has gone through she feels that it has made her family closer. She believes without Barnardos’ support to leave the relationship she wouldn’t be here to tell the story. “If I hadn’t left that night he would have killed me. I can’t over-think that side of things because it’s quite a dark place.”

“It was hard to leave because you are leaving all those securities. You feel like you don’t know where you are going or what you are doing. It’s like someone has ripped all the other pages out of your book. You have to start by sitting with some really difficult feelings but the good news is that you get to choose what’s next as you heal.”

For those in the same situation Tegan says it’s important to start doing small things for yourself. “Start studying or going to the gym. Go as slow as you want but just start chipping away at it. You just have to keep moving forward.”

When asked about how she feels about life now Tegan says, “I love who I am today – wow, that was big to say – but I do, I like the person that I am. I’m looking after my kids, I’m here, I’m present, I’m very capable of doing this on my own, which I never thought I would be. Let alone studying and all the other things I’m doing. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 5 years brings for us.”

“My kids are my world. I’ve done this for me but I also do it for them and I want to show them that they are capable of doing all this too.”

You can read more about Tegan’s experience here.

New Mt Druitt Project video featuring our Penrith Youth Support Team

Department of Communities and Justice have just released this video highlighting the successful Universal Screening and Supports (USS) Pilot at Mount Druitt and featuring Barnardos vital work with local young people and their families.

The Mount Druitt Project does a survey with 4 local high schools at the beginning of the year and screens in children at risk of homelessness, at risk of mental health issues and at risk of school disengagement.

Barnardos workers then meet with these families and hear from these children and talk to the schools to identify how we can support them. The project also applies a cultural lens to help break down barriers and get young people back into education.

The video features our fabulous workers from Barnardos Penrith Youth Support team, Amy Hawkes (Program Manager), Tano D’urso (Youth and Family Caseworker) and Hayley Murti (Senior Youth worker).

Three Wise Women mobile cafe giving mums a second chance

For most people in western New South Wales, the Three Wise Women mobile cafe is a place to grab a coffee, but for some women it’s a second chance.

The social enterprise, run by Barnardos Australia, aims to keep mothers who have been in contact with the criminal justice system at home with their families.

The organisation’s Beyond Barbed Wires program provides mothers coming out of jail with training, education and employment opportunities, including work in the coffee van.

“Getting out of jail is really hard. And putting yourself out there, looking for employment can be even harder,” Program Manager Shiree Talbot said.

“There can be problems with not having worked before, not being sure of yourself and not having the self confidence to put yourself out there in community and get employment.”

The coffee van, based in Wellington in central western New South Wales, services community events throughout the region.

Ms Talbot said building the women’s confidence was a key part of the program.

“We go out into the coffee cart with our mums, and support them to build confidence around things like money handling, confidence around customer service, and all of those skills.

“I think if you have a mentor, or someone that you know, in the community that is actually there with you, investing time… it is just such a great gain for our women.”

The flexibility of the hospitality industry allows the women to work around their home lives.

“They have children, ranging from babies all the way up, so [they have] that flexibility to be able to work in an industry where they can be in control of the hours that they’re working,” said Ms Talbot.

Benefits of social enterprises
It’s not just the hospitality industry that is benefiting from social enterprises like the Three Wise Women Mobile Cafe.

Prisoners Aid NSW runs a program that provides men coming out of jail with employment in waste management.

Prisoners Aid manager Craig Baird said the “Mates on the Move” social enterprise was more than just a job for those involved.

“[It] gives them a bit of a work history, should they want to move on to bigger and better things… but also provides them with a fair bit of motivation and feeling part of the community.

“[They’re] contributing to the community in earning wages and paying taxes and having the choices that you get when you have employment.”

Mr Baird said many people leaving the criminal justice system felt isolated and community engagement was key to reconnecting with their local communities.

“If they’re feeling part of the community, and have the positive feelings being engaged with the community brings… they’re less likely to fall back into the cycle of crime.”

Participants leading the way
Mr Baird welcomed further social enterprise initiatives like the Three Wise Women coffee van.

“Everybody’s an individual, and they’re looking for different types of work and different types of education opportunities.

“It’s just a matter of having as many different kinds of opportunities to meet people’s needs.”

Ms Talbot said listening to what those involved wanted was the most important part of the program.

“If we are serious about supporting vulnerable groups of people, and they can be no more vulnerable than women coming out of custody… we have to be led by what the women are telling us.”

She said the training and confidence the cafe provided was invaluable, regardless of which industry the women ultimately moved into.

“They may not want to go on to be baristas — that is no problem at all.

“I’m excited for the women. I love to see them grow and for these women to reach their full potential.”

This article first appeared on the ABC news

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Kyly Clarke raises $10,000 for Barnardos on Australian Ninja Warrior

A massive thank you to Kyly Clarke in raising $10,000 for Barnardos during her win on Australian Ninja Warrior celebrity challenge against Love Island’s Tayla Damir. With this donation, she ‘hoped to help children that are in an unsafe environment’.

Kyly had trained for months in the lead-up to appearing on the show. She states “My chosen charity is Barnardos Australia and I’m looking forward to giving it everything I’ve got to help raise funds for this wonderful organisation supporting children in needs.”

This article first appeared in the Daily Mail here.

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New partnership launched to support Muslim children in care

Image: Ahmad Malas – Program Director, My Foster Family, Ismail Davids – CEO of National Zakat Foundation, Hayfa Bakour – Project Officer, My Foster Family, Asif Mulla – Director of National Zakat Foundation, Dalal Johnson, Barnardos Foster Carer, Amy Weeks, Deirdre Cheers, Helen Fenwick, Ruth Drennan, Shaun Naidoo, Georgia-Lee Henricks, Bill Greenfield, Mary Haiek. Front row: Madona Labib

Barnardos Australia and My Foster Family have joined forces to improve the experience of Muslim children in foster care.

At the official launch held yesterday at the Barnardos Auburn Children’s Family Centre, representatives from Barnardos and My Foster Family came together to announce the partnership and what it will mean for Muslim children in the foster care system.

Barnardos Australia CEO Deirdre Cheers said “We are thrilled to partner with My Foster Family as part of our commitment to keeping children connected to their family, culture & community. We understand the need for Muslim children to be cared for a way which respects their faith. The community connections and cultural training that My Foster Family provides will be invaluable to both our Muslim and non-Muslim carers. We look forward to building a strong relationship and connection to the community through this partnership which will help us achieve positive outcomes for our children, young people and families.”

My Foster Family (MFF) was created to support Muslim children in finding exceptional foster carers who can provide stability, support and love to a child. MFF advocate for the needs of Muslim children in the system and provide cultural humility training for carers to learn how to better cater for Muslim foster children.

“We are really excited about working with Barnardos and the benefits this partnership will bring to the Muslim community. This collaboration will form an integral part of delivering a high-quality service that meets a strong community need. The synergies between both organisations will bring together industry leaders, best practice, and a deep cultural understanding that will have a positive impact in the multicultural foster care space.” Ahmad Malas, Director, My Foster Family said.

Barnardos vision is to empower every child in Australia to reach their full potential and believe a positive identity and sense of belonging is essential for vulnerable children to recover and thrive.

Both Barnardos and My Foster Family recognise the need for children to be able to practice and understand their faith. It is hoped that this partnership will encourage more foster carers to come forward from within the Muslim community as well as providing non-Muslim carers with support in meeting the needs of Muslim children who are under their care.

Barnardos latest campaign

Barnardos latest campaign shows victims of child abuse hiding in plain sight

Tax time is unarguably the most competitive time of year for charities vying for donor attention. Hence Barnardos Australia engaged We Are Otter to doing something completely different to stand out from the crowd.

When it came to Barnardos work, what stood out to the We Are Otter creative team was children suffering sexual abuse do whatever they can to avoid attracting attention. In other words, they try to make themselves invisible.

The team built a campaign reflecting this by capturing children in various everyday scenes where the viewer has to find them. To tell this story and draw the audience in, the campaign focuses on three scenes all shot within the same house. It is a normal looking home, showing that child abuse can happen in familiar surroundings. Clever set design tells a story of family history in each scene, with colour building mood and tone.

The 30 second ad opens on a typical kitchen at breakfast time, then moves to a child’s bedroom in the mid-afternoon and then to a loungeroom in the late evening. Each of these rooms appear empty, but as the camera tracks, we see a child hiding in plain sight. The child is stock still with a face devoid of expression. The audience is compelled to empathise with the child trapped in this world of abuse, driving them to take immediate action. The voiceover explains:

Sometimes it’s those we can’t see who need our help the most

At home, children suffering from sexual abuse will do anything to avoid attention

Barnardos fights for children to be seen and protected

So they never have to hide again

The campaign shows the viewer that Barnardos is working hard to help children feel safe and seen, so they don’t need to hide from abuse.

Says Simon Jarosz and Jen Peace, We Are Otter: “For too long those the subject of sexual abuse has been in ‘the dark’, we were keen to literally show how Barnardos helps people step out from the shadows. This campaign is not a typical campaign designed to drive pity from hopelessness, rather, it’s about showing how Barnardos empowers and equips those affected to move forward toward a more optimistic future.”

We Are Otter also worked with Barnardos to help define and articulate their unique selling proposition (USP) as Fearlessly Optimistic in changing children’s lives to ensure they reach their brightest future.

This is the first campaign delivered under this new USP and the first time Barnardos have used a full production unit to create content for a fundraising appeal. It was only made possible thanks to We Are Otter and their production partners going the extra mile, investing time and effort over and above for such an important cause they truly believe in.

The campaign is being pushed out across YouTube, online display banners, paid social (Facebook & Instagram) and paid search.

This article first appeared in Campaign Brief here

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National Families Week 2022 – Opinion Piece by Barnardos Australia CEO Deirdre Cheers

Today marks the start of National Families Week (15-21 May) and the final week of the Federal Election campaign. It’s a time when politicians appeal to ‘working families’ about their vision for the future. Families are vital for children to be able to grow up safely and thrive. No doubt many families will welcome some short-term financial relief on offer as cost of living pressures rise. What we need even more than that is a long-term plan to ensure success of the next generation.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of National Families Week’s, which is a good time to reflect on the great work that has been done over those years by both government, community and non-government organisations to keep children safe. However, we also need to recognise how much more work there is still to do to reduce child abuse and neglect and its intergenerational impacts.

All children and young people in Australia have the right to grow up safe, connected and supported in their family, community and culture. They have the right to grow up in an environment that enables them to reach their full potential. It’s our responsibility to ensure this is front and centre in social policy.

When families in our communities experience domestic and family violence, poverty, alcohol and other drug use, mental health issues or homelessness, it is too often the children who suffer most. And they suffer silently. In these circumstances, early support is critical to strengthen families and help children to thrive. This includes helping children, young people and families to access material basics, health services and education, which is their fundamental right.

The Australian Government is currently developing the next stages of both the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Within these frameworks, the focus must always be on the best interests of the child which is only achieved by really listening to the voices of children and young people. While this important policy work takes place, we need leaders to who will take these frameworks seriously. This is more than just a policy wish list. It’s an investment in our collective future.

Support services for vulnerable children and their families need to be developed at a local level, with programs that are evidence-based, trauma-informed, culturally safe and inclusive. Children, young people, families and communities having a direct role in policy making and implementation is essential.

And in order to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care, it is vital that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations have increased say in decision-making, combined with priority allocation of resources to keep children on land, in culture, and within community. Building capacity in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce in the child and family sector is also vital to support increased focus on cultural safety and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led services.

In order to overcome service gaps in our community, a collective and coordinated approach between services involving information sharing, monitoring and evaluation to achieve improved outcomes for children, young people and families is essential. As the cost of living rises, the domestic violence crisis continues and services are stretched, and children and young people are falling through the cracks. Closing these gaps and providing a greater investment in services will mean more children can safely remain at home with their families and local communities. It will mean they can do more than just survive, they will thrive.

On the eve of this election, Barnardos call for political parties and candidates to make the commitment to enact these plans and frameworks in real partnership with state and territory jurisdictions. Without strong families and strong communities, our children and young people cannot thrive.