Who we are and the work we do in the community
Our objectives at Burrun Dalai are:
• To keep Aboriginal children and young people safe
• To protect children and young people from abuse and exploitation by offering a place of safety in times when it is needed
• To provide out of home care as a last resort and only when such care is in the best interest of the child or young person
• To support the foster family to provide the best possible care to best meet the unique needs of the child or young person
• To meet the child or young person's physical, social, emotional, educational, and cultural needs whilst within a Burrun Dalai program
• To assist in keeping children and young people in their families and communities
• To limit foster care to the shortest time where possible so as not to jeopardise family relationships
Burrun Dalai is accredited under the Out of Home Care Standards.
The team at Burrun Dalai have the same vision, we believe Aboriginal children and young people, should stay in their community with their family, where safe, and when they can't live with family, should be able to live with caring and nurturing Aboriginal families that have the links and connections to their community thereby enabling these kids the ability to maintain their identity and connections.
94% of our staff (100% of front line) are of Aboriginal descent and come to us from the Dunghutti, Gumbangiir, Budgjalung, Biripi, Worrimi, and Kabi Kabi nations.
Staff have had years of experience working in areas of:
Early Childhood Education
Adult and Child Sexual Assault
Burrun Dalai’s board members are nominated, elected members of the Dunghutti and Gumbayngiir Aboriginal communities. Many of our board members have previous experience as foster carers themselves. It is important that our organisation is guided by community members who can identify the unique issues that relate to their communities.
As a Government not for profit organisation, Burrun Dalai provide all types of foster carer from short, medium, long term, respite and crisis care as well as some voluntary care. We are funded to provide foster/out of home care placements for 50 Aboriginal children & young people from the Nambucca, Macleay, Manning, Armidale & Tamworth regions.
We provide ongoing training and support for our foster careers and families as well as continuing to recruit, train and authorise new eligible Aboriginal foster carer and families.
Chief Executive Officer
Mykol is a very proud humble man who identifies as a Aboriginal Biripi/Worimi, South Sea Islander man.
Mykol has a background in children’s services where he worked for approximately 9 years. The highlight of working in Child care for Mykol was working at Girrawong Preschool based at Purfleet, he then moved into the Out Of Home Care sector at Great Lakes/ Manning Aboriginal Children’s Service (GLMACS). Mykol left GLMACS and started his professional journey with Burrun Dalai in the Family Referral Service as the Team Leader based in the Taree office for approximately two years before he transitioned to the Assessment Officer role for Burrun Dalai across all four offices at the time: Kempsey, Taree, Armidale and Tamworth.
In 2016 Mykol moved to Tamworth to be the Executive Officer for Tamworth and Armidale Aboriginal Children Service (TAACS) and he is still in this position.
Mykol’s professional vision is to be the connection between children, families and organisations within the OOHC sector to help develop and maintain respectful and meaningful relationships with the children and families and wider community. He hopes to encourage empowerment of our children, families and community to have and want better outcomes for themselves and each other.
Mykol’s hope is that he can make a positive difference to the children, families, community and workers he is involved with.
Amanda comes with over 26 years’ experience of working in the Welfare Area. She has worked directly in OOHC for approximately 20 years. Amanda commenced as a youth worker in 1989 for 5 years for the Manning Youth Refuge and went on to become the Manager of Great Lakes/Manning Aboriginal Children’s Service (now known as Biripi Aboriginal Children’s Service) in August 1995. Amanda managed the service for 18 years and was successful in obtaining accreditation under the OCG. She also developed a submission, was successful in the establishment of the State-wide Aboriginal Aftercare Service “Marungbai.” Amanda also expanded the service out of home care to Inverell through the Transition Growth Tender with Community Services in 2012.
In November 2013 Amanda commenced work as a Caseworker in the Mid North Coast Child & Family Referral Unit with Port Macquarie CSC. Amanda commenced her role with Burrun Dalai in May 2014 and was pivotal in the establishment of the Taree Service under the direction of the CEO Dana Clarke. Amanda’s huge knowledge of the sector and strategic thinking brings a depth to Burrun Dalai’s skill base and she is a very valuable asset to the service.
Foster Care Manager
Robert Silva is Dunghutti man who also has connections to the Kamilaroi and Eora peoples. He grew up in Redfern, where he attended primary and high school in the 70 & 80’s, also going on to undertake dance with the ADT Redfern, as well as NAISDA. During this time in Redfern there were a lot of significant Aboriginal political activists, which Robert describes as “a great time in my life.” Robert learnt a lot from these people and has based his beliefs on respecting Aboriginal connections, culture, and the importance of identity for Aboriginal people.
Robert has a great respect for the Stolen Generation members. This connection to past government practises and the impact of those on our Aboriginal children has enabled Robert to strongly advocate for “placing kids in community” and nurturing a “community connectedness and sense of identity.”
Robert says “I have had many great Aboriginal people who inspired me in my life and this has helped me both personally and professionally. I enjoy working with and for my community.” Robert brings a unique approach to his work, inspired by personal learnings and experiences; he relates and communicates well with Aboriginal people from all levels of the community. He is a peacemaker, but is also not afraid to make a stand for the safety of our Aboriginal children. Robert has been a part of the Burrun Dalai Team since 2009.
Norma Kelly is a Dunghutti woman from the Kempsey community. Norma spent many years working for her community in the health sector through the local Aboriginal medical service. During her employment she has been involved in holistic support of Aboriginal children and families.
Norma joined Burrun Dalai in May 2011 originally as the Casework Manager. With the growth of the organisation, and the recognition of Norma’s skills, she moved into the role of Executive Officer, and is responsible for the management of the out of home care team in Kempsey.
Norma brings a unique community connectedness to Burrun Dalai and is known for her level of empathy and compassion; she manages very difficult circumstances in a delicate and gentle fashion. Burrun Dalai is very fortunate to have her expertise.
Dana is a Worimi woman and has worked in Aboriginal Health, Child Protection, Sexual Assault, and Mental Health for over 25 years.
Dana was a part of the establishment of Burrun Dalai in 1998, and as the chairperson and worked with Community Services to establish the organisation which became incorporated in 2002.
In 2005 Dana returned to Burrun Dalai OOHC & FSS as the Coordinator, and has seen the organisation grow from 3 staff to over 85, across 3 offices, covering the Nambucca, Macleay, Hastings and Manning Valleys as well as the Tamworth and Armidale Regions. In 2013 Dana moved into the CEO’s position with the growth of Burrun Dalai.
Dana is the current Chairperson of the Aboriginal Child & Family Community Care Secretariat (AbSec). “Our children are our bright lights in our Black future, and we need to ensure that they have the opportunity to grow and flourish in a safe and healthy environment.”