Our Sustainability Partners Are Achieving Great Things

The Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation supporting children living in families affected by mental illness.

Kookaburra Kids helps children by empowering young people to build knowledge around mental illnesses, to hone social and emotional skills and develop strategies to foster long-term success.


“We aspire to be recognised as national experts in empowering young people to grow beyond the impacts of familial mental illness.” Chris Giles, CEO AKKF


Founded in the Sutherland Shire in 2002, the Kookaburra Kids Foundation has grown into a large community organisation providing free programs in all major Australian capital cities

Supporting over 2,800 children, these national programs include camps and activity days for children 8-18 years. Also they provide targeted programs like the ‘Defence Kids Program’ for children with parents who have served, or are serving in the Australian Defence Force.

A new support program “Kookaburra Kids Connect”, originally launched in 2020 in the COVID period, continues to provide vital online support and peer contact to young participants.


“The program provides evidence-based and age-appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services, embedded within peer-based social and activity-based formats.” Dr. Virginia Williams, Research Director AKKF


As long-term partners, the Big Sister Foundation initially supported Kookaburra Kids with office space and funding to run annual camps run for children in Sydney’s South East .With demand  ever growing, funding was then provided to foster sustainability in Kookaburra’s service model through development and mentoring initiatives, fundraising, governance and leadership training.

As part of continuing support, Big Sister Foundation sponsored a pilot program in 2015 called ‘Girls Taking Flight’, providing mentoring for girls 18 and over, to foster confidence and support in the creation of their future goals. The program was adopted and funding was continued for 2 years.

In 2018, Kookaburra Kids embarked on a research program with the aim of optimising their existing program impact. This research is evaluating the evidence of the advantages of early intervention and mental health education in families. Conducted in conjunction with University of Wollongong, the five-year study seeks to demonstrate measurable outcomes and explore the effectiveness of Kookaburra’s ‘psycho-education program’. At the centre of the research is a ‘co-design’ process, relying on the support and feedback of children and families involved in Kookaburra’s programs.


“Largely funded by the Big Sister Foundation, the research programprovides an evidence base of the long-term positive impact thatKookaburra Kids provides for children living in families affected by mental illness.


For further information on The Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation visit their website:


Dandelion Support Network works with hospitals, support agencies and case workers to connect with families in need of supplies including children’s clothes and nursery items.

Free to all recipients, the donations include car seats, prams, cots, toys and clothing. Operating from Caringbah, NSW all donations are collected and inspected for safety over three donation  sites that also include Maroubra and Castle Hill.


“Our vision is that all babies and children have access to nursery items essential for their safety, well-being and development.” Gabrielle Humphreys, CEO Dandelion


The recycle service was originally started in 2011 as a small grass roots service run by two local Shire mums in their garage. Today, Dandelion has clients across NSW. This rapid expansion and growth in the demand for Dandelion’s  services has seen over 10,000 families across Sydney and regional NSW provided with quality and lasting items.

Dandelion’s key goal is to promote children’s health and safety whilst promoting sustainability, repurposing and recycling of all donated items. With a team of five staff and around sixty volunteers, Dandelion in 2019 distributed free of charge 422 cots, 196 bassinet, 751 prams and 734 car seats to clients across NSW.

By developing a customised management and logistics system, Dandelion continually measures and tracks the social impact of their operations, including at a local council level.

In 2019 – 2020 in partnership with 630 social workers across 37 NSW government areas, Dandelion achieved a social return on investment of 2.5 : 1.

This encompassed 66 tonnes of nursery items provided for families in need  that otherwise would have been consigned to landfill.

Big Sister Foundation and Dandelion have worked together since 2014. Big Sister has provided sustainability funding to enable employment of key staff, improve operational effectiveness and manage growth . Our current partnership focuses on staffing, sustainability, as well as meeting the growing in demand for many additional nursery items, such as cots, that aren’t available through donations.

Gabrielle Humphreys from the Dandelion Support Network explained the benefits of partnering.


“What makes the Dandelion partnership with Big Sister so unique is that the Big Sister Foundation isn’t just about funding. It’s a true partnership with sharing of ideas, mentorship, education and connections,” she said. “Our partnership with Big Sister, has enabled Dandelion to work towards long term sustainability and the opportunity to grow at a pace that we needed.”


For further information on The Dandelion Support Network visit their website:


Hopefield offers an extensive range of community programs in support of those most in need in the Sutherland Shire.

Founded with the belief that everyone should be valued regardless of background or current circumstance, Hopefield provides emotional, social and mental health support to vulnerable members of the community.

Historically, Hopefield’s work related to housing, mental health and support for the NDIS clients. However, over the past few years services have extended to case management for domestic violence victims, homeless services, community food co-ops, speech pathology and retail op shops.

Through their community outreach efforts in 2019, Hopefield helped over 300 clients, and conducted nearly 1,300 counselling sessions.

Additionally, in partnership with One Meal, Hopefield served over 615 meals to families in need, a free service  (to local residents)<delete that continues to expand on a weekly basis.


“Hopefield is a community based, Christ centred organisation, that provides holistic professional services, inspiring hope and transforming lives,” Vicki Sherry, CEO of Hopefield.


As a long-standing Shire-based community organisation, Hopefield began life in 1995 as ‘Southern Community Welfare’, a two-person counselling service in the Gymea Baptist Church. In 2019 they rebranded as Hopefield to encompass the ever broadening base of services.


“At the core of Hopefield is hope. Through every action at the organisation our mission is to ensure individuals are healthy internally and externally, families are safe, happy and interconnected with communities that enable them to flourish,” said Vicki Sherry.


Hopefield is able to expand their work supported by an 8 year funding partnership with the Big Sister Foundation. This long-term sustainability funding has enabled Hopefield to provide additional case management services to support women in the most vulnerable situations. In addition,this support also encompasses Hopefield’s local homeless initiatives based in Cronulla and the Shire Community Food Co-op, a collaborative food relief program involving three other community organisations.

The Big Sister Foundation continues to support Hopefield in varying capacities to ensure these vital services continue to be available to those most in need the local community.

For further information on Hopefield visit their website:


Project Youth connects young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to housing, support and education through a variety of free programs. For over 28 years, Project Youth has operated in the Sutherland Shire and St George local government areas.

Based in Miranda, with a team of 90 paid staff and 57 volunteers, the organisation offers 22 varying programs encompassing support for youth housing and homelessness, early intervention prior to the judicial system, employment and job education programs.


“These programs are designed to support young people to find opportunities where they can determine their own future, a future where they can break free from disadvantage and thrive.” Jodie Darge, CEO of Project Youth


Now assisting up to 4,000 young people each year, with an ever growing client list, Project Youth continues its 10 year partnership with the Big Sister Foundation. Jodie Darge, the CEO of Project Youth, describes this partnership as ‘unique’ and “one that is bolstered by discussion and a true investment in the community.”

With flexible seed funding from Big Sister Foundation, Project Youth has been able to test and pilot Labour Y, an employment program for young people that are not supported by parents or traditional government funded programs.

Project Youth’s CEO, Jodie Darge explained the importance of supporting vulnerable youth, “Addressing the unique needs of these young people through vocational courses, job-readiness courses and case management removes barriers to employment for the young people involved.” Big Sister funding has enabled the program to be rolled out and tested, allowing for an iterative program redesign based on findings from the 2 year pilot program.


“The Big Sister funding allows us to test ideas to develop programs that meet needs that are not being met elsewhere. This relationship creates security and trust in a climate of uncertainty, allowing Project Youth the opportunity to serve the community with sustainable and effective programs.” Jodie Darge, CEO of Project Youth


Big Sister Foundation continues to support Project Youth with Educate Y, a program to enable young people to secure alternative methods of education along with helping homeless young people find secure and independent living situations.

For further information on Project Youth visit their website:


Early Years Support Service provides a vital early intervention program for mothers with new babies who are vulnerable due to isolation from family or friends, history of domestic violence, multiple births, mental health issues or disability in the family.

Operated by 3Bridges since 2015 this unique and free service has a 20 year history of supporting new and vulnerable mothers in the Sutherland Shire and St George areas. The service currently supports approximately 103 families across both areas and is managed by two experienced directors.

The home-based service is delivered by over 75 professionally trained and supervised volunteers. In recognition of the comprehensive volunteer  orientation and training framework, EYSS was the recipient of the NSW Volunteer Team of the Year Award in 2020.

Volunteers are often parents, grandparents, or experienced early childcare workers. They provide a reliable, flexible and non-judgmental home visitor service,  building the confidence and parenting skills of their clients. Volunteers often function as an extended family support network,  providing early intervention through their weekly 3-4 hour home visits, often over an extended period of 3-12 months.

The Big Sister Foundation has supported the continuation and growth of the EYSS service over a 15 year long partnership. With the goal of reaching long term sustainability for the service, Big Sister provided ongoing funding, office premises and strategic advice leading to the organisation being fully funded and integrated into 3Bridges Community group in 2021


“EYSS provides an example of how Big Sister fosters the development and growth of valuable community services by working with community organisations in developing long-term sustainability. “ Kim Brown, Chair, Big Sister Foundation


For further information on 3Bridges EYSS visit their website:



The Family Co. (formerly Sutherland Shire Family Services) is a grassroots, not for profit community organisation that believes that all children and families deserve a safe home, strong connections and opportunities to thrive.

In 2021 Big Sister Foundation continues supporting Family Co. with new funding provided for additional domestic violence case work. This donation builds on past donations for the Links to Safety program (providing access to timely and critical safety measures for women escaping domestic violence) and the Love Bites Respectful Relationships Program (for high-school student education on avoiding domestic violence, sexual assault and unhealthy relationships.)