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Supporting the Barnardos Australia Yurungai Learning Centre

Updated: May 18

Their Story: Emma*


The Australian Mutuals Foundation is proud to be Barnardos Australia’s top corporate partner, a leading children’s charity which runs the Yurungai Learning Centre in Waterloo, NSW.


The Yurungai Learning Centre is an after-school homework support service primarily available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children attending primary school with a focus on education and cultural activities where children receive an afternoon meal.


One child who is receiving support at the centre is Emma*, a shy six year old who began attending the Yurungai Learning Centre in 2020, initially attending for three days per week until she settled in.


Emma lives with her single mum and older sister in local public housing blocks. Though Emma enjoyed school, she was having problems staying engaged with her learning and Emma’s mum noticed that she was lagging behind many of the other children in her class. She realised Emma needed more educational support to help her along her way, so reached out to the Yurungai Learning Centre to see if they could assist.


After getting to know Emma a little more, the staff at Yurungai noticed Emma would distract herself from any work she might be having trouble with, so the staff made sure to monitor her carefully and also suggested to her mum that she get Emma’s eyes checked as it seemed she was struggling with reading.


Following a visit to the optometrist, Emma was prescribed a pair of reading glasses. She was initially embarrassed about wearing them, but with some encouragement from the Yurungai staff and by making it into a fun activity, Emma gained confidence. This boost, as well as additional attention and support from staff, saw Emma not only improve her reading and enjoyment, but also her self-esteem.


Despite this progress, unfortunately when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdowns were put in place forcing school closures, Emma again fell behind with her reading and she went back into her shell. Following further investigation by Yurungai staff, Emma’s mum revealed that Emma’s father had left the family and started a new life elsewhere. Understandably, this had left Emma confused and unhappy, further exacerbating her disengagement with her education.


Knowing the importance of Emma’s circumstances, the staff at Yurungai made her a priority and once the centre was re-opened following the easing of restrictions, staff ensured Emma would be able to return. Back in the Yurungai community, Emma felt supported and started building up her confidence once again, and was better able to manage her emotions and behaviour.


Emma now attends Yurungai five days a week and she is just one example of how Barnardos helps disadvantaged children reach their potential through educational, cultural and overall wellbeing support.


The Australian Mutuals Foundation is proud to be a corporate partner to Barnardos Australia, which is one of Australia’s leading children’s charities. If you would like to help support their amazing work, please donate today.


*name changed and stock photo used to protect privacy

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