Ms Amanda Jane (Mandy) Burns
Chief Executive Officer, Ardoch Youth Foundation
Mandy Burns has always had a passion for social justice and working with children and families. Mandy is a registered psychologist, and worked in a private practice in Perth for several years before moving to Melbourne in pursuit of a new challenge. Her search for a more exciting and inspirational role led Mandy to the Ardoch Youth Foundation as a volunteer. During her time at Ardoch, Mandy became a board member, an employee, and now, fifteen-years since she walked in the doors of the institute, CEO of the organisation.
Mandy has a hands-on approach to her work. Throughout her career at Ardoch, Mandy has personally witnessed the benefits to young people and the community. ‘This morning I attended one of our breakfast clubs, which is designed to ensure every child has the right start to learning at school. Fortunately, I have had thousands of opportunities to see our impact as I have sat with children, volunteers, staff and teachers to share how things are better and the changes they have seen.’
In 2011, Mandy was awarded a scholarship to attend the AICD Company Directors Course. This learning program for directors gave Mandy a comprehensive guide to contributing to organisational governance, and the roles and duties of being a board member. ‘The Company Directors Course has enabled me to better lead my organisation, support my board and deliver my support as a board member and chairman to another not for profit.’ The additional knowledge Mandy gained as a result of completing the AICD course also supported her nomination and subsequent short-listing for the Telstra Businesswomen’s Awards.
Mandy draws inspiration from the Ardoch volunteers, and the knock-on effect that comes from one person reaching out to another. Ardoch’s mission is to overcome learning barriers for young people, such as poverty, mental illness, addiction and family breakdown. Improving educational and life outcomes for Australian children is a priority for the Ardoch Foundation, and also the driving force behind Mandy’s work. ‘I’m inspired that such a small, grassroots, community-funded organisation could do so much by mobilising community compassion and resources. Most excitingly, it is the care and indeed social capital that is created when one person does something to help another that enthuses me.’
The Ardoch Youth Foundation is a community-funded organisation working to make education a reality for young people. Ardoch delivers programs that maximise the education prospects for young people, especially in communities experiencing disadvantage. Ardoch Education Support Centres work with the community and businesses to provide a range of programs for kids. These programs include learning support, breakfast and pantry-stocking programs, and social skills programs to reduce school bullying and isolation. Ardoch’s Volunteers Project currently delivers over 500 community and 4000 corporate volunteers in a range of roles including literacy and numeracy support, mentoring, homework help, assisting at fundraisers and delivering donated goods to families. These volunteers are working in over 50 schools and childcare centres across Australia.