One backpack can mean the world

29 Apr 2022

“Buddy Bags give children a boost. Even though they’re worried about their home and families and possessions, they get some comfort in receiving new items that also meet their immediate hygiene needs. It’s one less thing to worry about.” – Social worker, Atlanta Hall.

A sense of safety and a feeling of security can often be found in the simplest of things, even amid chaos and fear.

Perhaps our best-known symbols of support are our Buddy Bags. These are backpacks thoughtfully packed for vulnerable children across Australia experiencing crisis, trauma, or doing it tough in emergency foster care.

These children and young people often arrive scared and alone, separated from parents or siblings, with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing.

When they open their Buddy Bag, the first thing they see is a teddy bear, followed by essentials from a toothbrush and toothpaste to PJs, underwear, and socks. 

Comfort amid trauma

Little Lilly was living through the worst day of her young life. She and her mum had to escape from their home on Christmas night leaving behind everything she had – including Santa’s presents.

But at the refuge they fled to, Lilly was given a Buddy Bag. Her case worker told us how tightly she hugged the bag and wouldn’t let it go. Lilly carefully emptied all the items and gently examined every one. She especially liked the book and asked her mum to read it to her straight away.

It was a welcome distraction for them both and helped Lilly settle into the unfamiliar surroundings.

That’s the comfort Buddy Bags can bring to children, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year when children are facing trauma or extreme hardship, suddenly fleeing home, having to evacuate, or going into foster care.

Each Buddy Bag is packed with love and care. It’s a special, individual bag filled with useful and comforting items – for children experiencing violence, trauma or crisis.

Buddy Bags are not just bags of goodies. Having new, clean, carefully selected items of their own shows children they matter and reassures them that someone cares.

And that can be the first step on their road to recovery.

We wish they weren’t needed. But we are grateful we can provide them to children like Lilly, thanks to our donors and to all those who support this important contribution.

In the first year alone, more than 3,000 Buddy Bags were sent to agencies for children and teenagers across Australia. Today, that number is close to 113,000 Buddy Bags distributed to children in need.

25 years: We provide support for children and young people who have experienced violence or trauma to recover, heal, and grow.