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EXCLUSIVE 

A Sydney family from a housing estate on the city’s western fringe is still living in grinding poverty 11 years after appearing in a documentary about their lives. 

Little has changed for the Burns family, who opened their home to ABC cameras for a Four Corners program titled Growing Up Poor in 2012.

Today, Brett and Caroline Burns are still living in public housing in the suburb of Claymore, located 54km south-west of the CBD and known for its high rates of unemployment and crime.

At the time of filming, the Burns family had been living in their run-down townhouse for 13 years. This year marks their 24th year calling Claymore, known as a ‘welfare ghetto’, home.

Caroline apologised as she welcomed Daily Mail Australia into her home. ‘Excuse the mess. We’re still waiting on getting rehoused,’ she said.

The Burns family (pictured a 2016 Facebook photo) took part in a Four Corners documentary titled Growing Up Poor in 2012

The Burns family (pictured a 2016 Facebook photo) took part in a Four Corners documentary titled Growing Up Poor in 2012

Hayden Burns was 14 years old when he spoke to Four Corners about his struggles at home

Hayden Burns was 14 years old when he spoke to Four Corners about his struggles at home

At the time of filming the documentary, he struggled with bullying at school, and his parents' constant arguments made him withdraw from the family

At the time of filming the documentary, he struggled with bullying at school, and his parents’ constant arguments made him withdraw from the family

Hayden Burns (pictured on December 12) spends his days rummaging through bins around the neighbourhood in search of empty bottles and cans he then exchanges for a 10c refund

Hayden Burns (pictured on December 12) spends his days rummaging through bins around the neighbourhood in search of empty bottles and cans he then exchanges for a 10c refund

Kerry O'Brien introduced the 2012 Four Corners special 'Growing Up Poor'

Kerry O’Brien introduced the 2012 Four Corners special ‘Growing Up Poor’

Like many other families in Claymore, the Burns’ source of income is Centrelink with neither Caroline nor Brett working.

The cycle of poverty and unemployment has continued for the couple’s eldest son Hayden, 25, who still lives at home with his parents and sister Haylie, 14.

Hayden spends his days rummaging through bins around the neighbourhood in search of empty bottles and cans he then exchanges for a 10c refund.

At the time of filming the documentary, Hayden, then 14, struggled with bullying at school, and his parents’ constant arguments made him withdraw from the family.

During the program, Brett moved into the garage because of his fights with Caroline. It was later revealed Brett had physically abused her in front of the children.

Today, the couple continue their fraught relationship, but Caroline believes their overall circumstances have improved, and is looking forward to living in a new public house provided by the NSW Government under a ‘social re-engineering project’.

‘The area is a lot better than it was back then,’ she said.

The Burns family has lived at the Claymore house for 24 years and are waiting to be rehomed

The Burns family has lived at the Claymore house for 24 years and are waiting to be rehomed

Brett and Caroline Burns are pictured with their middle daughter Jessica and her newborn

Brett and Caroline Burns are pictured with their middle daughter Jessica and her newborn

Abandoned homes in Claymore are pictured

Abandoned homes in Claymore are pictured

The Claymore housing estate was built by the NSW Government in the 1970s and is home to more than 3,000 of the state’s poorest families.

Forty years on, Claymore remains a depressing sight with many burnt-out and abandoned homes and rubbish littering the community. 

But Claymore, along with neighbouring Bonnyrigg Heights and Airds, is due to undergo a transformation as part of the major social project.

‘It is at stage five of an eight-stage redevelopment,’ Campbelltown MP Greg Warren said.

‘Building materials and the pandemic have held up construction. At this stage it’s unknown when the project will be completed.’

Under the new project, the redevelopment will see a mix of new public and privately owned homes.

Claymore remains a '<a href=welfare ghetto‘ with much of the community littered in trash with empty homes damaged and set alight” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Claymore remains a ‘welfare ghetto’ with much of the community littered in trash with empty homes damaged and set alight

Mum-of-three Kaisey, who has called Claymore home for 20 years, says the area is safer since people have been rehomed

Mum-of-three Kaisey, who has called Claymore home for 20 years, says the area is safer since people have been rehomed

Claymore, as well as nearby Bonnyrigg Heights and Airds, will see a mix of new public and privately owned homes (above)

Claymore, as well as nearby Bonnyrigg Heights and Airds, will see a mix of new public and privately owned homes (above) 

Longtime resident Kaisey, 29, said the area is a lot safer since residents have been slowly rehomed.

‘I used to live on Ramsay Way but our place got set alight,’ said the mum-of-three.

‘It’s all changing now that they’re knocking it all down – it looks rough but it’s safe. I love Claymore.’

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