OHC-homeless-young
Young people leaving state administered care are 17.5 times more likely to experience homelessness. Image – Canva
  • Young people exiting state administrated care have significantly poorer outcomes
  • They are 4.5 times more likely to attend an emergency department within four years
  • 17.5 times more likely to use homelessness services within four years

The lack of a sufficient transition process for young people who are leaving state administered out-of-home care is leaving them ill-equipped for living independently.

A new report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURi) has produced some shocking statistics concerning the outcomes of out-of-home care (OHC) leavers.

Within four years of leaving care:

 

Within four years of leaving care, young people are experiencing soaring rates of homelessness, unusually high rates of hospitalisation and concerning rates of interactions with the justice system.

The lead researcher for the report, Associate Professor Robyn Martin of RMIT University, said the less than adequate transitional support for those leaving OHC is at the root of the problem.

“Our research found a distinct lack of transitional planning for young people and this exacerbates the fact that care leavers have few options, limited material, social and family supports, and few or no safety nets to fall back on should they experience hardship or difficulty,” she said.

“The statutory authority who facilitated the removal of the child from their family is legally and morally responsible for their wellbeing and this should extend to transitional arrangements from care,” Dr Martin continued.

“There should be no exit into homelessness or inappropriate housing.”

Dr Robyn Martin, RMIT University

The experience of OHC leavers is a stark contrast to the rest of the population of young people. The OHC leavers are 2.7 times more likely to be admitted to hospital, 4.5 times more likely to attend an emergency department, 21 more likely to receive drug/alcohol treatment.

Furthermore, OHC leavers are 17.5 times more likely to use homelessness services.

Between 2018 and 2019 across Australia, 3,357 young people aged 15 to 17 years left state administered care.

The research was conducted  AHURi by researchers from Monash University, RMIT University and Curtin University. The pathway of young care leavers in Victoria and Western Australia was examined in terms of housing, homelessness, mental health, alcohol and drug and juvenile justice service usage.

“All jurisdictions have work to do to ensure that care leavers are supported to develop the skills, information and knowledge they need to successfully transition from care.”

“We also propose a national, minimum leaving care age of 25 years benchmarked by the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children,” she said.

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