The Government must provide better support for young people leaving out of home care to ensure their successful transition into adulthood, Greens spokesperson for Child Protection Hon Alison Xamon MLC has said, following the tabling in Parliament today of the Auditor General’s Young People Leaving Care report.
Ms Xamon said the Auditor General’s report found 65% of young people leaving care who were eligible for support were not getting it, placing them at greater risk of homelessness and unemployment.
“The Auditor General also identified long wait times – with some young people waiting 18 months for support, as well as particularly concerning gaps in support for young people who live in remote locations, and for young people who need to access support outside of business hours,” she said.
“We know that this is a critical time for young people - the transition to adulthood is a significant developmental stage.
“Young people leaving out of home care during this time can face significant extra challenges without family support.
“Research shows that young people leaving care have poorer outcomes across a range of measures – therefore it is vital they get support.”
Ms Xamon said young people in care often had long histories of trauma.
She said these early experiences had a lifelong impact, influencing brain development, physical health and emotional and psychological wellbeing.
“The Auditor General found that, despite there being recognition of these vulnerabilities, there were substantial gaps in planning for young people leaving care,” Ms Xamon said.
“She found care plans were not timely nor comprehensive and did not consider critical needs like housing, education, employment and contingency plans.
“In 82% of cases, care planning did not begin at 15 as required by the Department’s policy and young people were not adequately engaged in the planning process, which meant plans did not adequately reflect their needs.
Ms Xamon said the report also found poor information exchanges between agencies, a failure to prioritise the needs of young people leaving care and a failure to track outcomes after leaving care.
She said in 80% of cases looked at by the Auditor General, young people leaving care did not finish high school, 54% were not linked to training or employment and 43% did not have stable accommodation.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Ms Xamon said.
“At the end of last year there were 4,800 children and young people in the care of the Department of Communities
“These children and young people are some of the most vulnerable, traumatised and disadvantaged people within our community.
“The Department of Communities has assumed the parental role for these young people – it must do better to live up to the requirements of this role.”