The Home Stretch is a national campaign formed to seek change to the current leaving care arrangements for young people in care with the aim to extend the leaving care age from 18 to 21 years of age. Based on our experience, we agree with the organisers and other signaturees that the Out-of-Home Care system should support vulnerable youth until they’re 21.
It is time things change in line with society’s expectations of what a young person should achieve, in particular, the level of education and training expected in order to be independent and earn enough money to support their own household.
The 2009 survey conducted by the CREATE foundation on care leavers (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2010) demonstrated that:
- 35% were homeless in the first year of leaving care;
- 46% of boys were involved in the juvenile justice system;
- 29% were unemployed;
Furthermore, a study by the Care Leavers Australia Network (2008) reported that:
- 41% were pregnant during their adolescence;
- 43% – 65% of care leavers have poor mental health outcomes (including depression, Anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks and sleep disorders).
Taken from the Home Stretch website, you can read more here.
We think they deserve better, we think we can do better
Over 80% of young Australians aged 18 to 21 live at home with their families, do you believe a young person should be kicked out of home at the age of 18? We don’t – these are vulnerable young people who have no family support, emotional or financial, to fall back on. These young people have often been moved to different homes multiple times throughout their lives and then cut off on their 18th birthday.
The Commissioner’s report on leaving care found that one third of young people become homeless within 3 years of leaving care, half require mental health services and 70% live below the poverty line.
The cost of extending the age to 21
Deloitte Access Economics conducted a report on the socioeconomic costs and benefits of extending care exit from the age of 18 to the age of 21 in Victoria for Anglicare Victoria. This report found that the return on investment was almost 2:1, that is for every $1 invested in the program there is an expected return of $1.84 in either savings or increased income.
You can read more about the Deloitte Report here.
Victoria has already extended the age of leaving care to 21, WA has piloted a program, NSW, QLD, NT, WA are hopefully next.
More than 19,000 children in NSW were in care in 2018-2019 (AIHW)
Paul McDonald is the CEO of Anglicare Victoria, is the Chair of Home Stretch will be speaking at the National Youth Homelessness Conference, which will also feature our very own patron Professor Brian Burdekin, AO.
What can you do?
Sign the pledge and share the campaign on social media, send to family and friends to sign too. Use the hashtags #homestretch #makeit21