Australia’s leading universities recommend extension of state care to the age of 21 as part of COVID-19 recovery effort
Thursday 30 April 2020
A landmark report from Australia’s top universities has recommended that state care be extended to the age of 21 for all young people as part of the national recovery process from coronavirus. This move would lock in the benefits of the Home Stretch reforms for some of the most vulnerable people in the country.
The recommendation was one of a range of actions in A roadmap to recovery – A report for the nation, released by the Group of Eight (Go8) universities.
Home Stretch Chair Paul McDonald said the reform was a simple and practical step that would relieve stress for young people in state care and reduce both youth homelessness and unemployment.
“Most state care for vulnerable young people across the country ends at age 18, meaning that this birthday is no cause for celebration for those in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC). It is fantastic to see the recommendation to ‘make it 21’ in a major report by our leading universities on the recovery process from COVID-19,” he said.
“Young people in particular are struggling to adapt to their shrinking world, with many of their traditional interests now off limits. Authorities need to show some understanding and compassion during the restrictions which affect us all.”
Under current arrangements, the majority of young people in state care who turn 18 across the country in 2020 will have their support terminated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Victoria is the only state to formally extend care until the end of the year.
As part of the exit and recovery phase from COVID-19, the Go8 report makes the following recommendation for young people in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC):
Funding for the evidence-informed “Home Stretch” program to offer in-care and post-care support to children in OOHC until they are 21 to foster their COVID-19 recovery process because those are young people who are forced to live out of home. It is also recommended that police are conscious of the vulnerability of those in OOHC.
Mr McDonald said in the short term, states such as Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia should commit to extending care until the end of the year for all young people who are due to have their support terminated in 2020.
“We have a duty of care to these vulnerable young people during a national health emergency. The Home Stretch urges all other states and territories across Australia to follow Victoria’s lead and ensure that no young person is put more at risk during these uncertain times.”
The Go8 is made up of the top universities in the country, including Melbourne University, the Australian National University, the University of Sydney, the University of Queensland, the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia, Monash University and UNSW Sydney.
The full report is available from the Go8 website, and the relevant recommendation is in Chapter 10.
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