A national approach to extended care the goal at international conference, but NSW still without commitment
Thursday 22 September 2022
Foster carers and experts from Australia and overseas will use an international conference this Friday to stress the importance of extended care to the New South Wales Government and call for a commitment to the Home Stretch initiative ahead of the state election early next year.
More than 700 delegates attending the 2022 International Foster Care Conference (IFCO) will be invited to rise to their feet during the morning session, standing up in support of young people under the care of the Perrottet Government who have their care terminated on their 18th birthday. Every other state and territory government in Australia has committed to extending the end of state care (foster care) from the age of 18 to the age of 21.
National Home Stretch Chair Paul McDonald, who is delivering the opening keynote address at the International Foster Care Conference, said he will challenge the NSW Government to make significant steps forward in implementing universal extended care to 21 in the next six months.
“In Australia, the goal of offering support to the age of 21 for every young person across the country is so the care system can more accurately reflect the way traditional families operate. With seven out of eight governments having now adopted this policy, a national extended care approach is close to a reality,” Mr McDonald said.
“Young people under the care of the NSW Government should be able to enjoy the same certainties, supports and benefits that young people in care in every other state and territory are enjoying between the age of 18 and 21.
“The Minister has said the policy is ‘under review’, so with just six months to go before the NSW election, we expect both the Perrottet Government and NSW Labor make an announcement to adopt the policy to provide care to 21 years. We’re looking forward to NSW joining the rest of Australia – and the rest of that the world for that matter – in adopting this life-saving, life-changing policy.”
With care still expiring at 18 in NSW, 50 per cent of the state’s care leavers will be homeless or in prison within the first 12 months of their care being terminated. Unfortunately, it is the vulnerable young people in the care of the state that are missing out on the life-changing benefits now available to all young people in care just across the NSW border in every direction,” Mr McDonald said.
“This extension of three further years of care is critical, because every extra year of foster care beyond 18 dramatically increases the chances of this group finding a stable place to live, get a job, go on to higher education and stay out of the justice system.
Many of those attending the IFCO 2022 event are from countries which have introduced extended care and realised the benefits for young people who are transitioning to independence as adults. A recent report by the OECD called on its member countries to introduce extended care for all young people in state care as best practice.
Research by Deloitte Access Economics showed the following benefits of extending care to the age of 21:
- Every dollar invested paid back at least three times over in future savings (Deloitte estimates a return in NSW of $3.40 for every dollar invested in extended care)
- Homelessness among this group would be halved
- Rates of higher education participation would increase by 2.5 times
- Decreased arrests and hospitalisation
- Alcohol and drug dependence would decrease, from 15.8 per cent to 2.5 per cent
- Reduced costs of delivering future government services
- Improved mental and physical health outcomes, reduced intergenerational disadvantage and an increase in social connectedness.
The Home Stretch campaign represents more than 100 organisations calling on the Perrottet Government to follow all other Australian states and territories in adopting extended care – to give young people in foster, kinship and residential care the best chance of a positive future.
More information about extending care for young people can be found on the Home Stretch website.
For further enquiries contact Sarah Baird of Anglicare Victoria on 0419 035 117 or firstname.lastname@example.org