NSW lags nationally on caring for most vulnerable young people, as Victoria surges ahead
Tuesday 15 December 2020
New South Wales is now lagging behind the nation in caring for its most vulnerable young people after the Andrews Government extended state care to the age of 21 last month, national Home Stretch Chair Paul McDonald said today.
“This initiative will make a huge difference to those currently in foster, kinship and residential care in Victoria, halving homelessness for this group and improving their employment prospects dramatically. Realistically it should now be used as a template for other states like NSW to follow,” Mr McDonald said.
“Research shows that young people’s life chances improve substantially for every year that care is extended beyond the age of 18. As the responsible parent for young people in the child protection system, extending care is the simplest and most effective reform the NSW Government can make to transform these young lives for the better.
“Now that the Home Stretch reform has been adopted by Victoria last month, we have a situation where young people on one side of the Victoria-New South Wales border will have their care extended to the age of 21, while those on the other side will have theirs terminated at 18.
“Those in Wodonga and Echuca on the Victorian side get all the benefits of extended care, while across the Murray in Albury and Moama, care will be cut off at their 18th birthday.”
Mr McDonald said we know from international and national evidence that when care is extended to 21 years of age, everyone is a winner.
“Young people win with halved youth homelessness rates for this cohort, and they are twice as likely to have a job or be in higher education. The community is a winner as it reduces offending and arrests by a third, and the NSW Government is a winner as it will get a return on investment of $2.80 for every $1 it spends on extended care,” he said.
“Current arrangements by the NSW Government do not go far enough, and this needs to change. Extending care to the age of 21 can be the difference between surviving and thriving for those in the child protection system.”
Research by Deloitte Access Economics showed the following benefits of extending care to the age of 21:
- Every dollar invested paid back at least twice over in future savings
- 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 additional government services
- Improved mental and physical health outcomes, reduced intergenerational disadvantage and an increase in social connectedness.