Western Australia takes podium position in life-changing reform for vulnerable young people, while those in NSW and Queensland continue to languish

Western Australia takes podium position in life-changing reform for vulnerable young people, while those in NSW and Queensland continue to languish

Monday 15 March 2021

The Home Stretch campaign has congratulated newly-returned Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, whose campaign pledge to extend universal foster, kinship and residential care to the age of 21 would mark another state adopting the life-changing reform following Victoria’s commitment last year.

Home Stretch WA Committee Chair, and Anglicare WA CEO, Mark Glasson said the McGowan Government has listened to the evidence and heard the lived experience of young people who’ve left the care system.

“They were the first government in Australia to initiate a trial of extended support to care leavers until they turned 21 to ensure development of a model that would suit the needs of young people exiting the WA system,” said Mr Glasson.

“Having led the Home Stretch WA trial, we are now ready to begin work immediately with the newly returned government to implement an extended support system for care leavers from the day they turn 18.”

Home Stretch National Chair Paul McDonald said the Western Australian Premier had recognised that the simple act of extending care can completely transform the lives of vulnerable young people for the better.

“Around 85 per cent of 18-year-olds across the country still live at home with their parents. It makes no sense for states and territories to terminate support for foster care and other types of state care at the age of 18 for the most vulnerable young people in our society,” Mr McDonald said.

“This initiative will be a huge relief for those in state care in WA who will turn 18 in the next 12 months without the support networks to help them that most of us take for granted. Research shows that the Home Stretch reform will halve youth homelessness among care leavers, double their odds of getting a job or going on to higher education and cut the odds of them ending up in the justice system. It’s a great result for young people.”

The McGowan Government’s victory gives additional momentum to the Home Stretch campaign, with most states and territories now having introduced some form of extended care or committed to doing so in the future.

Mr McDonald said unfortunately the Berejiklian Government in New South Wales had been slow to recognise the benefits of extended care, and Queensland’s Palaszczuk Government had so far only extended care by one year.

“Both Queensland and NSW have the opportunity to expand their ambition for children at risk, including their expectations of what they can achieve as adults with the right support through to the age of 21. Extending care is the simplest and most effective reform these state governments can make to transform these young lives for the better,” he said.

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.

More information about extending care for young people can be found on the Home Stretch website.

For further enquiries contact Emma-Jane Morcombe of Anglicare WA on 0439 272 262 or Sarah Baird of Anglicare Victoria on 0419 035 117 or sarah.baird@anglicarevic.org.au.


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