Help for Homelessness Falls Short for Young People Leaving Care
by Anglicare Vic.
16th December 2016

The state government's $109 million plan to attack homelessness is a welcome initiative, particularly for the adult homeless, but it has a big blind spot. It fails to hit the target on the most tragic, yet most easily fixed aspect of youth homelessness.

In the past year more thanover 20,000 young people sought assistance from Victorian homeless services. Young people with backgrounds of state care feature the most heavily in these statistics. According to Swinburne University's national youth homeless survey, more than 60 per cent of homeless young people are from a background of out-of-home care. A further 35 per cent will have five or more places of abode within the first 12 months of exiting state care.

These are young people whose childhoods have been blighted and disrupted by family breakdown, abuse or trauma. They live under the care of the state in foster care, kinship care or residential care until they are 18. But then they are "evicted" by the state. Subsidies for their place of care are cut off, they lose their case worker, and any state service they were receiving in care all disappears. They are on their own to fend for themselves regardless of their readiness and before they have the financial, emotional and domestic skills needed to live independently

It is little wonder they cope poorly. Current evidence shows that within 12 months of leaving state care 50 per cent will be unemployed, in jail, homeless or a new parent.