The age limit must be increased to 21 for all young people in out-of-home care in WA to increase successful transition into independent living and reduce homelessness.
Anglicare WA has again called for the current age limit of 18 to be increased in response to the Western Australian Auditor General’s Report into Young People Leaving Care.
The report, released last week, identified that while the Department of Communities is required to provide ongoing transition support until the young people turn 25, only one third access the support.
Anglicare WA Director Services Mark Glasson said the report by the Auditor General has confirmed what those working on the frontline have been saying for more than a decade.
“On any given night in WA, more than 3,000 Western Australians under the age of 25 don’t have a safe place to call home. Of those homeless young people encountered by Anglicare WA’s youth workers, a disproportionate number were once in State care,” said Mr Glasson.
“The report indicated that the leaving care support provided by the Department makes a positive difference to those who received it, however, about 65 per cent of young people don’t access it soon enough – or even at all.
“The Auditor-General also found that while departmental policy requires transition planning to begin when the child turns 15, it’s not happening in more than 80 per cent of cases.
“I commend the Minister for Communities for acknowledging the State Government has not done enough to support children leaving out-of-home care, and must do better.
However, Mr Glasson said the audit report did not go far enough with its recommendations.
“While this report recommended extending support and case management for those requiring it beyond the age of 18, unfortunately the Auditor-General has stopped short of recommending an overall increase in the age-limit.”
“Most parents wouldn’t expect their child to leave home when they turn 18, with almost 50 per cent of the population still living with mum and dad at the age of 24; yet those so vulnerable that they placed in the care of the State, don’t get the same opportunity.
Mr Glasson said there are multiple benefits of extending out-of-home care to the age of 21 as advocated by the Home Stretch campaign.
“Research conducted by Deloitte indicates increasing the age limit results in less homelessness, less crime, less hospitalisation and fewer young mums – in other words, it improves quality of life for young people who’ve had it tough from the outset.
“It makes good sense economically. The study finding for every $1 spent on increasing the age limit to 21, it will save $2.17 on the social issues it will prevent.
“Many European nations, the UK and most states in the US already having scrapped the 18 year old age limit on out-of-home-care; it is time Western Australia caught up.”
Mr Glasson said the positive results achieved by Anglicare WA through the Foyer Oxford youth housing service also highlighted the success of supported transition, with a 91 per cent success rate for those departing the service since opening in 2014,
Link to audit report: https://audit.wa.gov.au/reports-and-publications/reports/young-people-leaving-care/
Media contact: Emma-Jane Morcombe, Anglicare WA Media and PR Coordinator,