The State Government will invest $37.2 million to establish Home Stretch WA. The extended support program is designed to be flexible, funding carers to continue to provide support until 21, or assisting young people to live independently and engage in education, work or volunteering.
The Department of Communities has partnered with Yorganop, WA’s Aboriginal foster care agency, to extend support to young Aboriginal people in Perth, while Anglicare WA will deliver a Community of Practice to ensure a consistent and smooth state-wide expansion of the Home Stretch model.
The Premier’s announcement follows the successful Home Stretch WA Trial, a three-year co-design process, led by Anglicare WA and informed by young people with lived experience of the care system, to create a sustainable model of extended support. A partnership was established with Yorganop to co-design an Aboriginal-led, culturally-safe program for its care leavers.
Anglicare WA CEO Mark Glasson said the expansion of Home Stretch will help end youth homelessness.
“International research has shown that when you extend support to 21, it leads to fewer young people experiencing homelessness, struggling with unemployment and entering the criminal justice system. Instead, more care leavers enter or finish education, and secure employment.”
“This will be an enduring legacy of the McGowan Government and will transform the trajectory of hundreds of vulnerable young West Australians,” Mr Glasson said.\
“Minister for Child Protection Simone McGurk has championed the case for extending support to care leavers since Opposition and has supported the development of a Home Stretch model unique to WA”.
Yorganop CEO Dawn Wallam said the success of the trial laid the foundation for the current roll-out.
“We look forward to continuing our work with Anglicare WA and the Department of Communities WA and contributing to the establishment of the Community of Practice, which will be critical to the successful implementation of Home Stretch by other Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, as the service is rolled out across Western Australia,” said Ms Wallam.
More than 55% of WA children in state care are Aboriginal, despite only being 3% of the total population. Named ’Nitja Nop Yorga Ngulla Mia’ (in Noongar means ‘Our Boys and Girls are Staying Home’), the Anglicare WA-Yorganop partnership focused on understanding the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal care leavers.
“Anglicare WA is committed to coming up with new ways to solve old problems. With Home Stretch, we have delivered service innovation through partnership with government, with sector agencies and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, like Yorganop, and with the real experts – those with lived experience,” said Mr Glasson.