SUPPORTING young people in state care until they turn 21 will halve homelessness, triple education participating and reduce alcohol and drug dependency, according to Anglicare WA Services director Mark Glasson.
Mr Glasson is leading the WA campaign for Home Stretch, a national initiative calling on all state governments to change legislation so children in state care are formally supported until the age of 21.
“What we know is that people who have been in state care with traumatised backgrounds are not equipped to live independently,” he said.
“The bottom line is the State (Government) has made the decision that these young people need to be in care outside the family.
“The system of services needs to be different, to empower and support them so they can make wise decisions.
“They need help with education, accommodation, mental health and income support.”
Children in State care are largely left to fend for themselves once they turn 18, making them our most vulnerable young people.
Community News is supporting Home Stretch, a national campaign urging all state governments to change legislation to support them until they are 21.
Here’s how YOU can help:
1. Join the Home Stretch campaign at: thehomestretch.org.au
2. Sign up to be a foster carer at: www.dcp.wa.gov.au
St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive Susan Rooney said providing those extra three years of care had proven successful in the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand.
Ms Rooney said at least 30 per cent of young people that accessed support services at Vinnies’ Passages hub had exited state care early or had been exited in to homelessness.
She said that if the Government didn’t take care of these young people now, it would cost more to the community in the long term.
“It we have an option for young people to be supported in the right way there will be less homeless people in the state,” she said.
“We know that 50 per cent of long term homeless people have been homeless as a young person.”
If Home Stretch was legislated in WA…
- Hospital visits would decrease by 30 per cent
- Arrests would be down 60 per cent
- Alcohol and drug dependency would decrease from 15.8 per cent to 2.5 per cent
Source: Anglicare WA