Young adults leaving care will receive additional support into housing, education, and employment through a range of Palaszczuk Government initiatives brought together under an expanded support program.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the Next Steps Plus program would build on the support currently given to young adults after they leave statutory care up to the age of 25 to access a range of government services and programs aimed at supporting young adults to achieve independence, along with individualised support.
“There are more than 500 young people in care each year who turn 18, and supporting those young people after they leave care with things like housing support, training and skills, and help to find employment is a high priority for us,” she said.
“That’s why we amended the Child Protection Act to make sure that we start planning that transition to adulthood for every young person in care from the age of 15, and we keep supporting them after they leave care right up to the age of 25.”
Ms Farmer said initiatives to support young adults to achieve independence had been developed across government, including education and training, employment, and housing initiatives, along with additional financial support.
“We’ve extended carer allowances to the age of 19, which is one way we are supporting young people to transition to adulthood by making sure they can finish high school and not feel they have to do it all on their own from the moment they turn 18.
“But it’s also critical we provide a range of supports to help young people transition at their own pace – because not every young person will want to stay living with their carers.”
Ms Farmer said the CREATE Foundation, who is funded by the Queensland Government to support young people after they leave care, is currently undertaking research to evaluate what kind of supports young people need to successfully transition to independence.
“What’s really important about CREATE’s research is that it will be based on the voices of young people who have lived experience of being in care, who will draw on that experience to tell us what’s needed – instead of having a bunch of adults tell them what we think they need,” she said.
Palaszczuk Government initiatives to support young people transition to independence include:
- Programs delivered through Education Queensland to help young people engage with education and training
- Free TAFE for Year 12 leavers across 139 high demand industries
- The Nurse Navigators program, which supports young people in care to access priority healthcare
- Mental health initiatives focusing on young people, including initiatives to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people
- Access to women’s health and wellbeing programs for young women exiting care
- Improved housing solutions and pathways for young people, including Youth Foyers to support at risk young people
- The Queensland Youth Partnerships Initiative, working with corporate and community partners to provide opportunities to young people leaving care
- Skilling Queenslanders for Work programs aimed at supporting young people
Ms Farmer said tenders were now open for providers to deliver the redesigned Next Step Plus program, underpinned by an investment of $4.8 million each year.
Ms Farmer said successful organisations would need to have local experience and would work with the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to deliver the program to young people in their region.
“In designing Next Step Plus, we’ve listened to a range of stakeholders including current Next Step After Care providers, key non-government organisations including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations, government stakeholders and importantly, young people themselves,” she said.
Next Step Plus will commence in early 2020.