More support crucial for vulnerable youth

Some of our most vulnerable and at risk adolescents and young adults secured a win this week.

Bipartisan support was declared for out-of-home care to be extended to the age of 21.

Yesterday, the Liberals announced it would extend the out-of-care system if elected. This followed Labor’s announcement last month.  This is a solid example of commonsense decision making. Child safety should never be a political issue.

No one wins when children and some of the most vulnerable people in our community are used for political grandstanding.

Therefore it is great to see both parties acknowledging the current age limit is not realistic nor does it provide the best results.

The change in age also appears to have caught up with our education system. Beginning in 2020, all young people must participate in education or training until they complete grade 12, attain a Certificate III, or they turn 18 years of age, whichever occurs first.

Children enter out-of-home care for a variety of reasons. Often it is beyond the child’s control. The reasons can also involve trauma.

Turning 18 doesn’t give you all the solutions for life. The average child would find these answers through their support networks including their parents or extended family. Even then there are many failures and potential risky behaviours as they move from 18 to about 21.

Data isn’t needed to understand that children that who stay in long-term foster families will have better outcomes than those who don’t.

However, up until now, these children lose support when they officially become of legal age. This is when crucial life decisions are made. When employment and education pathways are chosen. 

Suddenly they are responsible for bills, housing and medical care. The support can be gone in an instant.

Once this election is over, regardless of who wins, these young people will be given support for an appropriate time.

Tasmania will be the first state in Australia to offer support beyond the age of 18. The investment will pay dividends for the long term outcomes for both those who are in out of care and the state. 

Hopefully other states will follow our example in supporting our vulnerable youth and bipartisan support will continue for issues that should never be about votes.

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