MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Families and Children, and the action I am seeking is in relation to Victoria’s leaving care age for young people on custody or guardianship orders. Under current Victorian policy about 1800 young people have their custody or guardianship orders expire each year when they turn 18. The consequence of the current leaving care age is that many of these young people suffer poor outcomes and do not transition to adulthood very well at all. We know that the average leaving home age in Australia is 24. Yet for this vulnerable cohort we push them out the door at the age of 18, and that is often to not only their detriment but society’s.
Home Stretch, a Victorian organisation, proposes extending this leaving care age to 21 in certain circumstances. This model has proven to be very successful in the UK and the USA, and the results have been really quite startling. In the USA continued care for young people past 18 has for this cohort halved homelessness, doubled education participation, doubled the odds of employment, reduced youth pregnancies by 38 per cent and reduced arrests by 54 per cent.
A Deloitte study that was commissioned to examine this issue in Australia predicts similar social outcomes if we continued care to the age of 21. They predict that you would halve homelessness from 39 to 19.5 per cent, decrease hospitalisation from 29 to 19 per cent, increase education engagement, decrease arrests and decrease drug and alcohol dependency. This would add up to great savings for the state. For every dollar invested in extending home care, $1.84 to $2.53 would be returned or saved. Home Stretch estimates that all this could be achieved via an investment of just $20 million over four years and $6 million thereafter, with considerable savings overall. I call on the minister to embrace the Home Stretch plan and extend the leaving care age to 21 years for those young people who require it.