As a major provider of out-of-home care services across Victoria, Berry Street is a strong advocate for better support for young people when they leave the protection and care system. Without adequate support services, the outcomes for young people leaving care are relatively very poor.
In Victoria, about 400 young people between the ages of 16 and 18 leave care each year and most of these young people must make the transition to independence without the support of family.
Without adequate support services, the outcomes for young people leaving care are relatively very poor with the CREATE Foundation’s 2009 Report Card finding that for Australian young people transitioning care:
28.5% were unemployed
35% were homeless in the first year
45% were involved in the youth justice system
63% did not have any plan for their transition from care.
Across 4 Berry Street regions, we have a range of initiatives related to leaving care. The programs delivered in Gippsland, Hume and the North are funded by the Department of Human Services as part of their suite of Leaving Care responses.
In Berry Street’s Gippsland region in South Eastern Victoria, we run the Community Connections program and mentoring in partnership with Whitelion:
- Community Connections: gives young people opportunities to join outings and activities to help connect them to their community. Young people are connected to job and education opportunities to help them work towards their personal and professional goals.
- Mentoring: each young person is matched with a trained volunteer mentor from the community who helps them with their personal and professional goals. Mentors provide guidance, support and encouragement.
The program is in line with the Better Futures model.
Better Futures providers in Gippsland can refer young people aged from 15 years and 9 months to 21 years old to Community Connections.
In partnership with Central Hume Support Services and the Rural Housing Network, Berry Street offers a Leaving Care program for care leavers who are assessed as being at risk of long term homelessness. The program aims to assist young people to acquire suitable accommodation, develop independent living skills and community networks.
Berry Street delivers the regional Post Care Support, Referral and Information Service that assists care leavers aged 16 to 21 years who require support in transitioning to independence. Young people receive support from a case worker as well as access to brokerage money for items such as accommodation, recreation, education and health.
Within our case management, residential and home based care services, we are committed to developing individualised leaving care plans for young people. Our approach includes extended transition support with local partners and active inclusion of young people in the planning process.