Victorian Opposition Commits to Trial Extending State Care
14 June 2018 at 5:25 pm
The Victorian opposition leader has promised to trial the extension of state care from 18 to 21 if successful at the upcoming state election, putting pressure on the state government to reform Victoria’s care system.
Speaking at the 2018 Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) Summit on Wednesday, opposition leader Matthew Guy announced that a Liberal-Nationals government would conduct a two year pilot program for the extension of state care.
This pilot would provide funding for 75 places per year, providing young people transitioning from state care with support for their education, employment and housing.
“We will provide more support for Victoria’s most vulnerable kids,” Guy said.
“I want to break the current cycle of despair that young vulnerable people experience and this initiative will give those young people hope for the future.”
Shadow minister for families and children, Georgie Crozier, said this would provide practical and useful support to vulnerable young people leaving state care.
“Young people leaving state care face an uncertain future and we are committed to making sure that each one has the opportunities to improve their education and training, get a good job and plan for their future,” Crozier said.
This announcement comes on the back of a concerted campaign from Home Stretch, an alliance championing the extension of state care from 18 to 21.
These advocates say they have witnessed poor outcomes for those required to leave the care system on or before they turn 18, with many becoming homeless, involved with the criminal justice system, or facing unemployment.
In May, Home Stretch supporters gathered at the Victorian State Library to mark the launch of the group’s state election campaign, encouraging political parties to promise reform of Victoria’s state care system.
A great day for young Victorians in care as @MatthewGuyMP & @georgiecrozier announce at @VCOSS #GoodLife that a Liberal National would pilot the extension of care to 21 #MakeIt21 https://t.co/elN01AxPiB
— The Home Stretch (@The_HomeStretch) June 13, 2018
Home Stretch chair Paul McDonald praised Guy for his commitment to reform.
“This reform will have a positive impact on our most vulnerable young people in our state. It will change the futures of these young people for the better, ensuring they don’t become another youth justice, unemployment or homelessness statistic,” McDonald said.
Co-chair Deb Tsorbaris said the announcement was a win for the community.
“The sector supports this important reform and welcomes the opportunity to work to ensure no child is left behind,” Tsorbaris said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also spoke at the VCOSS Summit, but did not commit to extending state care.
Instead, he pointed to the government’s Better Futures trial, which provides young people leaving state care with support.
He told the summit that the trial showed promising early results, and would be extended a further year to gauge whether extending state care was feasible.
“We’re confident that this will give us the learnings that we need to perhaps make the step [of extending state care],” Andrews said.
“I think there is a very strong case [for reform] and one that will only be borne out by the work that’s been done and been funded to continue.
“Getting this right is very important. It’s not just about copying others… [it’s] about doing it in a uniquely Victorian way and that’s what the trial’s about.”
But McDonald told Pro Bono News that the Labor government’s lack of commitment was disappointing.
“We have one side of politics saying ‘I get it, I see the international evidence, I see the need for young people, I’m going to actually put forward responses to continue their care arrangement’,” he said.
“And yet we still have no commitment from the current Labor government which prides itself on social policy reform… what more evidence does this government need?”
Well done to all working on The Home Stretch campaign! Now @MatthewGuyMP has made a commitment we just need @DanielAndrewsMP to get on board! Smart advocacy by charities can achieve meaningful impact #MakeIt21 https://t.co/hlI8u43cTc
— Sarah Wickham (@sarahjwickham) June 13, 2018
McDonald called on the Andrews government to legislate and fund the extension of state care to 21 in Victoria.
“There are few social reforms that have had the universal social and economic outcomes for a government that extending care does. The social and economic outcomes when a government extends care to 21 years are remarkable for young people and for the state,” he said.
“This should be a bipartisan no brainer as seen in the recent Tasmanian election and we call upon the Andrews government to announce this much needed reform on behalf of the children under his government’s care.”
McDonald added that young Victorians were being left behind and struggling due to the government’s inaction in implementing reform.
“We have 800 people aged 15 to 17 leaving state care every year. We believe 400 will go on and do okay. But the other 400 will struggle,” he said.
“Waiting for the Better Futures trial from this Labor government… will see another 400 young people [struggling] every year.
“A lot of solid state government policy has been built on a lot less than the evidence for extending care. And they still haven’t done it.”