Victorian Government funds an extra three years of out-of-home care for young people up to the age of 21

Key points:

  • The Victorian Government is spending $64.7 million to pay for three years of extra state care
  • Up until now support for young people in out-of-home care ended at the age of 18
  • Paul McDonald said the extra support would change the trajectory of the lives of those young people

When Dylan Langley was 16 he found his father for the first time and planned to go live with him when he left state care.

But that's not the way things worked out and he was faced with the possibility of having to go into a homeless shelter.

He was lucky and found transitional housing for a while but that didn't work out either so he ended up couch surfing with nowhere to go.

"I ended up in a real negative space," he said.

What he needed was a safe and secure environment so he could do some life admin, like get a tax file number, bank cards and consider what he wanted to do for a career.

But it was tough with no housing.

"Every time you go for something they go where is your address? And if you don't have one it makes it extremely difficult," he said.

Homeless rate for young people leaving care 'will be halved'

In Australia, 85 per cent of young people aged between 18 and 21 live with one or more of their parents.

But for young people living in out-of-home care, that support ends abruptly on their 18th birthday.

Dylan Langley is now an ambassador for the Home Stretch campaign, which was given $64.7 million in the state budget.

Paul McDonald, Chair of Home Stretch campaign
Paul McDonald called the funding from the Victorian Government a simple reform that would change lives.(ABC News: Aneeta Bhole)

The money will fund an extra three years of state care up until the age of 21 for those who want it.

Paul McDonald, the CEO of the Home Stretch, said for too long young people had been tipped out of the care system without any regard to their needs.

"To extend care for another three years will mean that we will halve the homeless rate of this group.

"This group makes up about two-thirds of the youth homeless numbers in this country.

"We will double their education and employment prospects and there will be a myriad of other social benefits."

Mr McDonald said every year in Victoria 800 young people left the care system.

"I know that by this simple reform it will change the trajectory and the destiny of all the young people who take up this option," he said.

'Now there's a future' for kids in care

A two-year trial of the program ended early, in part because it was so successful.

"It's been so oversubscribed but also so successful that young people immediately, almost overnight but certainly demonstrably, improved their own sense of self and their certainty in the world … and their confidence, Mr McDonald said.

He has been contacted by young people who had been through the out-of-home care system and they were excited that their younger brothers and sisters would be cared for until the age of 21.

"A carer contacted me who had a 14-year-old girl and this carer was fretting that by the time [the girl] was 18 she knew she'd never be ready. And now there's a future for her," Mr McDonald said.

"She just won't go from a care home to a homeless shelter, she'll be cared for and she will leave when she's now ready rather."

A smiling man in a suit and tie stands beside a lectern that says Home Stretch on it.
Dylan Langley found it hard to find his feet after leaving care with no permanent housing.(Supplied)

Dylan Langley said out-of-home care may not be perfect but it was a lot better than being homeless.

"I believe that's what this initiative can offer."

The celebrations for the Victorian Budget victory were short-lived.

Mr McDonald plans to take what he called Victoria's "nation-leading initiative" across the country.

"So that any young person in out-of-home care in this country — for years to come —will know that they can be cared for through to 21 just like any other young person," he said.


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