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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 May 2021) . . Page.. 1289 ..

justice reinvestment and the social determinants of health. The significant evidence base that is drawn on to support extending care and familial connections for people in out of home care shows us that young people in the care system are more likely to experience poor mental health, drug use, homelessness, poverty and violence if they are not provided with ongoing support past 18.

We know that investing our efforts and resources in providing young people in the care and protection system with housing, education, familial supports and community has a significant impact on their wellbeing and security throughout their lives. Evidence from the United Kingdom presented in Anglicare Victoria’s 2016 report into extending out of home care for young people shows us that young people who can stay with their foster families into their 20s are more than twice as likely to stay enrolled in full-time education, more likely to find and sustain employment, and more likely to find appropriate, stable housing arrangements. We know from our work with the ACT Youth Coalition that community and familial support for all young people in their late teens to early-to-mid-20s has a significant impact on lifelong wellbeing and is a preventative measure to ensure resilient mental health. This is particularly important when it comes to young people in the care and protection system.

This motion calls on the government to ensure that young people have the security of knowing that they will be supported beyond age 18. We need to develop a system where all young people who would benefit from ongoing support are assumed to receive it. While the current process allows for 18 to 21-year-olds to apply to access support, this opt-in care system places an ongoing administrative burden on young people and their foster families. This is an unnecessary burden and can create tensions for young people seeking greater independence. We know that the lifelong journey of a child involved with the care and protection will often be negatively impacted long after leaving care, and we believe that they should be able to access ongoing support as a matter of course. It should not be something they have to fight for.

We want to see these policy changes enshrined in the Children and Young People Act to provide security and assurance to young people and to those who look after them. This security is vital for carers and young people to be able to plan together for the first few years of adulthood. Thanks to research done by Deloitte Access Economics, we know that for every dollar spent extending care to young people from 18 to 21 years of age we save $1.75, due to the reduced impact on our criminal justice system and our homelessness sector. While the economic arguments pale in comparison to the social and emotional outcomes for young people in our care, this policy change will also free up resources that can be reinvested into the care and protection system and the organisations that provide support and advocacy for these young people and their families.

In February, I met with one of these fantastic organisations, the CREATE Foundation, along with one of their young consultants, who told me about their experience in Canberra’s child protection system. It was very powerful to meet such an articulate young person who has had first-hand experience of the systems that we are discussing today. It took me back to a time in my adolescence when I was struggling to retain connection to my community while navigating homelessness. I could see the great

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