Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1739 ..
be access to assistance from experts who know how to work with kids to help them re-engage with school and learn better.
The next step was to see what might be happening in other states and territories to address these needs. This search took me to Anglicare Victoria’s TEACHaR program, which this motion specifically recommends for review. This program provides exactly what youth workers have stated that they need. Educational professionals work extensively with children and young people living in out of home care, providing them with frequent and regular direct tutoring, one on one, particularly in regard to literacy- and numeracy-related tasks. These professionals also provide in-class support, collaborate with and provide specialised support to teachers and, importantly, work directly with carers to provide them with the confidence, resources and training that they need to encourage and extend what is happening at school and what is happening in individual tutoring sessions. In all cases, the goal is increased school attendance, better educational engagement and bridging the gap between a student’s current educational level and age-appropriate benchmarks.
This program has also been rigorously evaluated, with significant results. For example, a snapshot report from 2016 provides data specifically on children and young people in residential care. Only 34 per cent of these kids were assessed as being always or usually engaged in learning at the point of entering the program. After six months, nearly 63 per cent were engaged. Just under 20 per cent were reaching average overall academic achievement upon service entry. Six months later, this figure had more than doubled.
In light of its success, the TEACHaR program has been awarded the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Robin Clark Education Initiative Award. I understand that the Victorian government is in the process of replacing its own children in residential care educational support program with one whose guidelines are based on this Anglicare program. In preparation for this motion, I have spoken with the Director of Project Development and Innovation at Anglicare Victoria and she has assured me that they would be thrilled to have the ACT government review what they are doing to see whether a similar service could be made available here.
In Victoria, the current cost of providing this program to one child or young person for a school term is $5,000. This means that every kid in residential care in Canberra could be supported across four school terms for an amount less than $900,000. A decision to adopt or replicate a program such as this would need to go through the normal budgeting process, of course, but, in the meantime, it is important to keep in mind the known cost of educational disadvantage. As the Victorian Auditor-General has stated in relation to residential care services for children:
Studies have found the economic and social cost of not effectively supporting such children are ultimately borne directly by the criminal justice and health systems, and indirectly in the lost productivity associated with poor education levels and homelessness.
I conclude by thanking the territory’s youth workers. They work in sometimes very difficult circumstances, but they do so with good hearts and a genuine commitment to