Ending Australia’s Status as a “Leaving Care Laggard”: The Case for a National Extended Care Framework to Lift the Outcomes for Young People Transitioning From Out-of-Home Care

Philip Mendes - Australian Social Work


Young people transitioning from out-of-home care, commonly called care leavers, are known to be a vulnerable group. Many experience poor outcomes leading them to become homeless or involved in the criminal justice system. Yet compared to most other Anglophone democracies, Australia lacks mandatory assistance for care leavers beyond 18 years of age. There are also major legislative, policy, and program differences between care leaver entitlements in the individual states and territories. This paper argues that the Commonwealth Government should introduce a nationally consistent extended care system that would require all jurisdictions to provide a minimum standard of support until at least 21 years of age. A uniform set of extended care standards is even more vital in the context of COVID-19.


  • Many Australian care leavers have poor life chances despite recent advances in the support programs provided by the states and territories.

  • A nationally consistent extended care program is likely to progress improved opportunities and outcomes for care leavers.