Strengthening the Evidence Base to Improve Educational Outcomes for Australians in Out-of-Home Care

Andrew Harvey, Jacqueline Z. Wilson, Lisa Andrewartha - Education in Out-of-Home Care


Postsecondary education outcomes of Australian care leavers are not systematically documented. Complexities of a federal system of government, and the early conclusion of corporate parenting responsibilities (usually when those in care reach 18 years of age) have restricted the ability to track educational progress. Historically, a lack of national data on care leavers in higher education has contributed to policy inertia and a culture of low educational expectations and outcomes. Extending the quantitative evidence base is critical to improving these outcomes and developing targeted postsecondary education policies. In this chapter from the book Education in Out-of-Home Care we highlight ongoing legislative and policy challenges, but also explore recent policy reforms developed following three collaborative research projects. Major challenges remain to extend corporate parenting responsibilities, recast the national student equity framework, revise tertiary application processes, redesign institutional enrolment forms, and use fee waiver and bursary provisions to identify and track postsecondary care leaver students. However, we also outline recent progress in many of these areas, suggesting growing support for a stronger evidence base and better educational outcomes.