Berry Street Gippsland has welcomed State Government funding for a leaving care hotline, saying it will assist many young people in the region who are moving from in-home care.
The government announced $69,000 funding on Thursday for the Leaving Care Hotline, a telephone information and referral service aimed at helping ease the transition for Victoria’s young adults moving from out-of-home care.
“This service is vitally needed,” Berry Street regional director Trish McClusky said.
“(We) believe that many young people in Gippsland who leave care are particularly vulnerable without… support, caring adults, affordable housing and access to education.”
The ‘Young people in out-of-home care in rural and regional Victoria’ discussion paper showed Gippsland has the highest number of children in child protection in Victoria with 61 in every 1000 of the region’s children in some form of child protection, more than three times the figure of its metropolitan counterparts.
Each year, 400 children across the state turn 18 and transition from out-of-home-care into independent living.
“Without family support, young people leaving care at 18 or younger often face many additional hurdles such as needing guarantors when accessing private rentals, someone to help them in learning to drive and, importantly, emotional support in bridging adolescence to adulthood,” Ms McClusky said. “The Leaving Care Helpline will provide young care leavers with consistent advice, referrals and the information they urgently need to assist them to take their place in the community.”
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said the hotline was an important form of support for these young adults during a time of vulnerability.
“This service gives young people the tools they need to transition to independent living and make a positive start,” Ms Mikakos said.
“The hotline addresses the needs of young people leaving out-of-home care by giving them practical advice and key connections.”
The hotline operates from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Anyone wanting to find out about leaving care support services should phone the Leaving Care Hotline on 1300 532 846.