The care needed

Berry Street Gippsland has welcomed the government’s latest initiative to support children in out-of-home care.

Berry Street Gippsland director Trish McCluskey said the State Government-funded LOOKOUT education support centres, announced on 22 September, would assist the state’s most vulnerable children to stay in education.

While the exact location of the eastern Victoria location is yet to be decided, Ms McCluskey said the proposed centre would benefit the Gippsland community.

“We continue in Gippsland to have the highest rates of children and young people coming into out-of-home care in the state,” Ms McCluskey said.

“The development of LOOKOUT would provide one more safeguard in ensuring that children and young people in out of home care in Gippsland can realise their potential and will be an important complement to education service system. “

As part of the government’s initiative, the centres would support students through a team of campus staff, psychologists and social workers.

Ms McCluskey said the program would complement Gippsland’s other educational interventions such as Blackwood Annex and alternative options such as FLO and the Berry Street School.

“This an important step in the development of the education service system and the first in at least a decade with a focus on the most marginalised children and young people in the state,” Ms McCluskey said.

“One of the key elements in changing the trajectories of those children’s lives and those of future generations of Gippsland children is an investment in their education. LOOKOUT is a welcome addition to that aspiration.”

Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said the centres would work with schools and carers to advocate and protect the rights of young people in out-of-home care.

“This initiative will help bridge gaps in our education and care systems that have previously contributed to vulnerable young people being denied access to a consistent, high quality education,” Ms Mikakos said.

The centres will be placed in each of the state’s four regions throughout 2016 and 2017.