Centacare has partnered with community housing provider Housing Choices Australia and Aboriginal Sobriety Group on an innovative new project to prevent young people falling into homelessness after exiting out-of-home care.

Funded by the Department for Child Protection, the $2.7 million Next Steps pilot will provide young adults aged between 17 to 21 years on long-term guardianship orders with a direct pathway into low cost accommodation across metropolitan Adelaide.

A multidisciplinary trauma-informed care team will support participants to maintain tenancy and address complex challenges in their lives as they transition to independence.

Research shows young people leaving out-of-home care are at increased risk of homelessness, substance misuse and contact with the criminal justice system, and are more likely to have poorer health, education and employment outcomes.

Understanding participants’ child protection history and the ongoing impact of underlying trauma is a key focus of Next Steps. The model focuses on the foundation of trauma responsive practice and is underpinned by a therapeutic framework designed and implemented by child and adolescent psychiatrist and specialist therapist, Dr Jackie Amos. 

Participants will receive 1:1 therapeutic support to strengthen identity, agency and build life skills.

“Young people leaving residential care face many barriers as they transition into adulthood without family support,’’ said Megan Welsh, Executive Manager – Domestic Violence and Youth Homelessness Services.

“They may have high and complex needs that impact their capacity to live independently and impede their ability to enter and sustain their own tenancy.

“We don’t want to see them cycling in and out of homelessness – we want to see them settled in community and engaged in employment or education with a strong sense of place and belonging.’’

In the first two years, Next Steps will initially settle up to 20 young people in city HCA housing, with on-site access to medical, dental and mental health services.

“As a social housing provider with a long history of working with young people, we are excited to be a part of this collaborative model that digs deeper to build independence and life goals,’’ said Julie Duncan, General Manager, South Australia, HCA.

Centacare will provide wraparound support through therapeutic case workers, a financial counsellor, clinical nurse, and youth workers. Linked into this team will be a dedicated youth tenancy officer based at HCA.

An educator from Centacare’s Registered Training Organisation will support each young person to identify language, literacy and numeracy needs and offer pathways into foundation skills, where required.

“The model recognises that for many young people leaving care, early relationship templates can remain an unhelpful influence in their transition to adulthood, and many young people’s journey through the care system may not provide opportunities to address these influences therapeutically,’’ Megan said.

“Centacare believes that integrating therapeutic principles will provide the best opportunity for young people to overcome these challenges and maximise their potential.’’

ASG, through its expertise as an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, will provide cultural support and consultancy, and a much-needed lens and way of practice when working with young Aboriginal people.

“Cultural connection and support for many young Aboriginal people exiting care is vital. Working with our community networks, we are looking forward to helping create a sense of cultural belonging for those young people that seek it,’’ said Susie Andricic, CEO, Aboriginal Sobriety Group.