Using past practice to inform current policy n wallace care leavers australia network
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Using Past Practice to Inform Current Policy N. Wallace– Care Leavers Australia Network . Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN). Support Advocacy Research Training. CLAN has close to 1000 members

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Using past practice to inform current policy n wallace care leavers australia network
Using Past Practice to Inform Current PolicyN. Wallace– Care Leavers Australia Network

Care leavers australia network clan
Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN)

  • Support

  • Advocacy

  • Research

  • Training

  • CLAN has close to 1000 members

  • CLAN was founded in 2000 by two Care Leavers Dr Joanna Penglase OAM and Leonie Sheedy OAM

  • CLAN’s oldest member is 94 years old.

  • CLAN’s youngest member is 19 years old.

Why is preparation to leave care needed
Why is preparation to leave care needed?

  • Childhood is the most pivotal stage of development:

    • Develop emotionally – attachment, bonding, trust

    • Learning – stages of development, schooling

    • Vulnerability - abuse

  • Trauma from the family unit being broken

  • Education might be disrupted

  • Lack of support

  • Trouble with relationships

Clan research
CLAN Research

  • 2008 Survey “A Terrible way to grow up: The experiences of institutional care and it’s outcomes for care leavers in Australia”

Clan research1
CLAN research

  • 2010 Survey “Struggling to keep it together”

  • Thank you to Frank Golding and Benita Rupan for collating these results and publishing the report

Struggling to keep it together
Struggling to keep it together


  • 67 questions:

    • Tick box

    • Invitation to make additional comments

  • Encouraged to seek support from CLAN’s counsellor

  • No fixed deadline

    • Prompt response: 80 responses in 1 day

    • 577 responses in total

Struggling to keep it together1
Struggling to keep it together


  • 56% Females

  • 85% > 50yrs of age

  • 37% are married or de-facto

  • 80% reside in NSW, VIC, or QLD

Leaving care statistics
Leaving Care Statistics

16yrs of age was the most common age to leave care

Leaving care statistics1

Leaving care statistics


When you finally left care to return to the wider community which of the following happened
When you finally left ‘care’ to return to the wider community, which of the following happened?

  • 21% returned to their parents

  • A combined 22% spent the first night after leaving care alone, on the streets, or with strangers

  • 8% continued schooling

  • 9% had a job to go to





Education community,

  • Schooling was ignored and not properly attended to

  • School disrupted from moving from one placement to the next

  • Disadvantages from lack of education:

    • Literacy

    • Career opportunities

    • Socio-economic status

  • Recommendations for the current Child Protection System

    • Continual stability of education

    • Emotionally stable environments to focus on schooling

Avenues after leaving care
Avenues after leaving care community,

  • Children were carelessly discharged from care:

    • Alone

    • On the streets

    • With strangers

      “No clothes, no money no assistance”

  • Others were sent back to abusive or neglectful parents

    “I went back to the same alcoholic parents that I was taken from – nothing had changed”

    “I was returned to my abusive mother where her boyfriends attempted to molest me”

Recommendations for the current child protection system
Recommendations for the current child protection system community,

  • Consider child’s wishes

  • Life skills training

  • Job training

  • Transition to leave care

  • Ongoing support after leaving care

Why life skills
Why life skills? community,

  • Things that parents teach that children in care miss out on:

    • Forming attachments

    • Developing relationships

    • Trusting others

    • Giving and receiving love

Intergenerational effects
Intergenerational effects community,

17% of respondents stated that their parents or grandparents were in the care system.

13% have had their own children or grandchildren placed in care. The following graph shows the break up of this 13%






Intergenerational effects1
Intergenerational Effects community,

  • 54 respondents commented that they chose not to have children

  • 12% reported they have difficulties forming and maintaining relationships.

  • Being in care is a risk factor for their children being in care.

  • Continual counselling to address trauma, trust and attachment issues

  • A childhood in care makes the child no less valuable

The legacy of leaving care unprepared
The legacy of leaving care unprepared community,

  • Social Inclusion Board (2010):

    • Multiple disadvantages: those who fall into at least 3 of 6 named categories

    • Entrenched disadvantage: Experiencing these 3 or more disadvantages for 2 years or more

  • The CLAN survey covered the 6 named disadvantages – the following are the results

Disadvantage 1
Disadvantage 1 community,

  • People who live in a household where no one is employed:

    • 59% of respondents reported that there was no person in paid employment in their household

    • 20% of these unemployed for longer than 2 years

Disadvantage 2
Disadvantage 2 community,

  • People in the bottom 30% of equivalent household disposable income who would not be able to raise $2000 within a week:

    • 53% said they could not raise $2000 in a week

Disadvantage 3
Disadvantage 3 community,

  • People who are able to get support in times of crisis from people living outside the household which may impact adversely on their ability to participate in the community:

    • Only 36% said they could get help from outside their household

Disadvantage 4
Disadvantage 4 community,

  • People whose self-assessed physical and mental health status as either fair, poor or very poor:

    • 60% reported their physical health as being fair, poor, or very poor.

    • 57% reported their mental health as being fair, poor, or very poor.

Disadvantage 5
Disadvantage 5 community,

  • People aged 20yrs or more who had not completed year 10 or higher at school:

    • 22% had no schooling beyond primary level

    • 52% did not complete year 10 at high school

Disadvantage 6
Disadvantage 6 community,

  • People who felt safe or unsafe at home alone after dark:

    • 19% of respondents felt unsafe or very unsafe at home after dark.

    • This is compared with 7% of the Australian population

Other disadvantages
Other Disadvantages community,

  • 14% never married

  • 52% now live alone

  • 54% no not own their place of residence

  • 12% of respondents have serious psychological problems stemming from their childhood in care

  • 15% have trouble trusting those in authority

  • A combined 10% have or have had a drug or alcohol problem

Conclusion community,

  • Care leavers suffer multiple disadvantages, social exclusion and isolation

  • Many of these disadvantages could have been avoided had they had proper preparation to leave care.

  • Current policy needs to be adapted to provide adequate preparation, support and assistance for children to successfully leave care

Using past practice to inform current policy n wallace care leavers australia network

Summary of Recommendations community,

  • Focus on Care Leavers who have recently left care and Care Leavers who have young children – Intergenerational effects needs to be seen as a risk factor

  • Comprehensive guide on Children’s Rights, phone numbers, support agencies, policies and procedures

  • Ongoing Counselling

  • Life Skills, Job Skills and Education