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An AnglicareSA accommodation and support pilot program for young people leaving care has won the ’Transition to Independence’ category at the inaugural South Australian Child Protection Awards.

The 12-month pilot program, based at community housing apartments in Adelaide’s inner south-west, assists young care leavers with reduced rent and supports them to maintain education and employment, while establishing independent living skills.

The service helps the young tenants with a range of life skills such as household budgeting, getting a driver’s licence, engaging in wellbeing programs and local community initiatives, and enrolling to vote.

Supporting them to navigate relationships and, where appropriate, safely reconnect with family, is also a major focus.

Since the program’s commencement in March this year, 17 young people have moved into the self-contained one-bedroom apartments.

The AnglicareSA team with young people from the program at the 2021 Child Protection Awards ceremony.

Nancy Penna, AnglicareSA Executive General Manager Community Services, said that of these young people, eight are in continuing education, six are in employment and three are job seeking. One employed young person has already transitioned into a private rental home.

Ms Penna said the pilot program is helping to tackle the significant unmet need in housing and outreach support services for young care leavers between the ages of 18 and 25 in South Australia.

“Without the same family support networks as many young people, care leavers are more vulnerable to ending up in crisis in their transition to adulthood,’’ she said.

“Australian and international research shows that care leavers continue to experience similar and consistent challenges into adulthood; namely overrepresentation in homelessness, lower educational attainment, chronic poverty, unemployment and becoming parents at a younger age.

“Current national data shows that 64 per cent of care leavers will experience homelessness within two years of exiting the care system. More than 42 per cent of adults within the homelessness system have been in state care.

“Safe and secure housing options with wrap-around support are a must-have for young people leaving state care.

“Tailored support delivered in a stable home environment enables young people to establish themselves as they learn independence, attain further education, secure employment and move on to long-term housing with improved health and wellbeing.

“This Post Care Pathways housing program is a vital first step. Funding and support from government and other stakeholders in the child protection sector will enable us to drive long-term change and expand this innovative youth accommodation pilot.

Ultimately, we want to empower young people leaving care to overcome challenges and achieve their life goals and aspirations.”