Young people transitioning out of care and into the community will be better supported into housing, education and employment with the expansion of the Next Step Plus program into the Far North.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI) had secured more than $1.2 million in Palaszczuk Government funding to provide support for Queenslanders aged between 15 and 25.
“Transitioning into adulthood is a big event for any young person, but even more so for those who have already faced significant challenges in life,” Mr Healy said.
“Next Step Plus is about helping our young people leaving care to build the skills, knowledge and connections they need to live an independent life.
“As well as navigating government and non-government services, the program offers practical help with managing money, finding accommodation and writing a resumé.
“YETI has years of local experience working with our young people in Far North Queensland.”
CEO of YETI Genevieve Sinclair said Next Step Plus in the Far North region was a collaboration between YETI and community-based organisation Wuchopperen Health Service.
“Next Step Plus is especially important for our region,” she said.
“The program works with young people to ensure they have a connection or reconnection to family, community, culture, or country.
“We are excited to be creating tangible outcomes for young people leaving care by linking them to housing and accommodation services, living skills supports and entering employment and training.”
CREATE Foundation is the national body representing the voices of children and young people with an out-of-home care experience.
“CREATE is pleased to hear of improvements that provide additional support for young people transitioning from care to independence,” CEO Jacqui Reed said.
“In particular ensuring a focus on involving young people in the planning process thus increasing their confidence and improving outcomes.”
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said YETI was one of six organisations chosen to deliver the Next Step Plus support across Queensland.
“There are more than 500 young people in care each year who turn 18, and that’s why it is so important we have the support systems in place to help them,” Ms Farmer said.
“Young Queenslanders leaving the family home traditionally have the support of parents and relatives to prepare them for the world.
“They’re not told to pack their bags and hit the highway on their 18th birthday, and neither should young people in care.
“The Next Step Plus program gives these young people the assurance of support, knowing that somebody will walk alongside them as they transition into the community.”
The Palaszczuk Government amended the Child Protection Act to ensure planning for a young person’s transition from care to independence starts at age 15 with support until they turn 25.