Leaving care

It’s really important to know that you have rights when you leave out-of-home care. You can also get support and help to make sure you can live safely and independently. 

If you are in out-of-home care (or foster care) and you have any questions about your rights or leaving care, please contact us for free and confidential advice here. 

Update: From 1 February 2023 you or your carer may be eligible to apply for additional support if you are turning 18 or you are aged 18-20 years old. This includes a ‘staying on’ allowance, to support young people to stay with their carers once they turn 18. There is also an ‘independent living’ allowance for young people living independently after they turn 18. To be eligible for either allowance, you must have lived in out of home care for at least 12 months before you turned 18. For more information, you can visit the Department of Communities and Justice website here or contact us here.   

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Leaving care

Young people usually leave care when their care order has ended. This may be because they have turned 18, or because their care has been transferred from the Department of Communities and Justice to someone else, such as a relative. 

A “care order” is an order made by a court which says that the Department of Communities and Justice have parental responsibility for you. This means that they need to decide where you will live, and you may live with a foster carer. 

When your care order expires, you don’t have to move out of where you are currently living if your carer is happy for you to stay there. However, it’s important that you know what your rights are! 

It’s also important to know that there are different kinds of care. A young person might be looked after by a relative or a carer, but there might not be a formal care order for that young person. This page has information about the rights of children under a formal care order. We know it can be confusing! If you are a young person in care, and you aren’t sure about your rights, please contact us here 

Leaving care plans

When you turn 15, you, your caseworker, carer and family will start thinking about your future after you have left care. You should have a meeting and develop a plan which is called a Leaving Care Plan.  

This plan includes ways that you will be supported through any issues you might experience after leaving care. When you leave care, you may need help with finding a place to live, finding a job, and other things so you can live independently. Your plan must be finished before you leave care and stays in place until you are 25 years old, but it can change depending on your situation and needs. 

Your plan should be tailored to your personal situation, needs and goals to make sure that you feel safe and supported when you leave care. It might include some or all of these things:

  • connection with family, community and culture;  
  • health and wellbeing, including counselling;  
  • education;  
  • training and employment;  
  • living skills (for example cooking or budgeting);  
  • support and advice with any legal issues;  
  • finances; and  
  • accommodation.   

What happens when I leave out-of-home care?

Just because you have left out-of-home care doesn’t mean that you are on your own. The law says that you must be given help after you leave care, until you are 25. This is sometimes called ‘aftercare assistance’ and is usually set out in your leaving care plan. 

When deciding what sort of help you need, the Department should think about your safety, welfare, and wellbeing, and your individual needs. This might include:

  • Being given information about resources and services 
  • Financial assistance, including regular allowances and one-off payments
  • Help with finding and setting up somewhere to live 
  • Help with organising education and training and finding a job 
  • Help with getting legal advice and accessing health services 
  • Counselling and support  

To be eligible for a leaving care plan, you must:

  • Leave out-of-home care when you are 15 years or older; and 
  • Have been in the care of the Department of Communities and Justice immediately before leaving care; and 
  • Have been in care for at least 12 months in total; and 
  • Have not left this care as a result of adoption or a guardianship order; and 
  • Are under the age of 25 years of age (although, in some cases, assistance can be given to people who are 25 years old and older).  

One type of support is the Transition to Independent Living Allowance. Young people between 15 and 25 who leave out-of-home care and are transitioning to independent living may be eligible for this one off payment of up to $1500 for living expenses such as furniture, appliances, counselling, medical expenses or education. There are some requirements for accessing this payment, which you can read more about here: Transition to Independent Living Allowance | Department of Social Services, Australian Government  

There are many types of assistance that you can claim if you have left care. If you are unsure about these or you don’t think you have a leaving care plan, or you’re not sure how to access it, we encourage you to speak with your caseworker, or contact us for advice. 

Victims’ Compensation

Many children and young people in OOHC have been victims of a violent crime prior to their entry into care. This might include family violence, child abuse or sexual abuse. 

If you have been harmed by a crime, you could be eligible for victim’s compensation. You can read more about the Victims Support Scheme here. You can also contact us if you would like some advice about this.

Can I access my care records?

 If you lived in out-of-home care as a child or young person, you can request a copy of your care records by filling out this form. 

You can email the form to [email protected]. 

You can find more information about accessing your records here. 

If you need help completing this form, you can contact us here 

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