Indigenous youth transitioning from out-of-home care in Australia: a study of key challenges and effective practice responses

Philip Mendes, Rachel Standfield, Bernadette Saunders, Samone McCurdy, Jacinta Walsh, Lena Turnbull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to report on the findings of a qualitative study that explored the views of 53 service providers assisting Indigenous young people (known in Australia as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth) transitioning from out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative approach was adopted involving semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 53 representatives of state and territory government departments, non-government organisation service providers and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (ACCOs) across Australia. The project was designed to gain the perspectives of those working within the system and their views on how it interacts with Indigenous care leavers. Interview questions aimed to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the leaving care support systems available to this cohort, as well as the key challenges facing service providers in supporting them. Finally, the study aimed to make recommendations for policy development in this area and identify potential best practice service responses. Findings: The study found that the OOHC service systems continue to fail Indigenous care leavers, their families and communities. Study findings revealed that Indigenous care-leavers face substantial challenges and that the support systems for those leaving OOHC are often culturally insensitive and ineffective. Many Indigenous OOHC leavers lacked the supports they needed to develop safe and ongoing relationships with their traditional Country, family and communities. To promote more positive transitions and outcomes, effective practice responses were identified, including culturally safe programmes and proportional funding for ACCOs to advance greater self-determination. Originality/value: This research is the first national study in Australia to examine the specific transition from care pathways and experiences of Indigenous young people. The findings add to the limited existing knowledge on Indigenous care leavers globally and should inform practice and policy innovations with this cohort in Australia and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-32
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Children's Services
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2022


  • Aboriginal community controlled organisations
  • Culturally appropriate systems
  • Indigenous
  • Out-of-home care
  • Racialised systemic bias
  • Transitions from care

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