The Housing Pathways and Experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth as They Transition from out of Home Care in Victoria and Western Australia

Jasmin Jau, Philip Mendes, Jacinta Chavulak, Robyn Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


It is well established that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are over-represented in Australian child protection and out-of-home care systems. Despite this, there has been limited analysis of their exit from care pathways. This study, based on interviews with 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth from Victoria and Western Australia (who were a sub-set of a larger study of 34 care leavers), examined their transition experiences and outcomes in relation to accessing stable and affordable housing. While all care leavers spoke of poor or non-existent transition planning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants were more likely to report incidences of homelessness and more complex experiences in a range of areas. Importantly, the group identified a need for culturally appropriate service models which built on and enhanced cultural and kinship connections.

This project focused on the experiences of leaving care and its intersections with housing and homelessness trajectories. It did not specifically focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care leavers or agencies; however given the disproportionate rates of Aboriginal children and young people in care (AIHW 2021b), we anticipated some involvement in the study. As non-indigenous researchers, we acknowledge that our social cultural, and professional locations and associated privilege limit our understanding, of and capacity to represent, the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. We recognise that out locations most likely restricted the fullness of participants’ responses, yet our research identified that the 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care leavers had fundamentally different and more challenging experiences than non-indigenous participants. Our motivation in writing this paper is to contribute to the body of indigenous knowledge on leaving care. We share our findings with the intention of endorsing and advancing the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates who have called for reform of the out-of-home-care system for many years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319–336
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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