As Victorians, we aspire for our children to live happy, healthy, and rewarding lives. For many, this means the opportunity to go onto further and higher education as a pathway to life-long learning, friendships, rewarding employment and fulfilling careers.
However, this is currently not the case for far too many young people who live or have lived in out of home care. Young people in care experience significant social and economic barriers in accessing post-secondary education and lack the support they need – financial, personal and academic – to successfully complete their studies.
Raising Expectations – a collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, La Trobe University, Federation University Australia and Swinburne University of Technology – is changing this.
This nationally awarded, evidence-based program, funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training, is transforming the life trajectory of care leavers through education. It has seen the number of students enrolled in 2020 increase over 800% in five years, with many others having completed their study.
Key to the model’s success is increasing multi-sector and multi-workforce capacity, capability, awareness, and knowledge to better support young people in out of home care and care leavers go on to further study. Our partner universities provide practical wrap around support to enable student access and success.
In Victoria, we welcome the policy change to extend support for young people in care to 21. For the first time, young people in care can think about TAFE or Uni as a real option as the next step in their education journey.
Equitable access to TAFE and University must the norm for all young people in care, not just a few. It requires increasing support across Victoria and nationally so that young people with a care experience can reach their educational ambitions.
Speaking about Raising Expectations on Care Day 2021, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare Deb Tsorbaris said, “It is not enough to have exceptions – young people deserve much more than that. More must be done to support every child and young person in care to reach their dreams and be supported to aspire, access, and achieve in TAFE and Uni.”
Sarah Morris, a young person who grew up in and then worked in out-of-home care before being supported by Raising Expectations to study at university said, “I know from my personal experience that the system can tear you down and makes you believe you can’t do things, puts this label on your head that you’re just a ‘resi kid’. But the fact is, you’re not. You’re anything you want to be and anything you want to become. Believing in yourself and knowing you can succeed at TAFE or uni is huge.”