Together Yooralla and Anglicare Victoria are improving the lives of children and young people with a disability.
In recognition of the service gap that exists for Victorian children and young people in out-of-home care who are living with disability, Victoria’s most established and recognised disability service provider Yooralla, has made addressing this gap a key priority in their 2021-24 Strategic Plan.
Access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can be inadequate or non-existent for children and young people in out-of-home care with disability, especially because many may have missed a formal diagnosis of their disability.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission found that in June 2011, 14% of the over 4000 children in out-of-home-care in Victoria had a disability. This is more than double the prevalence of children with disability in the total Australian population (6.8%). Data from Anglicare Victoria’s 2016 Children in Care Report Card showed that there continues to be a disproportionately high number of children and young people with disabilities in care (19%) when contrasted with the much lower rates in the general community (8.3%).
It is widely recognised that as a group, children and young people in out-of-home-care experience poorer development outcomes, compared to other children and young people in the community. They can have a complex range of behaviours related to past trauma, with 35% who may suffer from poor mental health
. And, sadly, the prevalence of thinking about suicide is much higher than in the general population.
Evidence shows that the experiences and quality of care received in out-of-home care can be critical to determining whether a child or young person can recover from the effects of trauma and can enjoy more opportunities in life. Traumatic experiences from birth can also lead to disability.
Yooralla is collaborating with Anglicare Victoria (AV) to develop a systems-wide approach towards improving outcomes for children and young people with disability living in out-of-home care. Anglicare is one of Australia’s most innovative agencies working with vulnerable children, youth and families and is one of Victoria’s largest out-of-home care providers.
This collaboration brings the knowledge and experience of Yooralla working with the disability community, together with Anglicare Victoria’s extensive work with children and young people in out-of-home-care.
“Anglicare Victoria is excited to partner with Yooralla on this very important project,” said AV Chief Executive, Paul McDonald.
“All young people deserve the opportunity to live their best life. This partnership will help to improve the lives of our most vulnerable, children and young people, who live in out-of-home-care, and who have disabilities need extra attention and support to give them the same chances as other young people in our community.” he added.
With its team of specialist disability workers, which include psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists and support coordinators, Yooralla has the capabilities to work collaboratively with partners like AV to fill the gap on knowledge and offer expertise in disability.
Yooralla is developing an integrated approach with partners on accessible, appropriate care that meets the unique needs and challenges experienced by vulnerable children and young people with disability.
Children and young people who live in out-of-home care with disability are a particularly vulnerable group. Their physical and mental health are worse compared to their peers who are not in care. They suffer from developmental delays that affect their performance at school and that can lead to intellectual and learning disorders. Many have behaviour issues and young people leaving care are often not prepared well in advance to transition successfully into independence as an adult after being in care. Unless given support, their long-term future is likely to involve unemployment, homelessness and the criminal justice system.
Early identification of disability and associated support needs can greatly reduce the risk of a child and young person from experiencing adverse outcomes in later life . Disability assessments can provide critical understanding of an individual’s support needs and elicit insights on overcoming barriers to participating in the community. Culturally safe and appropriate assessments by those with experience and expertise in disability can result in specifically tailored disability support based on needs, rather than impairment, and can be designed with the input of the child or young person, so they can achieve their goals.
Yooralla Chief Executive Terry Symonds said, “Recognising intellectual and development delays and being able to present a strong case for support can open crucial access to the NDIS so that funded support can be made available to the child or young person and their relatives or foster carers who look after them.”
Yooralla is seeking philanthropic partners who can contribute to funds that can help increase its capacity to partner with other agencies so that it can help more to benefit from its expertise and capabilities in disability.
Donations and gifts enable Yooralla to directly help children and young people in out-of-home care who have a disability with urgent, immediate and practical supports that can be so pivotal in giving them a best chance in life.
These organisations are supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.