This study examines the findings of the recent Community Affairs Reference Committee report into institutional and out-of-home care. Attention is drawn to the key role played by the Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) in pushing the concerns of older care leavers onto the public agenda, successfully lobbying for the Senate Inquiry, and providing services and supports to care leavers.
The report highlighted the historical failure of state authorities to protect the well-being of children and young people placed in alternative care. Many of those children have subsequently experienced significant emotional and psychological problems, the results of which include psychiatric illness, depression, suicide, substance abuse, illiteracy, impaired relationship skills and marriage breakdown, and incarceration.
The report also has contemporary implications. In order to achieve better outcomes for care leavers in the future, we need to ensure that child welfare services are adequately funded, employ properly trained and qualified professional staff, promote a gradual and functional transition from dependence to independence, and ensure accountability to external bodies including consumer groups.