New research from Anglicare shows highly vulnerable young Tasmanians are missing out on life-changing care – and sets out a plan to prioritise their needs.

Dr Catherine Robinson at the launch of the research “Our research focused on children and young people aged 10-17 who have experienced significant harm – including multiple forms of violence – during childhood and adolescence,” said Dr Catherine Robinson, a researcher at Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre (SARC).

The research specifically focused on young people who do not enter the out of home care system and who instead face an ongoing struggle to independently access support and safe accommodation during adolescence.

The research found systemic failure in addressing the needs for care of these highly vulnerable young Tasmanians.

“During the crucial years of their development, these children have had persistent exposure to physical and emotional harm, and face extreme adversity during adolescence, including homelessness and difficulty accessing mental health support and education,” said Dr Robinson. “Distressingly, we found that many young people end up labelled ‘too hard’ and miss out on even the most basic forms of care”.

Anglicare said that intensive, long-term, relationship-based care would make a significant difference for highly vulnerable young Tasmanians – but there was currently a dire shortage of this kind of therapeutic support.

“What we found was a fragmented system of referral between short-term interventions and a lack of specialist adolescent services,” said Dr Robinson.

“Supportive, ongoing, relationship-based care is vital to ensure the safety of young Tasmanians, help them recover from trauma, and develop positive mental health and well-being,” she said.

The new research highlights that the Child Safety Service in Tasmania is not equipped to respond to these highly vulnerable young people. In particular, few appropriate out-of-home care options and a lack of capacity for ongoing support outside of out-of-home care are seen as key issues. The result is that responsibility for complex teens is being transferred to at-capacity NGOs.

An urgent need was also identified for more investment in specialised medium and long-term supported housing options for young people in Tasmania. “Again, this needs to be trauma-informed, therapeutic care which can support young people towards independence or to return home where this safe,” said Dr Robinson.

Anglicare called for existing adolescent services in Tasmania to be expanded to include greater investment in trauma-specific mental health services, residential drug detox and rehabilitation, and alternative education options.

“Clear funding commitments are needed for each of these vital services to genuinely meet the need that is there,” said Dr Robinson. “We cannot continue to fail these highly vulnerable young people. We can design and fund support services in a way that shows we refuse to label any young Tasmanian as ‘too hard’ and that we care deeply about their well-being and futures”.

“All young people have a right to safety, shelter, care and education,” said Dr Robinson. “These are basic building blocks of childhood. It’s time to provide highly vulnerable young people with the care they need, so that they can imagine a positive future like other young Tasmanians”.

You can read or download the report Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania from the SARC website: here

PLEASE NOTE: The research contains graphic descriptions of family violence and other confronting material. If you find this distressing and want someone to talk to, please call Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 RESPECT; Lifeline 13 11 14.
Bronwen Hayes, Media Liaison and Communications Manager