In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000


Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call

131126

Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700

healthdirect

24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500


Transitioning to adulthood

In this section: Learn about the importance of transition planning and how you can help prepare the child in your care move to adulthood and independent living.

Transition planning

Transitioning from care to adulthood is a very important time in the child’s life. At this time, they are already experiencing significant change and may be confused by the physical, social and emotional changes adolescence brings. This may also be a tricky time, as they may not yet know who they are and are often trying to work out their place in the world.

When a child in care turns 18 years old, their Care and Protection Order stops and they ‘transition’ from being in care. At this time, the child’s care ‘placement’ technically ends. It is understood such conversations about transitioning can be confronting and cause worry for all involved. Everyone’s situation is different and transitioning does not necessarily mean your relationship with the child ends or their living arrangements change.

Effort is placed on working together and specific planning will be undertaken involving the child, you, your case manager and Care Team, as well as relevant support services.

The Children and Young People Act 2008, requires this planning to begin once the child turns 15 years old. At this time, their Case Plan becomes known as their Transition Plan with the primary goal to successfully transition the child to adulthood and eventually independence. Planning will identify all the anticipated supports and assistance the child will need from the age of 15 to 25 years, and will be reviewed annually to ensure it remains relevant. As their carer, you have an important role in helping the child consider their options and once decided, support them to work towards these. One of the biggest decisions for the child is working out where they will live.

The majority of children remain living with their carers. This may be because they are still finishing school, plan to do more study or simply because they have a close relationship. If the child remains living with you, and they are aged 18 to 20 years old (inclusive), you may be able eligible to apply for the Extended Continuum of Care subsidy. If this matches your situation, please speak with your case manager.

The actual process of transitioning starts at different times for different children – for the child in your care it will depend on their specific circumstances. The timing for transition, and possible aftercare support, is discussed as part of the planning and annual review processes. When the process does begin it will include assisting the child to:

  • locate stable living arrangements, which can include remaining with you until they are ready to move out
  • access education and financial security
  • receive practical assistance, such as packing
  • compile important documents, like their birth certificate and passport (if required)
  • learn life skills, such as cooking and budgeting.

For children moving to independent living, financial assistance in meeting some of the initial set-up costs may also be provided. These costs include a one-off purchase of basic items. The child may also be eligible for the Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) through the Australian Government. This is a one-off support payment up to $1500 intended to meet some transition costs. Your case manager will discuss these as part of the transition planning and process. More information is also available from the TILA websiteExternal Link

During the transition phase, your case manager will regularly monitor and review the child’s Transition Plan to ensure it is working, objectives are being met and if changes are needed that these are being made. You should also encourage the child to share how they feel their transition is going and if they need help to resolve any issues. It is possible for you to continue to receive certain carer financial support. Please speak with your case manager about your circumstances and what may be available to you.

When the time comes for the child in your care to start transition planning, they may be eager and excited to plan for reaching adulthood. But, they may instead be uncertain, anxious or feel they will be left alone and unsupported. It is important you help them to express their feelings so transition planning can put things in place to help build their confidence and address their concerns.

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Your role in preparing a child

As the child’s carer, you are always helping them prepare for new tasks and learn new things – this in itself is helping them to prepare for adulthood and to become independent. Helping the child get ready for independent life can start when they are young, you don’t have to wait for their transition to be close by.

There are a lot of things you can do. Some of the key activities that will really help the child transition to become an independent, happy adult include:

  • Teach them essential life skills like healthy cooking, putting on a load of washing, cleaning and grocery shopping on a budget.
  • Get the child to think about what kind of work they would like to do when they finish school. Talk about what they like and what you think they are good at. Help them think about the right subject choices, qualifications and other skills that would help them with their aspirations.
  • Help the child to get a paid, casual job, whether it be at the local supermarket or cafĂ©. A job is a good way to build confidence, skills, budgeting and responsibility. You may need to help them with developing a resume or transport.
  • Teach them how to catch public transport.
  • Help them learn to drive and to get their licence. You can get financial assistance for driving lessons.
  • Help the child take responsibility for their important belongings and documents. Talk about what these are, why they are important and how they are needed in adult life. Include documents like their birth certificate.
  • Connect the child with Centrelink regarding financial supports available to them.

The Go Your Own Way info kit from CREATE is a great resource that can help you and the child in your care. Designed specifically for children transitioning to adulthood it provides a workbook and checklist of information the child needs to know when they leave care. It will help them think about the different parts of their life that will support them to be successfully independent. The child can work through the book on their own, but it is a great activity to do together and a way to show them your support. They can also bring it to transition planning meetings as a reminder of things they want to discuss and include in their Transition Plan. You can access the Go Your Own Way info kit from CREATE’s websiteExternal Link

This is a good time to talk with your Care Team about the community services available to help with transition to adulthood, for example, working towards independent living, exploring housing options including transitional accommodation and aftercare support.

Transition can be an emotional time for everyone involved. You may feel excited for the child as they start this next chapter in their life. You may be sad if the child chooses to leave your home. You may even feel a sense of relief. Speaking to a counsellor at this time can help you with your own thoughts and feelings. It may also be beneficial for the child you are caring for to see a counsellor at this time.

Children in care deserve the same opportunities as other children. When they leave care they should still get the support they need, whether it is having a safe place to live, continuing their education, finding work, or having someone they can talk to and rely on. Transition to independence is a critical milestone in their life and one they should be supported to succeed in.

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Aftercare support

The Transition Plan put in place for the child before they leave care will have anticipated most of the information and help they need to transition to independence. However, as new situations emerge and circumstances change, additional assistance may be necessary.

ACT Together provide a range of aftercare services, including short-term assistance with:

  • guidance
  • information
  • referrals to other services.

In some circumstances, more intensive, longer-term assistance may be needed. This support can include:

  • case work coordination
  • planning and oversight of therapeutic responses and counselling
  • support accessing, reading and processing care records
  • life story work
  • practical supports, such as assistance with housing applications
  • mediation with families and/or carers
  • financial supports and funding of services for young adults (up to 21 years) with high and complex needs (dependent on assessment).

For aftercare services contact ACT Together:

  • P: 6110 2200

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