Brittany is a young woman whose commitment to supporting young people leaving care struck us from the moment we met her.
As part of our inaugural Young Thinker in Residence program, Brittany has spent the past months researching and developing a piece of advocacy to address this issue. She has been reviewing current literature as well as running sessions with local youth services to hear the views and concerns of young care leavers, particularly when it comes to housing and support.
“I myself am a young care leaver and I have a passion for advocating for the issues that young care leavers face. When I first started “thinking” on the topic, I thought about my own experience and about what supports would have helped me transition to independence.”
Brittany has written an outstanding research report, Young Care Leavers: The Need for Peer Support. It delves into the current leaving care system in Victoria and examines the types of support programs available for young people leaving care, in Australia and around the world. Brittany’s extensive research highlights the value of peer-to-peer relationships and presents a compelling case for the need for more peer support programs in our community.
“Would peer support assist a young care leaver transitioning from out-of-home care? And would a peer support approach improve the long term outcomes for young care leavers? From these questions, an idea was born! And my research only confirmed it.”
Brittany has also produced a project snapshot of her findings as a tangible guide for support services to more effectively work with young care leavers. It outlines the situation faced by young people leaving care and presents her case for peer support models as the solution, offering support services loads of practical strategies, co-designed with young care leavers themselves.
Brittany’s research is a big step towards filling the gap in our understanding of such a pressing social issue facing young Victorians. Her findings offer valuable insights into the realities of young care leavers and will live to serve many youth services organisations in the work they do everyday to support young people.
Download Brittany's full report here.
We encourage you to promote and circulate these findings among your networks and help affect positive change for young people with an out-of-home care experience.
What’s next for this Young Thinker?
Brittany is currently finishing her Bachelor of Community Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs while also volunteering part-time at a 4Cs crisis relief centre. She is interested in working in community and youth work, with a goal to complete a master’s degree in social work. Through her own personal experience and knowledge of out-of-home care, Brittany hopes to raise awareness for the issues young care leavers face to advocate for better outcomes for young people in out-of-home care and those leaving care.
“This program has increased my knowledge of research and the youth sector tremendously, as well as provided me with opportunities to further my professional development and the confidence to pursue my goals.”