Care leavers

La Trobe would like to encourage young people who are in formal out-of-home care (e.g. foster care, residential care, kinship care, being a ward of the State), and those who have transitioned out of the system to attend La Trobe and to excel once they’re here. Our leading research, Recruiting and supporting care leavers in Australian higher education [PDF 1.44 MB] and Out of care into university: Raising higher education access and achievement of care leavers [PDF 1.27MB], informs La Trobe’s strategies and provides a strong basis for broader national reform.

Along with targeted programs such as our Care Leaver Bursary, our strong equity focus ensures many existing programs and services assist these students. We encourage our students who spent time in out-of-home care to get in touch with our Student Development Advisers for personalised advice and support to help you make the most out of your University experience.

The Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR; formerly know as The Access and Achievement Research Unit) hosted Reach for La Trobe on Friday, 23rd September at our Bendigo campus. The event provided young people in out-of-home care (kinship care, foster care, ward of the state etc.) with an experience of university life. Carers, case workers, teachers, service providers and support people attended the parallel sessions which provided information about entry pathways, and the services and support offered by the University.

Applying to La Trobe

Visit How to apply for information on applying to La Trobe. Advice for people who spent time in out-of-home care includes:

Financial Support

A variety of financial support mechanisms are in place to assist you from La Trobe and from other organisations:

  • In 2017, the Care Leaver Bursary is available to commencing undergraduate domestic students who spent time in formal out-of-home care.
  • The La Trobe Access Scholarship is offered to a number of students who can demonstrate financial hardship and/or educational disadvantage. The application process enables you to advise us that you spent time in formal out-of-home care.
  • The Student Equipment Bursary aims to provide a number of bursaries to domestic students who can demonstrate financial and educational disadvantage to enable them to purchase equipment for study purposes, such as a computer or course related equipment.
  • The Patterdale Bursaries aim to support students who are experiencing disadvantage and are studying at the Mildura or Albury-Wodonga campuses.
  • The Haven; Home, Safe Scholarship is awarded to a La Trobe University student who resides in social housing and is studying full time at the Bendigo or Mildura campus. The recipient receives $3,000 each year over three years.
  • There are many other scholarships (La Trobe specific and external opportunities) listed on our website. Don’t forget to have a look through what’s available, and advise where possible that you spent time in out-of-home care.
  • Some financial assistance is available related to specific areas of your study, including Work Help Employment Grants to assist during placements, and grants should you choose to undertake part of your study overseas.
  • There is a range of financial support information and services available to help support students experiencing financial difficulties.
  • The Fees & money page includes links to a variety of financial considerations, information, and support. We encourage you to explore this information if the financial impact of attending university is a concern to you.
  • The La Trobe Student Union offers a financial counselling service.
  • The Australian Government offers the Transition to Independent Living Allowance to eligible young people when they leave out-of-home care.

Accommodation Support

Did you know that there is accommodation available at most of our campuses to suit students of any age? Accommodation Services offers both Access and Merit scholarships. Be sure to select that you spent time in out-of-home care if applying for an Accommodation Services Access Scholarship.

In addition to providing accommodation, benefits to on-campus accommodation include:

  • Furniture, bills, utilities, and the internet are included, reducing additional expenditure.
  • Being on campus reduces travel expenditure.
  • Residential students at La Trobe tend to outperform non-residential students.
  • A range of academic support programs are provided including a textbook borrowing scheme and specialist tutors.
  • The students participate in a mentoring program, run by later year residents.
  • Student leaders host tailored health and wellbeing programs focusing on healthy relationships, mental health, personal responsibility, financial fitness and physical wellbeing.
  • Extensive orientation and transition programs are provided. These programs along with ongoing cultural, sports and social activities can help establish and maintain relationships with friends and support staff.

If you don’t want to live on-campus, we have information about off-campus accommodation options as well. This includes an off-campus accommodation database for students looking for share or rental accommodation close to campus.

The following organisations also offer supported accommodation to disadvantaged youth engaged in study and/or training:

  • Education First Youth Foyers: accommodate young people who can’t live at home. There are Education First Youth foyers at Broadmeadows, Glen Waverley and Shepparton. To be eligible, a young person needs to be aged between 16-24 and keen to get into and commit to staying in education and training.
  • Foyer Plus: Melbourne City Mission provides long term supported housing along with services for education, training, employment and intensive casework support to young people aged 16–25 (who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless) to help them reach independence.
  • Other Foyers: there are other education, training and support foyers in Victoria.

Academic and Personal Support

Explore the new students section for important tips for once you’ve enrolled. Make sure you attend orientation events to find out important information to assist you in your university life, and use the Connect Mentors to help you settle in.

We recommend our Student Development Advisers as an important contact point for students from an out-of-home care background. The Student Development Advisers can work with you to make an Individual Action Plan for your success at university. They can help you when you aren’t sure where to go or whom to ask for help. They will guide you to make use of all appropriate university support services and help you to develop critical skills that will support you throughout your studies and future professional life.

La Trobe has a broad range of academic support services to assist students including:

  • Drop-in learning support for one-on-one assistance from Peer Learning Advisors and Student Learning Lecturers.
  • Starting out at uni provides useful resources and guides for all students, whether they’re starting out or need additional guidance along the way.
  • Student learning provides information to help you develop skills throughout your course

A range of additional support services are also available to help you throughout your time at La Trobe including:

The La Trobe Student Union offers its own range of student support services including a second-hand bookshop, emergency housing, financial counselling and emergency aid, advocacy, and legal aid.

The Beyond 18 website contains links to a variety of resources for young people who are leaving or have recently left out-of-home care.

Youth Central is the Victorian Government's website for young people aged 12-25. It is filled with great information and articles about studying, your rights at work, health and managing your money.

Research

Our Centre has conducted internationally leading research into higher education outcomes for students from an out-of-home care background.

Recruiting and supporting care leavers in Australian higher education

This report follows a multi-state, cross-institutional analysis of care leavers in Australian higher education; and explores how universities attract and support care leavers.

Read the report [PDF 1.44MB]

Out of care into university: Raising higher education access and achievement of care leavers

This report mapped the higher education sector in relation to people from out-of-home care backgrounds. It sought  to increase the visibility of the out-of-home care cohort and to provide a strong information base for future policy and research work. This report has been widely referenced in Australia and internationally, for example.

Read the report [PDF 1.27MB]

Information for Community Service Organisations

If you are from a community service organisation and would like further information about La Trobe and our support of young people from out-of-home care backgrounds, please email outofhomecare@latrobe.edu.au.

Staff and Student Guidelines

Surveys

The Beyond 18 Study

The Beyond 18 study are looking for 18-21 year olds who have spent time in Out of Home Care (e.g. foster care, residential care, lead tenant, permanent care or a kinship care placement) in Victoria to join the last stage of Victoria’s biggest ever Care Leaver study. By taking part in this study, you can help make the care system stronger and improve the experience of leaving care. If you are eligible and you complete the online survey, you will receive a $50 gift card.

You can find out if you are eligible to take part here or read more about why we are doing this study here. Alternatively, you can go directly to the Beyond 18’s survey for young people. Just go to the survey to get started!

CREATE's National Survey 2017

In July 2017, CREATE will commence another national review, to determine what has improved and identify areas that might still need work in the care system. CREATE’s National Survey 2017 research offers children and young people with a care experience the opportunity to share with CREATE, their experiences living in the care system. Find out more.

Awards

La Trobe University and Federation University Australia’s Higher Education for Care Leavers Strategy won the Equity and Opportunity category of the 2017 Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Awards.

Now in their third year, the prestigious awards recognise innovation and achievement in Australia’s higher education sector. Over 100 entries were considered by the judging panel of eminent higher education veterans.

The Higher Education for Care Leavers Strategy is a comprehensive approach to raise university access and success for care leavers. La Trobe and FedUni have successfully collaborated to provide outreach, academic and financial support to assist people who have spent time in foster, residential, or kinship care (care leavers).

The Care Leavers’ Strategy was informed by research conducted by La Trobe’s Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR). The evidence-based initiatives have successfully: improved data capture on care leavers at the point of application and enrolment; increased outreach to flexible learning schools and care(r) organisations; improved support for enrolled care leavers through the provision of bursaries and scholarships; increased awareness of the specific needs of care leavers as an equity group through the development and distribution of guidelines for university staff; and influenced institutional, state and national research and policy agendas.

The Strategy is strongly supported by the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, which leads a Sidney Myer Fund grant project on which La Trobe and FedUni are partners. Research informing the Strategy has been funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education and the Department of Education and Training National Priorities Pool.

The winners of the AFR Higher Education Awards were announced at a gala dinner on 29 August, as part of The Australian Financial Review Higher Education Summit. Dr Andrew Harvey, Director of CHEEDR, accepted the award.

Read La Trobe's media release here.