Support for Care Leavers at La Trobe
Have you spent time in out-of-home care (including foster care, residential care, kinship care, and/or being a ward of the State)? La Trobe offers a range of supports to students who have spent time in out-of-home care. Our ‘Higher Education for Care Leavers Strategy’ has even received a national award!
Below you will find information about financial, accommodation, academic and personal support for care leavers at La Trobe.
For further information and/or advice, please contact:
Support Coordinator, Transition and Success
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:
- Use the dedicated question in the “Difficult circumstances” section of the VTAC Special Entry Access Scheme to advise us that you spent time in out-of-home care. This could enable bonus points to be added to your ATAR to improve your chances of being offered a place.
- Direct entry after Year 12 is not the only path to university. Some pathways such as the Tertiary Preparation Program, VET & TAFE, and Work Recognition are available whether or not you completed Year 12.
- Attend events such as Open Days and Experience La Trobe to find out more information about the university.
- Visit The Future Students Centre, or call 1300 135 045.
- For further information and/or advice, please contact our Support Coordinator, Transition and Success Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
A variety of financial support mechanisms are in place to assist you from La Trobe and from other organisations:
- The La Trobe 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 Care Leaver Accommodation Scholarship is awarded to care leaver students to live in residence at the Albury/Wodonga, Bendigo and Melbourne Campuses.
- 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 ASSC and SHE 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 Association 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.
Did you know that there is accommodation available at most of our campuses to suit students of any age? Living at La Trobe 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 2020, La Trobe University will be offering four new Care Leaver Accommodation Scholarships for students who have spent time in out-of-home care (including foster care, residential care, kinship care, and/or being a ward of the state).
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.
- Haven; Home, Safe: provides homelessness support, low-income housing assistance, and programs to help those in need.
- 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 La Trobe Host Program to help you settle in.
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.
- Ready4Uni is designed to help you prepare for studying at La Trobe. Discover academic techniques for learning, tips for success, how to make friends though clubs and societies, support services, and more.
- Achieve@Uni 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:
- Counselling and mental health services.
- Careers advice and employability services
- Support available for students with a disability, mental health condition or long term medical illness.
- Support for students with a refugee background.
- Support for Indigenous students.
- Onsite childcare at our Bundoora campus.
- Support for students who have experienced or witnessed unacceptable or concerning behaviour.
The La Trobe Student Association 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 CREATE Your Future website has information for young people leaving care, including: information about money, everyday living, work, study, relationships, health, and support services. CREATE have also produced 'Go Your Own Way' kits for young people preparing to transition from care.
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.
Higher Education Guidelines for Students
Since 2015, La Trobe University has been part of the Raising Expectations project. Originally funded by a Sidney Myer Fund Grant (2015-2018), the Raising Expectations project aims to increase the number of young people in care and care leavers accessing higher education and succeeding. The project is led by the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW), with La Trobe University and Federation University Australia as partners. Swinburne University also joined the project in 2018.
La Trobe University’s efforts on the project are led by Associate Professor Andrew Harvey, Director of CHEEDR, and include: improving data capture on care leavers at the point of application and enrolment; increasing outreach to flexible learning schools and care(r) organisations; improving support for enrolled care leavers through the provision of bursaries and scholarships; raising awareness of the specific needs of care leavers as an equity group through the development and distribution of guidelines for university staff; and influencing institutional, state and national research and policy agendas.
In August 2019, the Victorian Department of Education and Training announced an additional $1,050,000 in funding to extend the Raising Expectations project until December 2022. Previously, the Victorian Department of Education and Training provided $200,000 in funding for the project (2018 - 2019).
On Friday 28th July 2017, two of La Trobe’s current care experienced students spoke alongside a student from Federation University at an Education Forum hosted by the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare. You can listen to these students speak about their experiences of getting to and succeeding at university here:
Care leaver stories
Read the story of La Trobe international relations student Claire Kearns:
Read the story of La Trobe human services and social work student Joseph Farren:
Read the story of La Trobe social work student Nicola-Jean Berry:
Read the story of La Trobe teaching alumnus Chevy O’Callaghan:
About La Trobe’s Care Leaver Strategy
La Trobe’s Care Leaver Strategy is informed by 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]. This research has led to the development of targeted programs such as the Care Leaver Bursary and has also provided a strong basis for broader national reform.
Our Centre has conducted internationally leading research into higher education outcomes for students from an out-of-home care background.
Improving postsecondary education planning for children in, and transitioning from, out-of-home care
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.
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.
- The Senate Community Affairs References Committee report into Out of Home Care [PDF 2.52MB];
- The CREATE Foundation Position Paper on Education and Out-of-Home Care [PDF 480KB];
- Research by Western Sydney University titled Children in Out of Home Care: Should we give them a Fair Go?;
- The Causes of differences in student outcomes report to HEFCE by King’s College London, ARC Network and The University of Manchester [PDF 2.58MB].
Higher Education Guidelines
As part of our research, we have developed two sets of national guidelines. One set of guidelines demystifies higher education for care-experienced prospective and current students and their carers. The other set of guidelines raises awareness of the specific needs of care leavers for university staff.
- Winner, Victorian Protecting Children Awards 2018 ‘Education Initiative Award’. Raising Expectations: increasing the number of care leavers going on to higher education.
- Highly commended, Australian Tertiary Education Management Awards 2018 'Excellence in Community Engagement'. Higher Education for Care Leavers Strategy.
- Winner, Australian Financial Review 2017 'Equity and Opportunity Award'. La Trobe University and Federation University – Higher Education for Care Leavers Strategy.
- Winner, La Trobe University 2017 'Vice-Chancellor’s Living the Cultural Qualities Staff Award'. The Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR) and contributing staff - Care Leavers in Higher Education Strategy.
Publications and media
Tsorbaris, D., Wilson, J., Harvey, A., Smith, S., Tootell, N. et al. (2019-2022). Raising Expectations: Improving education outcomes for young people in out of home care. Victorian Department of Education and Training, $1,050,000.
Harvey, A., Wilson, J., Mendes, P., & Matheson, I. (2018). Improving postsecondary education planning for children in, and transitioning from, out-of-home care. Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area, La Trobe University, $34,400.
Tsorbaris, D., Wilson, J. & Harvey, A. (2018-2019). Raising Expectations: Improving education outcomes for young people in out of home care. Victorian Department of Education and Training, $200,000.
Harvey, A., Andrewartha, L., Wilson, J., Beckley, A., & O'Brien, G. (2015). Attracting and supporting care leavers from low socio-economic status backgrounds, Australian Government, Department of Education and Training National Priorities Pool, $127,000.
Tsorbaris, D., Wilson, J., Harvey, A., McNamara, P., Snow, P. & Corrales, T. (2015-2018), Improving education outcomes for young people in out of home care, Sidney Myer Fund large grant, $724,000.
Harvey, A., McNamara, P., Brett, M. & Andrewartha, L. (2014). University Access and Achievement of People from Out-of-home Care Backgrounds, National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, $64,000.
Harvey, A., McNamara, P., Andrewartha, L., & Luckman, M. (2015). Out of care, into university: raising higher education access and achievement of care leavers. Report for the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), Curtin University.
Harvey, A., Campbell, P., Andrewartha, L., Wilson, J., Goodwin-Burns, P. (2017). Recruiting and supporting care leavers in Australian higher education. Report for the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Melbourne: Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research, La Trobe University.
Peer refereed book chapters
Wilson J.Z., Harvey A., Goodwin-Burns P., Humphries J. (2019). The “Perfect Score”: The Burden of Educational Elitism on Children in Out-of-Home Care, In P. McNamara, C. Montserrat and S. Wise (eds), Education in Out of Home Care, Springer.
Harvey, A. Wilson, J. Z., & Andrewartha, L. (2019). Strengthening the evidence base to improve educational outcomes for Australians in out-of-home care. In P. McNamara, C. Montserrat, and S. Wise (Eds.), Education in Out of Home Care. Chapter 4 (pp. 47-60), Springer.
Harvey, A., McNamara, P. & Andrewartha, L. (2016). Towards a national policy framework for care leavers in Australian higher education. In Philip Mendes and Pamela Snow (Eds.), Young people transitioning from out-of-home care: international research, policy and practice (pp. 93-113). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Peer refereed journal articles
Harvey, A., & Tootell, N. (accepted, forthcoming 2020). Raising higher education access and success for care leavers under COVID-19. Transform: Journal of Engaged Scholarship.
McNamara, P., Harvey, A. & Andrewartha, L. (2019). Passports out of poverty: raising access to higher education for care leavers in Australia. Children and Youth Services Review, 97, 85-93.
Wilson, J., Harvey, A. & Mendes, P. (2019). Changing Lives: Improving Care Leaver Access to Higher Education. Oxford Review of Education, Special Edition: Care leavers transitioning to Higher Education, 45(4), 573-586.
Andrewartha, L. & Harvey, A. (submitted). Overcoming adversity: the strengths of care leavers in Australian higher education. International Studies in Widening Participation.
Harvey, A., Andrewartha, L., & Luckman, M. (2016). Care leavers in Australian higher education: towards evidence-based practice. Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal, 46, 6-18.
Harvey, A., Andrewartha, L. & McNamara, P. (2015). A forgotten cohort? Including people from out-of-home care in Australian higher education policy. Australian Journal of Education. DOI: 10.1177/0004944115587529
Harvey, A., Tootell, N., Wilson, J. & Mendes, P. (2019). Postsecondary education planning for children in out-of-home care. Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference, Queensland, 1-5 December.
Harvey, A., Wilson, J. & Andrewartha, L. (2018). Beyond Cultural Capital: Strengths of Care Leavers in Higher Education. European Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF) Conference, Porto, Portugal, 2-5 October.
Humphries, J., Harvey, A., Wilson, J., Goodwin-Burns, P. & Tootell, N. (2018). Raising Expectations: A Cross-Sectoral Approach to Increase University Access for Care Leavers. European Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EUSARF) Conference, Porto, Portugal, 2- 5 October.
Humphries, J., Tootell, N., Harvey, A., Reid, E., Kearns, C., McLellan, J., Burley, P. (2018). Raising educational expectations: extending university outreach to flexible learning schools. Doing School Differently Conference, Gold Coast, 27-29 June.
Harvey, A., Campbell, P., Andrewartha, L. & Wilson, J. (2016) Attracting and supporting care leavers from low socio-economic status backgrounds in higher education. Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference, Melbourne, 27 November - 1 December.
Luckman, M., Harvey, A., McNamara, P. & Andrewartha, L. (2015). Care leavers and higher education: implications for equity practitioners. Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) Conference, Geelong, 9-12 November.
McNamara, P., Harvey, A., & Andrewartha, L. (2015). Care leaver transition to university in Australia: Applying local and international evidence to improve participation and retention. International Foster Care Research Conference, Siegen, Germany, 17-19 September.
Walley, C., Harvey, A., McNamara, P. & Andrewartha, L. (2015). Making tracks to tertiary education: In pursuit of better learning outcomes for Indigenous care leavers. Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAIC) National Conference, Perth, 15-17 September.
Harvey A. & McNamara, P. (2014). Pathways to higher education from out-of-home Care: Improving outcomes through a national approach. Association of Children's Welfare Agencies Conference, Sydney, 18-20 August.
McNamara, P. & Harvey, A. (2014). Access to tertiary education from out of home care in Australia: The case for a national framework. European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents Conference (EUSARF), Copenhagen, 2-5 September.
Berry, N. (2019, June 12). 'Soft bigotry' taints views of foster-care students. The Australian.
Harvey, A. (2019, May 10). Students go from care to life on campus. Bendigo Advertiser.
Harvey, A. & McNamara, P. (2015, June 9). Out of care and into university. Policy Online.
2SER (2019, September 18). Barriers foster children are facing to tertiary education, featuring Naomi Tootell. 2SER 107.3 FM.
ABC Radio National Life Matters (2019, July 22). How to create brighter futures for those with a background in foster care. Interview with Nicola Berry and Danny Hoekstra. ABC Radio National Life Matters.
ABC Central Victoria, Breakfast with Fiona Parker (2019, May 9). Interview with Andrew Harvey, Associate Professor and Director of Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity, ABC Central Victoria, Bendigo 91.1 FM.
ABC Radio PM (2018, March 7). Care leavers heading to uni through Victorian program, featuring A/Prof Andrew Harvey, ABC Radio PM.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2015, March 11). Out-of-home care: Interview with Chief Investigator, Dr Andrew Harvey. ABC PM.
Harvey, A. (2019). Invited panellist, Foster Care: Let's make it better - A panel discussion, Mildura, 31 October.
Harvey, A. (2019). Invited presenter. Care leavers in Australian higher education, Rees centre, University of Oxford, UK, 17 September.
Harvey, A. & Tootell, N. (2018). Invited presentation, Victorian equity practitioners' meeting, Melbourne, 8 November.
Harvey, A. (2018). Invited presenter, Care leavers in Australian higher education, National Out of Home Care and Higher Education Symposium University of Newcastle, 17 May.
Munn, B., Harvey, A. & Fuller, E. (2017, 20 November). Special Interest Group, Out of Home Care Leavers, Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) Conference, Brisbane, 20-23 November.
Harvey, A. (2015). Access to higher education for young people leaving care. Invited keynote. Access Monash Seminar 2015: Learning Families, Monash University, 4 September.
Rosales, M. (2020, June 11). La Trobe a partner in new Raising Expectations website for Care Leavers. La Trobe News.
Drok, K. (2020, March 03). ‘Improving equity for care leavers in higher education: Tracing the impact of Out of Care, Into University (2015)'. National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, Curtin University.
Perkins, M. (2020, February 14). Someone who believes in you: The national push to get care leavers into higher ed. The Sydney Morning Herald.
NCSEHE. (2019, November 25). My Story- Student Voice. NCSEHE.
Farren, J. (2019, November 12). My Story-Student Voice: Joseph Farren. NCSEHE.
Vowles, E. (2019, September 17). Nicola defied 'a sad statistic' to get to university. She wants it to be easier for others like her. ABC News.
Cox, D. (2019, August 7). Providing extra support for Victorians leaving out-of-home care. The Advertiser.
Kirkham, R. (2019, August 6). Raising Expectation program supports out of home care leavers to thrive at university. The courier.
Bennett, J. (2019, August 1). Education funding for care leavers. Shepparton News.
Kernebone, E. (2019, May 11). Reach for La Trobe event in Bendigo aims to bring children in care to university as part of Raising Expectations project. Bendigo Advertiser.
Knight, R. & Rossi, S. (2018, September). Children in out-of-home care and their educational outcomes, a literature review September 2018. QUT Business School and the Pyjama Foundation.
Kirkham, R. (2018, December 11). Advocates call for policy change to improve access to higher education. The Courier.
La Trobe University News (2018, November 8). Erica's scholarship helps her inspire young learners. La Trobe University News.
Berry, N. (2018, September 03). My Story-Student Voice: Nicola Berry. NCSEHE.
Nixon, M. (2018, August 22). Care leavers and HE: barriers that hinder and support that works. Times Higher Education.
Ruah Community Services (June 2017). Positive Futures: experiences of school and further education in out-of-home care (Fremantle, Rockingham & Kwinana Western Australia). Project report.
Ross, J. (2017, 5 April). La Trobe report urges unis to tap potential of ‘care leavers’. The Australian.
Akerman, T. (2017, January 31). University degree is achievable with some useful care. The Australian.
McDowall, J. J. (2016). CREATE's Go Your Own Way resource for young people transitioning from care in Australia: An evaluation. Sydney: CREATE Foundation.
St Saviors. (July 2016). Transition to Leaving Care. Research report.
Tsorbaris, D. (2016, June 21). Not good enough: Raising expectations for young Australians leaving care. Pro Bono News.
Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare. (2015, August 5). Improving Educational Outcomes for Young People Leaving Care [media release].
Cervini, E. (2015, March 23). University could transform those leaving care – but no welcome mat laid out. The Age.
Hare, J. (2015, August 5). $724k grant to boost tertiary study for abused youth. The Australian.
La Trobe University. (2015, August 10). La Trobe wins Myer Large Grant. UniNews. 27(27).
La Trobe University. (2015, March 12). Out of care and out of uni options. UniNews.
Loussikian, K. (2015, March 11). Foster care leavers need extra support in higher education. The Australian.
McCallum, A. (2015, April 20). Young people leaving foster homes at 18 still need care. The Age.
Mendes, P. (2015, March 16). Young people not supported after they leave care. Eureka Street.
Passmore, D. (2015, March 14). Queensland ejects hundreds of youngsters a year from state care as they turn 18. The Courier Mail.
On Friday 10 May 2019, the Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR), the La Trobe School Partnerships Program (SPP) and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CFECFW) co-hosted an event at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe. REACH for La Trobe! provided young people in out-of-home care and their support network – including carers, case workers, teachers, service providers – with a taste of university life, as well as information about entry pathways, and the services and support offered by the University.
A similar event was hosted by CHEEDR at the Bendigo campus in 2016.
Information for Community Service Organisations
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare has developed an education guide for carers and professionals who support young people living in out-of-home care.
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 email@example.com.