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What does leaving care mean?

Leaving care is a technical term used in legislation. All it means is that your care order ends and you are no longer formally in the care of the Minister. This usually happens when you turn 18.

Leaving care doesn't mean you have to leave where you are currently living - that is up to you and your carer to decide. Another way of thinking about this is that you've reached the time in your life when planning for your future is a good idea.

Planning for your future starts at the age of 15. This is to give you 3 years to work with your caseworker, carer and family to put together a plan - what is called leaving care or future planning. This plan stays in place until you are 25, but it can change and be updated depending on your needs.

What is in your leaving care plan?

Your leaving care plan covers how you will achieve your aims, who will help you, and will address things like:

  • Culture and connection – the network of people around you
  • Health and wellbeing – how you will look after your health
  • Education – if you plan on attending higher education
  • Training and employment – whether you want to work or study
  • Living skills – getting a driver licence, budgeting your money and so on
  • Legal matters – consider any legal issues
  • Finance support and entitlements – what financial support is available to you
  • Accommodation - where you are planning on living

You can find dozens of links to these topics under ‘Key elements of a leaving care plan’. As your plan is about you and your future, your input is vital. It's important that you talk to your caseworker so the plan will be a meaningful resource to support and guide you on your journey to independence.

The Care Leavers' Charter of Rights outlines key principles that will be followed to support care leavers as they transition to independent living. The Charter uses the voices of young people who are or were in care to say what is important to them, how they should be treated and what they expect from the practitioners who support them.

Also check the YOU website to see how you can start planning for your future:

How care works
Understanding your journey so far

Charter of rights
Your rights while in OOHC

Your culture and identity
Connecting with your culture

Your education
Help finishing school, and considering TAFE and University as an option

Your relationships
Staying in contact with your family, friends or your previous carer

Your health
Looking after your physical, mental and emotional health and how to use the National Disability Scheme (NDIS)

Planning for your future
Financial support, renting your own place, getting a job

Support after you leave care

Even if you have turned 18 and you have now formally left care, you are not on your own. You can approach your agency or DCJ for ongoing support and advice. Contact:

People who have left care and those who are about to leave care are encouraged to get in touch with the Care Leavers Line if they have questions or are in need of support.

In circumstance where you are unable to contact your previous agency, you can contact a Specialist Aftercare Service instead.

The types of support you may be able to receive are described in the Guidelines for the provision of assistance after leaving out-of-home care.

Types of aftercare assistance

Types of aftercare assistance may include:

Contact detail for specialist aftercare services

If you are unable to obtain the support you need from the agency that managed your OOHC placement you can contact a Specialist Aftercare Service for assistance.

You may contact any of these services no matter where you are currently living in NSW.

Aboriginal Aftercare State Wide Service
State Wide (office bases Dubbo and Gosford)
1300 339 016

CatholicCare After Care Program
Hunter/New England
02 4979 1120

Family Spirit After Care
South Eastern Sydney
13 18 19

Relationships Australia (NSW)
Central Coast
1800 656 884

Relationships Australia (NSW)
Nepean/Blue Mountains, Northern Sydney, Western Sydney
1800 656 884

Uniting ACE AfterCare
Illawarra Shoalhaven
02 4220 1127

Uniting ACE AfterCare
Mid North Coast
02 6581 6600

Uniting ACE AfterCare
South Western Sydney
02 4628 3199

Uniting AfterCare Services
Western Sydney
02 9768 6888

For information about services such as family tracing, health and counselling, including contact details, see support and resources. Also check out these resources about planning for your future:

  • YOU
    Comprehensive information about leaving and aftercare supports
  • Go Your Own Way Info Kit
    Create Foundation's resource for young people aged 15 and above who are starting to plan for their transition to adulthood and independence
  • Download the Resolve app
    Specifically built for care leavers, it has advice about identity, relationships, health, education and employment, finance, housing and accommodation, and living skills.
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Last updated: 22 May 2020