New services help young people with life after care

Published Thursday, 23 April, 2015 at 08:51 AM

Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

Young people leaving the child protection system will now have access to 24-hr support for the first time, as part of a new program designed with help from youth who have experienced out of home care. 

The Palaszczuk Government will provide $11.8m over four years for the Next Step After Care Services program, being launched by Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman at Beenleigh PCYC today [10.30-12pm, 20-38 Alamein Street].

“Signing a lease, preparing for a job interview or managing your money can be daunting for anyone when they turn 18, but many people have strong family or friendship networks to help them along the way,” Ms Fentiman said.

“I want young people leaving care to have similar support. Young people with first-hand experience of out of home care provided excellent ideas to help develop Next Step.

“The result is Queensland’s first targeted service, dedicated to supporting young people up to age 21, as they move out of care and on to establishing independent lives.”

The initiative includes a 24/7 state-wide information and crisis support phone line (1800 NEXT STEP), the Sortli mobile app to keep young people connected, as well as local services providing face-to-face support.

Sharna Norman, 20, welcomed the support Next Step would provide. She has worked with the CREATE Foundation to advocate strongly for services for youth leaving care.

“This will have a great impact on young people because they won’t feel so alone, they will feel like someone’s on their side and looking out for them, especially when things go wrong,” she said.

“Local support will make it easier for young people to build relationships. Building trust is important for young people in care because a lot of the time, their trust has been broken by the adults in their lives.”

Next Step will give young people practical support about issues including accommodation, managing money, education, becoming job ready or concerns with family and friends.

Life Without Barriers (LWB) will deliver the state-wide Next Step connections service plus a range of local services. LWB partnered with the CREATE Foundation to engage young people who had left care, who helped develop the name, branding and Next Step website.

Brad Swan, Director of Operations, North Australia for Life Without Barriers, said young people could come to Next Step for advice and support about anything.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a relatively simple issue, like how to go about getting a tax file number; a more complex problem, like sorting out family relationships; or a critical matter with housing or health.”

Four organisations will deliver on-the-ground, individualised support as part of Next Step After Care Services in regions across Queensland, including: 

  • Life Without Barriers (North Queensland, Central Queensland excluding South Burnett, Brisbane, South West Queensland and South East Queensland);
  • South Burnett CTC (South Burnett in Central Queensland);
  • Integrated Family and Youth Services (North Coast); and
  • Youth Empowered Towards Independence (Far North Queensland).

About 500 young people a year in Queensland transition from care and there are a further 1500 who are under 21 who have already transitioned.

Ms Fentiman said improving after-care services for young people leaving the child protection system was an issue recognised in the Carmody Report on Child Protection and an area which deserved bipartisan support.  

Young people can call or text 1800NEXTSTEP 24/7, or can connect via email, social media or through regional service providers.

For more information about the new after-care support services go to


Media Contact: Minister Fentiman’s office                           3719 7500