December 7, 2023
12:30pm – 2pm


  • Lottie Harris, PhD candidate, Australian Catholic University
  • Dr Jacinta Waugh, Teaching Fellow and Researcher at Monash University

Check out the recording here!

This session explored key research and practice in an important area of improving the experience and outcomes of out of home care. The Forum provided two presentations: the first being a “Discussion starter on participatory practices for children and young people in out of home care” and the second, a discussion regarding “the influence of informal relationships on the lives of young people leaving out of home care”. The session then engaged forum participants Heidi Tucker (CEO, Anchor Community Care Ltd), Tegan Nicholls (Youth mentor, Anchor Community Care Ltd), and Mark Rayner (General Manager, Wombat Housing) in sharing their own professional insights.

Discussion starter on participatory practices for children and young people in out of home care

– Lottie Harris, Australian Catholic University

This paper was a presentation on the findings of a literature review on the role of supporting young people’s participation in decision making in OOHC (Out-of-Home-Care). The literature review identified key benefits of fostering participation, and described the key strategies and challenges at organisational, procedural and practice levels identified in the literature.

The sessions focus was to provide insight into this research and particularly focus on key takeaways actions that can and are being adopted into practice right now. The presentation highlighted the responsibility of adults in the lives of care-experienced youth, to uphold the inherent rights of children and young people to engage in decisions that affect them. It provided insights and outlined participatory practices which can act as a roadmap for practitioners in OOHC.

 Key messages

  • Children and young people benefit from participatory practices in OOHC: increased sense of belonging, self-worth and confidence improving their overall well-being. Positive life-long outcomes such as an improved sense of self-advocacy when faced with challenges and increased interest and active participation in civic life (i.e., voting). OOHC services are appropriately tailored to them and meet their individual needs, leading to better individual outcomes.
  • Organisations benefit from participatory practices in OOHC: improved outcomes and more engaged clients who are invested in the OOHC organisation they are a part of.

Practices to Enhance Participatory Opportunities

  • Five practices were identified as supporting participation: Meetings, Activity Tools, User-Friendly Documentation, Family Group Conferences, and Advocates.
  • The Lundy Model of Participation is a helpful tool for assessing practices, offering a simple self-audit tool for organisations interested in improving their work in this space.
  • Research presented demonstrated that current evidence-based practices have long term outcomes, encouraging practitioners to continue despite often not being present in the young people’s lives to witness the outcomes (due to placement changes or transition out of care)

Presentation one slides

Additional Resources:

Activity Tools:

  1. Statewide children’s resource program ‘Hear my voice cards
  2. Yaali Collective Yarning Cards
  3. Australian Childhood Foundation Action Feedback Toolkit
  4. Mind of my own app

Youth Friendly Documentation: ACF615-Words-Matter-Resource-Portrait-v6.pdf (

Lundy Model: Enabling the meaningful participation of children and young people globally: The Lundy Model (

The influence of informal relationships on the lives of young people leaving out of home care

– Dr Jacinta Waugh, Monash University

The second presentation reported on research undertaken by Dr Jacinta Waugh for her PHD on the influence of informal relationships on the lives of young people leaving out of home care. Jacinta provided valuable insights into the dynamics of informal social relationships and their crucial role in the well-being and development of care-experienced youth. The session placed emphasis on the challenges faced during the transition from care to adulthood, and the importance of social relationships in slowing down this transition to better address the developmental and environmental needs of young people.

Key Messages:

  • Reciprocity in relationships contributes to meaningful connections.
  • Informal support is crucial in linking young people to valuable resources.
  • Emotional support and the implicit nature of esteem support, contributes to positive identity construction.
  • Progressive responsibility is important, I.e. how trust and constructive feedback contribute to the emotional and behavioural development of young people.

Research Recommendations:

  • Care workers confirmed the variability of informal relationships and their impact on care-experienced individuals.
  • Positive relationships were seen as opportunities for personal growth, bridging to others, and contributing to a wider community. Workers advocated for ensuring healthy influences in the young clients’ lives and expanding social networks through participation in various activities.
  • Emphasised the importance of advocacy, mapping social networks, and engaging in respectful conversations with young people.
  • Identified barriers, including trauma, stigma, and structural issues like frequent placements and housing deficiencies.

Call to Action:

  • The research highlighted the need to elevate the importance of positive informal relationships in the care pathway plan.
  • The presentation supported an increased effort in fostering meaningful connections to support the transition to adulthood for care-experienced young people.

Presentation two slides

Additional Resources:

Living on the Edge – Chapter 12: Book chapter on the informal relationships of young people leaving care. Living on the Edge – chapter 12. Contains chapters on varying aspects of care-experienced young people transition from all over the world, including three from Australia.

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