Better futures: Stronger and streamlined leaving care practice using a capabilities approach

Transforming policy reforms into practice in the statutory family – a case study of Victorian leaving care initiatives
Friday 27 July


Joe Howie
Brotherhood of St Laurence

Among policy makers, service providers and researchers, momentum is growing for a paradigm shift in our responses to young people experiencing disadvantage and exclusion, towards a focus on identifying and “valorising” people’s fundamental capabilities. This shift sharpens our minds towards developing policy and programs that develop and, most importantly, invest in the skills, capabilities and assets of young people to enable sustainable livelihoods.
Colin Falconer of the UK Foyer Federation developed an Advantaged Thinking approach to mobilise this capabilities centred theory. Advantaged Thinking combines individual with structural approaches to change and provide a framework for governments, community sectors, employers and services to work with and invest in young people. For young people to successfully participate in and contribute to social and economic life, access to the networks and opportunities that facilitate this is vital.
Rather than solely investing in young people’s problems, that is, focusing on crisis intervention and needs-based solutions, program and policy responses need to build young people’s abilities, develop their assets and co-create solutions – real jobs, real education and real community connections – thus enabling independent adulthood.
The Early Pathways Unit (DHHS), in partnership with the Brotherhood of St Laurence, are currently trialling a stronger and streamlined Leaving Care service delivery model and testing an Advantaged Thinking approach as part of the Better Futures post-care service, Barwon Pilot.