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New partnership to support Aboriginal youth leaving South Australian state care

Callan Morse -

A new partnership between two leading Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and SA Housing Authority is set to support the personal independence of young Aboriginal people leaving state care in South Australia.

The joint partnership between the South Australia's Aboriginal Community Housing Limited, Aboriginal Family Support Services and the SA Housing Authority will see Aboriginal teenagers leaving care transition towards personal independence.

As part of the agreement, SA Housing Authority is set to provide 15 properties to Aboriginal Community Housing Limited by leasing up to five two and three-bedroom homes in metropolitan Adelaide per year over the next three years.

The housing support will assist the implementation of Aboriginal Family Support Services' (AFSS) Supported Independent Living Service program, Skillin' It, with an anticipated up to 20 Aboriginal people set to benefit from the program each year.

Aboriginal Family Support Services senior manager residential care, Shane Catterall, said the AFSS' Supported Independent Living Service (SILS) program aims to provide the best pathway for young Aboriginal people leaving care.

"… we want to provide the opportunity for the young people involved in the program to have not only life skills, but a solid place in their community, reachable goals around education and employment and a strong connection to their culture," Mr Catterall said.

Mr Catterall said although AFSS are not the only service providing SILS in the state, they are the only Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation providing this service and to his knowledge, the only service offering young people stable housing for a period of time once they turn 18.

"This ensures that there is a level of stability and ongoing support through the initial change to 'post care' supports," he said.

"We want to see young people living full and enriched lives into adulthood with a skill set and knowledge for anything they come up against."

The program assists young Aboriginal people aged 16 to 18 develop independent living skills including budgeting, shopping, cooking and self-care.

Aboriginal Community Housing Limited (ACHL) national manager, Stacey Broadbent, said ACHL's goal is to ensure Indigenous peoples have access to safe and sustainable housing.

"Through the SILS program, this will be achieved by working in partnership with AFSS to ensure young Aboriginal people start their journey into adulthood with a roof over their head and skills that will assist them throughout their life journey," Ms Broadbent said.

Ms Broadbent said ACHL is proud to partner on the initiative to support vulnerable young Indigenous peoples who through the program, will have an opportunity to acquire skills towards independent living in a culturally appropriate home.

"Having a stable, affordable, accessible home is fundamental to living a good and fulfilled life," Ms Broadbent said.

"This next chapter into their lives of becoming independent, while learning about themselves is exciting."

South Australian human services minister, Nat Cook, said that nationwide, Aboriginal people were over-represented across the homelessness system with South Australia's Aboriginal Housing Strategy aiming to ensure those leaving institutions have pathways into stable and safe housing.

"We know that young people leaving care are one of our community's most vulnerable groups of people. They often may not have had the chance to develop life skills that will help them in their daily lives – skills like looking after a home, meal preparation and shopping," Ms Cook said.

Ms Cook said the Skillin' It initiative is part of the South Australian government's vision to ensure Aboriginal people in the state have access to safe, secure and affordable homes achieved through shared decision-making and culturally informed services that maintain Aboriginal peoples' personal and cultural wellbeing.

"This partnership between the Authority, AFFS and ACHL means many more young people will be able to transition to independence with support and security that will give them the confidence and self-belief Setting young people up for success reduces the risk of homelessness," she said.

Head of homelessness sector integration at SA Housing Authority, Ian Cox said the partnership reaffirms South Australia's strong commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap Priority Reforms.

"We are determined to deliver a strong and inclusive housing system that delivers on community expectations and this latest initiative, built on strong partnerships and shared decision making with the community led organisations, will ensure young Aboriginal people have a positive journey out of state care and into a new home," he said.

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