Anglicare has launched new research which shows highly vulnerable young Tasmanians are missing out on life-changing care – and sets out a plan to prioritise their needs.
The report Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania focuses on children and young people aged 10-17 who have experienced significant harm - including multiple forms of violence - but are not on Care and Protection Orders nor in out of home care.
“During the crucial years of their development, these children have had persistent exposure to physical and emotional harm, and face extreme adversity during adolescence including homelessness and difficulty accessing mental health support and education,” said Dr Catherine Robinson from our Social Action and Research Centre. “Distressingly, we found that many young people end up labelled ‘too hard’ and miss out on even the most basic forms of care”.
What helps is intensive, long-term, relationship-based care – but there is currently a dire shortage of this kind of therapeutic support in Tasmania.
“Instead, we have a fragmented system of referral between short-term interventions and a lack of specialist adolescent services,” said Catherine.
“Supportive, ongoing, relationship-based care is vital to ensure the safety of young Tasmanians, help them recover from trauma, and develop positive mental health and well-being,” she said.
The Anglicare report called for more investment in specialised medium and long-term supported housing options for young people in Tasmania. “Again, this needs to be trauma-informed, therapeutic care which can support young people towards independence or to return home where this safe,” said Catherine.
The research recommended existing adolescent services in Tasmania be expanded to include greater investment in trauma-specific mental health services, residential drug detox and rehabilitation, and alternative education options.
“Clear funding commitments are needed for each of these vital services to genuinely meet the need that is there,” said Catherine. “We can design and fund support services in a way that shows we refuse to label any young Tasmanian as ‘too hard’ and that we care deeply about their well-being and futures”.
“All young people have a right to safety, shelter, care and education,” she said. “These are basic building blocks of childhood. It’s time to provide highly vulnerable young people with the care they need, so that they can imagine a positive future like other young Tasmanians”.
PLEASE NOTE: The research contains graphic descriptions of family violence and other confronting material. If you find this distressing and want someone to talk to, please call Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 RESPECT; Lifeline 13 11 14.