Why is COMPASS important?

The COMPASS program has been designed in response to a clear, unmet need to provide better support for care leavers in Victoria. This service gap is well-established both in Victoria and around Australia. Studies in Australia and overseas have demonstrated that young care leavers experience significantly poorer outcomes than their peers across a number of areas. They are:

  • more likely to be homeless;
  • less likely to complete school beyond Year 10 or participate in further education;
  • likely to be unemployed;
  • more likely to experience poor health outcomes, including mental health;
  • more likely to suffer harm associated with alcohol and other drug use; and
  • more likely to be involved with the justice system.

As well as the personal cost to these young people, these outcomes represent significant costs to the community if these problems become entrenched and people call on the health and social care services and income support services for ongoing support. Preventative strategies are therefore crucial.

In Victoria, formal State care currently ends at 18 years old – or earlier. Many young people growing up in Out of Home Care, begin preparing to leave as early as 15 years old. Conversely, almost 50% of young people in the general population aged between 18 and 24 are still living with one or both parents and enjoying the financial, practical and personal support that their family home provides.

Many young people living in Out of Home Care have experienced significant trauma and disruption in their lives, and often have limited access to support from family, friendship circles and local communities. Preparing for a successful transition out of care is vitally important if we are to improve outcomes.

What will COMPASS do?

COMPASS combines access to secure housing with dedicated, personalised case management and access to additional specialist supports. The program provides different levels of support and types of housing according to the young person’s assessed level of need.

Both specialist services and housing will also draw on the existing service system: Anglicare Victoria’s key workers will draw on locally-established relations across the service system to broker referral pathways to local specialist services for young people. VincentCare Victoria will leverage its strong relationships with real estate agents and rental property managers to secure housing for participants, supplemented by purchased properties.

Intake into the COMPASS program will be staggered over approximately 3 years, with each person participating for 2 years (resulting in an estimated program length of approximately 5 years).

Outcome measures

COMPASS will generate financial returns for investors which are variable based on measured performance against the following 3 outcome measures:

  • Housing (60% weighting): assessed by monitoring requests for emergency accommodation, measured 2 and 4 years after each participant commences the program;
  • Health (20% weighting): assessed by hospital emergency department presentations, measured 2 and 4 years after each participant commences the program; and
  • Justice (20% weighting): assessed by the number of recorded convictions, measured 4 years after each participant commences the program.

In each case, performance will be assessed by comparing the outcomes for COMPASS participants with a statistically matched, stratified control group of care leavers across the state. Results will be independently certified.

Based on current research, COMPASS is expected to deliver material improvements in the lives of Out of Home Care leavers in each of these areas and provide material cost savings to the Victorian community.