In Western Australia, young people leave care when they are 18 years old. They are often ill-equipped to build successful lives or even look after themselves. Generally they have below-average educational qualifications, weak social networks and often continuing emotional and psychological issues.

No wonder that the scanty research there is points to poor long term outcomes.

The most recent significant study was conducted in Victoria2 in 2006. It found that adults who had been in care as children:

  • Had more health issues
  • Were more often in trouble with the law
  • Had lower incomes
  • Needed much more welfare support
  • Were more likely to have their own children taken into care

This study found government spending to deal with these issues averaged an extra $738,741 per person, over their lifetimes.

That major cost to the community compared with spending of just $33,791 per child per year (less in WA) when they were in care.

Wouldn't it have made better economic sense to spend more on the child when they were in care, to avoid these life-long costs – and their repetition in the next generation?