Care leavers now have access to comprehensive resources and financial support as Swinburne joins Raising Expectations, building on its existing supports and services for students who have lived in out of home care.
Raising Expectations was established to help students who have experienced foster, kinship, residential or permanent care to aspire to, and succeed in tertiary education. It provides resources, support and services to help young people in care and care leavers to access tertiary education and university.
Swinburne joins Raising Expectations, a partnership between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Federation University Australia and La Trobe University, to build on existing support services for care leaver students.
Commencing or continuing Swinburne students, enrolled in a vocational education course, who have spent time in formal, out-of-home care will have now access to a $500 bursary payment. This is in addition to the existing $5,000 Access Scholarships funded by the Higher Education Participation Programme.
“Swinburne is proud to support students of all backgrounds. Partnering with the Raising Expectations project is another step on our journey towards making education accessible for all,” says Dr Andrew Smith, Vice-President (Students).
“Joining this project ensures we are committed to supporting people from care backgrounds transition into higher or vocational education, as well as helping these students achieve their academic goals and find professional purpose during their time at Swinburne.”
For care leavers, Swinburne provides dedicated and tailored wrap-around support to access education opportunities including:
- course and training guidance
- help applying for a course
- career guidance (resume preparation, interview skills, job search skills) via one-on-one sessions or group workshops
- referring students to external support services
- helping students to access Swinburne’s student support services.
Complete information regarding care leaver support can be found on the Swinburne website.
Advocating for change
Cherie Le Miere who spent time in the out-of-home care system, is a current student of Swinburne who has helped guide Swinburne to support care leavers.
“It’s extremely difficult to complete a course of study whilst homeless or with inadequate income to meet the basic costs of living,” says Ms Le Miere.
Cherie Le Miere helped guide Swinburne toward more support for care leavers.
“Knowing that care leavers are greatly underrepresented in tertiary education and having advocated for social justice for care leavers in the past, in 2014, I decided to educate Swinburne about the level of disadvantage experienced by care leavers attempting to access and complete tertiary education.”
Cherie submitted a presentation making a case for the creation of a scholarship and in 2015, Swinburne became the first Australian university to offer a scholarship for care leavers. Cherie was very encouraging of Swinburne’s partnership with the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and Raising Expectations.