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Calls for higher allowances for Victorian foster carers

2 min read
Victorian foster carers

Leaders in the care industry are calling for Victorian foster carers to be paid a higher allowance with figures showing the amount received no longer covers the cost of living. 

Victoria has the lowest Care Allowance rate for foster, kinship, and permanent care anywhere in Australia. A recent comparison* revealed volunteer foster carers in Victoria are paid $91 dollars a week less than a New South Wales family caring for a child the same age (6 years old). 

Lighthouse Foundation CEO, Dr Eamonn McCarthy, said Foster Care Week, 10-16 September 2023, is an important opportunity to have a conversation. 

“Our sector, particularly here in Victoria, is struggling to recruit and retain foster carers, and we must look at the broader picture as to the pressures these volunteers face,” Dr Eamonn said. 

“Carers have long delved into their own pockets to cover things like extracurricular activities, but with the rising cost of living, we are hearing more stories of people across the sector having to save on basics to afford to continue caring for the State’s most vulnerable children. 

“Lighthouse Foundation has a unique model which improves support for foster carers, with a hub home where young people and their carers can go for respite, hands-on help with everyday logistics like groceries, therapy, and a chance to socialise with other foster families.” 

Foster Care Association of Victoria CEO, Samantha Hauge, said a petition to raise the Victorian Care Allowance is now live and more than 1600 submissions have already been received. 

“One carer explained they are up to $14,000 out of pocket a year while another said they stopped providing care because they couldn’t afford to keep covering costs. Our figures show in a snapshot of March, more foster carers left the system than joined in Victoria, with a net loss of 60 families, while the latest annual results from AIHW show a net loss of 317 households in Victoria.” Ms Hauge said. 

“The Victorian Care Allowance cost of living indexation for the last 24 months was 2% when annual household inflation was more than 6% in both 2022 and 2023. An allowance increase is critical to bring Victorian care conditions to parity with other States, support placements in jeopardy now, keep existing carers in the system and to increase the numbers of would-be carers who are locked out due to costs.” 

33-year-old foster carer Rob says Lighthouse Foundation carers often receive a higher allowance due to the therapeutic needs of the young people they support but admits the cost of care has an impact. 

“The allowance probably just covers costs, particularly the way things are going now. I had a conniption when I saw my last gas bill – it’s gone up more than 2.5 times in the 8 months I’ve become a foster carer,” he said. 

“The support from Lighthouse has been brilliant. The way the hub model works is really handy – it’s a home away from home. The fortnightly psychologist has also been really helpful, and the case managers are always available for one-on-one conversations. 

“As a foster carer, you’re giving these kids a chance, a structure, an opportunity. It’s certainly been life-changing for me – I’m doing things now that I wouldn’t have done before, which is exciting and a good bit of fun as well.” 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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