The OOHC study population was more likely to receive income support, and for longer periods of time, compared to the Australian population of the same age. The proportion of the OOHC study population receiving income support was highest at the ages they were transitioning from care (18-20 years), followed by a slight decline as they approached 30. However, despite this decline, the OOHC study population continued to have much higher receipt than the Australian population of the same age throughout their late twenties (54%–55% compared to 14%–16% between ages 25 and 29, respectively), with the difference in receipt between the two populations increasing with age.

The findings in this study have highlighted that the OOHC study population are in need of income support for longer or are repeatedly moving in and out of income support into their late 20’s, suggesting they are at increased risk of not being able to maintain ongoing employment. For the Australian population of the same age, receipt of income support tends to be associated with key life stages such as pursuing further education or training or starting a family, resulting in shorter periods of time receiving income support rather than ongoing support.

For a more nuanced understanding of the life circumstances of recipients it is important to examine income support receipt by payment type. This analysis revealed that despite an overall decline in income support receipt with increasing age, largely driven by the decline in student and unemployment payments, a steady increase was observed in parenting, housing, and disability related payments up to the age of 30. This reflects the changing needs and circumstances of people who have left care as they get older. Many people in the OOHC study population transitioned between these different payments as their needs changed. The analysis also highlighted that receipt of payments varied depending on a person’s OOHC characteristics; for example, those exiting care aged 17 or 18 were more likely to receive income support than those exiting care aged less than 3.

The findings presented in this report do not imply causation between a child’s time in OOHC and their subsequent receipt of income support or other payments. These children may be affected by complex circumstances that contribute to their placement in OOHC, and which may also influence their need for further services, such as income support. Further, the characteristics of children who experience OOHC are quite different to those of other populations of the same age, which may influence receipt of income support based on eligibility requirements for these payments. These factors should be taken into consideration when drawing inferences in relation to the OOHC study population and other populations of the same age.