Therapeutic residential care: An update on current issues in Australia

CFCA Paper No. 49 – September 2018


Therapeutic residential care is a relatively recent development in out-of-home care service provision for young people who are unable to be placed in family-based care for a range of reasons.

Since the inaugural Australian Therapeutic Residential Care Forum in 2010 - held shortly after therapeutic residential care was first piloted in Australia - this form of service provision has seen sustained growth in this country.

This paper provides an update on developments in therapeutic residential care that have occurred since the forum and the publication of its companion paper Therapeutic residential care in Australia: Taking stock and looking forward (McLean, Price-Robertson, & Robinson, 2011). These developments include: the creation of an industry peak body; an Australian definition for therapeutic residential care; a better understanding of young people's needs; an understanding of the effective elements of therapeutic residential care; and guiding policies and workforce initiatives in Australian jurisdictions. This paper also discusses the implications of these developments, and touches on further issues and dilemmas that should form the focus of research and practitioner partnerships in the future.

A companion paper to this paper will present the results of a 2018 survey of existing Australian therapeutic residential care services (McLean, forthcoming), in order to better describe contemporary Australian practice. The results of this survey are expected to provide a useful description of how Australian services currently operate; and provide baseline information to inform future policy, research and service delivery.