Homeless children and out-of-home care

Exploring barriers to out-of-home care placement for older children experiencing homelessness

Degree type


Closing date

6 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Child safety systems across Australia are struggling with increasing caseloads and ever-mounting pressure on the out-of-home care system.  Similarly, numbers of children presenting alone to Specialist Homelessness Services are increasing.  Homelessness services are also regularly providing care for children formally ordered into out-of-home care though they may be neither designed nor funded to provide the level of care children need.

This project investigates the interface of child safety and youth homelessness services for those not placed on care and protection orders.  It addresses the question of why it is that some children remain homeless for long periods of time, without an out-of-home care response.  What experiences of the child protection system do unaccompanied homeless children have, if any?  What do professionals within youth homelessness and outreach services observe about this cohort's Child Safety interactions?  What do professionals within Child Safety, youth homelessness and outreach services observe about this cohort's Child Safety interactions, including any barriers to being placed on care and protection orders or into out-of-home care?

Given the older age of children accessing youth homelessness and outreach services, this project has a particular interest in investigating responses to adolescents within child protection services.  Crossing multiple fields including the sociology of children and youth, child protection studies and welfare politics, policy and practice, this project offers interdisciplinary scope to explore issues such as the residualisation of child welfare, perceptions and assessment of the safety and risk of adolescents, and barriers to agency and service coordination for older children with complex needs.

A focus of this project is establishing what works in successful care provision for unaccompanied older children, and considering how this can be delivered in the Australian context to children based on their needs, regardless of the application of care and protection orders.  This may also include exploration of a legal framework for care provision.  This is a project which will require astute attention to ethical, culturally safe, and trauma-informed research practice.

This project may have a part-time study option available. Some restrictions may apply. Please discuss your preference with the Supervisor and note your preferred study option when applying.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Catherine Robinson


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must provide evidence of current WWVP registration.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants with an interest, skill and/or experience in trauma-informed professional or research practice are encouraged to apply.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Catherine Robinson to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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