Young People from Out of Home Care Have Their Voices Heard

A study funded by Australian Rotary Health is the first to trial a mental health program co-designed and co-delivered by young people with experience of Out of Home Care (OoHC).

As part of the ‘Bounce Project’, a study led by Australian Rotary Health Mental Health Research Grant recipient Professor Helen Herrman, 60 young people were recruited to either complete a program of youth leadership training or youth leadership plus mental health training. The second group also participated as paid advocates related to OoHC.

“Most of the participants had lived in residential care, some in foster care, and one third had experienced more than five placements while in out of home care. These factors are linked to high risks of mental ill-health and related problems in education, work and relationships,” said Professor Herrman.

When young participants were interviewed in depth about their experiences of the program, overall it was well received.

“Young people who participated in the mental health program described how they felt valued and gained confidence. They also gained mental health knowledge, new friendships and other skills,” Professor Herrman said.

“The young people reported that the skills and networking opportunities gained through the Bounce training gave them a valuable platform to contribute to system-level change.”

Despite these positive reports, there were some challenges experienced as well.

“While they valued being able to contribute to the design of the study, some participants found it difficult being involved in a study that randomly allocated participants to different groups with different benefits.”

“The study design emphasised the need to support and care for the young people engaged in the study. Even so, some young people felt uncomfortable and future studies should include provision for extra support to vulnerable young people.”

Professor Herrman believes a particular highlight of the study was being able to successfully recruit young people who are usually hard to reach.

“It is possible to recruit a substantial group of hard-to-reach youth to be involved in a mental health research project involving co-design. This has not been attempted before.”

“This study was to our knowledge a world first trial of a mental health program that was co-designed and co-delivered by young people with experience of out of home care.”

The results of this study were recently published in the journal Health Promotion International. Download PDF article here.

Professor Herrman and her team from the University of Melbourne (VIC) received an ARH Mental Health Research Grant from 2014-2016.


Media contact: Jessica Cooper – (02) 8837 1900 or

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