The What's Next OOHC fund helps young people aged 15-21 who have been living in out-of-home care in Queensland take the next step into training and employment.
Eligible young people can get free advice about jobs and training aligned to their skills and interests, as well as financial support to enrol in vocational education and training.
Young people aged 22-24 who have been in out-of-home care in Queensland may also be eligible for assistance if they are not currently working or studying.
Registrations are closed.
Why was the fund established?
The Queensland Government recognises that young people who have been in out-of-home care (OOHC) are a vulnerable group who face particular barriers to their successful participation in further education and training after school.
The What's Next OOHC Fund is designed to strengthen learning and employment pathways for young people who have been in Queensland State Care by reducing financial barrier to their participation in relevant, high quality vocational education and training (VET). It also provides these young people with access to individualised career and training information to support them to make good decisions about learning and employment pathways.
The fund can support eligible young people to enrol in subsidised accredited vocational education and training qualifications where the qualification clearly leads to a learning or employment pathway.
What assistance is available?
Assistance available through the fund includes:
- support from the What's Next pathways officer to navigate the VET system and make good decisions about training and employment pathways
- a career assessment to identify potential careers that may be suitable
- financial assistance to meet the cost of training including payment of the student enrolment fee
- where it is an essential component of the VET program - payment of other training related expenses e.g. uniforms, textbooks, equipment and occupational licenses etc. will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Who is eligible?
Young people aged 15-21 who are in out-of-home care, or who have been reunited with their families after care or who have transitioned to independence after being in out-of-home care in Queensland are eligible to apply to the fund. Out-of-home care can include foster care, approved kinship care, therapeutic residential care, supported independent living arrangements and residential care services.
Applications from young people aged 22-24 who are not currently working or studying will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Young people who have been in out-of-home care in other states or overseas are not eligible for assistance from this fund.
How do I register for the What's Next OOHC Fund?
1. Send an email to register for the fund.
To register for the fund you need to email WhatsNextOOHC@det.qld.gov.au providing your:
- first and last name
- contact phone number
- consent to share your contact details with the What's Next pathways officer who is employed by TAFE Queensland and the What's Next support officer who is employed by Life Without Barriers
- proof of eligibility.
To show you're eligible you can either attach a statement from your Child Safety Officer or support agency like CREATE or Next Step After Care confirming your eligibility, OR provide permission to the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training to contact Child Safety to confirm your OOHC status. If you want us to confirm your eligibility, your email must state that you give permission for the department to contact Child Safety and you will need to provide your first name, last name, date of birth and gender as it would appear on your Child Safety record.
2. A What's Next pathways officer will be in touch - they will support you to find the right training.
You will be contacted within five working days by a What's Next pathways officer - if you're not there when they first contact you, they will try again. The pathways officer will work with you to identify your training options, develop your individual training options plan and identify registered training organisations (RTOs) that deliver the training. They can also link you to a career assessment. You can book a follow-up appointment if you want more advice and support before you make a decision.
The What's Next pathways officer will work with you to determine:
- whether there are any enrolment fees for your training (some programs are already fully subsidised and attract no student co-contribution)
- if there are additional costs associated with the training above the student co-contribution fee (e.g. uniforms, text books, equipment, occupational licensing, etc.)
- if there are any barriers that may prevent you gaining employment (e.g. industry restrictions).
You will get an email confirming the qualification you can enrol in and whether the fund will pay for any additional costs associated with the training. You will also get a letter to give to the RTO when you enrol.
3. Start your training!
Take your approval letter to the RTO and enrol in training. The approval letter will list the qualification approved for your enrolment and include instructions for the RTO about how to claim payment from the department.
If you have approval for other training-related expenses, the What's Next support officer at Life Without Barriers will work with you to purchase the approved items you need for training. They can also link you with other community and government support that may help you while you study.
Can I appeal a decision about eligibility or funding?
You can appeal a decision made by the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT) or the What's Next pathways officer in relation to your eligibility or the allocation of funding under this initiative. The department is committed to ensuring that young people in out-of-home care are given the best opportunity to transition to training that suits their individual needs.
Appeals can be lodged with the Executive Director, Youth Transitions, via email to WhatsNextOOHC@det.qld.gov.au.
Is the What's Next OOHC Fund appropriate for all young people in out-of-home care?
No. The What's Next OOHC Fund is focused on supporting young people considering a vocational education and training pathway. If you want to enrol in university directly after school you should follow this pathway where possible. If you are seeking a university pathway you may be eligible for a Care2Achieve scholarship.
What can I study?
There are over 300 qualifications currently funded by the department through the Certificate 3 Guarantee, User Choice and Higher Level Skills programs. For more information about these qualifications, check the Queensland Skills Gateway.
If the qualification for the career you want is not on these lists, it may be able to be funded through the What's Next OOHC Fund if it's delivered by an RTO that is an approved pre-qualified supplier of Queensland Government funded training in the same industry area. Your What's Next pathways officer will help you identify a qualification and RTO that suits your needs.
In assessing provision of financial support, the What's Next pathways officer will consider how the training will be of benefit to you, including how it supports your individual training options plan, employment opportunities and career goals.
How can the fund support your training and career goals?
Once we have confirmed your eligibility you can apply to the fund for your first qualification and again if you need to complete further training. We know when you're starting out that sometimes you'll need to complete a lower level qualification to build your skills and knowledge. We also know that sometimes the job you can get right now is a stepping stone in your career and you'll need to do more training to get to the next step.
The scenarios below show how you could use the fund to support your training pathways.
Pathway to university
Piper left school at 15 before she completed Year 10 and was not able to find work. She completed a Certificate II qualification through a Skilling Queenslanders for Work program which has inspired her to go to university. Piper's not sure how she can get into uni because she didn't finish high school or what degree she could do and she doesn't have anyone to help her make these decisions.
Piper registered for the What's Next OOHC Fund, completed a career assessment and has a follow-up meeting to discuss her career assessment report. The What's Next pathways officer and Piper use her report to identify a potential career pathway and develop an individual training options plan.
Piper receives an approval letter for the first qualification identified in her individual training options plan to give to the registered training organisation when she enrols in training.
Supporting a learning pathway and occupational licensing
Mick has been offered a job as a weed sprayer with a contractor working for his local council. He needs to complete a skill set so that he can apply for a commercial operator's licence for using herbicides. Mick registers with the What's Next OOHC Fund and is approved for enrolment in the skill set. The fund also pays for Mick's commercial operator's licence after he completes his training.
Six months later Mick is enjoying his work and his employer suggested that he enrol in the Certificate III in Horticulture. When Mick and the What's Next pathways officer look at the entry requirements he finds that he will have to complete a Certificate II first because he doesn't have the two years of industry experience required for direct entry into the Certificate III.
The What's Next pathways officer approves payment of the enrolment fees and associated expenses. Mick's individual training options plan notes that the Certificate II is the pathway to the Certificate III. When Mick has completed the Certificate II, he contacts the What's Next pathways officer to get his approval letter to enrol in the Certificate III.
Changing career pathways
Tarni was unemployed for 12 months before participating in a Get Set for Work program where she completed a Certificate II in Retail Operations and was offered casual employment with a large retail chain.
Although she enjoys her work, Tarni has always wanted to work in the beauty industry and she would like to enrol in the Certificate III in Beauty Services. The owner of a salon in the shopping centre where Tarni works has offered her casual work to give her industry experience.
Tarni registers for the What's Next OOHC Fund to help her pay the enrolment, uniform and equipment fees. If her application is approved, Tarni's approval letter will specify the RTO, qualification approved and payment provisions. After Tarni sends a copy of her enrolment confirmation to the What's Next support officer at Life Without Barriers, they help her purchase her approved training expenses.
Not eligible for support
Aiden lives in Tweed Heads and applies to the What's Next OOHC Fund for support to enrol in the Diploma of Graphic Design. Aiden's application is not approved because he is not a Queensland resident and he was not in out-of-home care in Queensland. Aiden is referred to the New South Wales fee-free scholarship program.