If you grew up in foster or residential care it is unlikely you'll study at university or TAFE. That's what the statistics say, with about one per cent accessing tertiary education.
However, a new partnership aims to influence those damning numbers by offering scholarships so young care leavers can afford to study.
The Snow Foundation and the Sisters of Charity Foundation will give up to $100,000 per year for the next five years for young people living or wanting to study in the Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven, Yass, Braidwood, Goulburn, Snowy Monaro and Canberra regions.
The scholarships are for young people (aged 27 or under) with an out-of-home background (including foster care, residential care, kinship care, and/or being a ward of the State).
Sisters of Charity Foundation CEO Louise M Burton said a degree can change the trajectory of a care leavers life.
"Our scholarships provide practical support for recipients, who have all experienced complex and challenging childhoods; often experiencing feelings of abandonment, low self-esteem, neglect, abuse and having grown up in multiple homes with multiple carers or parental incarceration," she said.
In Australia, more than 45,000 children are in out-of-home care (OOHC).
Many of these children have no financial means to further their studies after high school, something the tertiary scholarship program aims to address.
Ruby is a scholarship student studying a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in journalism. She has been in and out of OOHC since the age of nine.
Despite being bullied in high school (she attended nine different schools), she always wanted to study at university.
"Young people in out-of-home care get support from the age of roughly 16 until the age of 21," she said.
"But once you're 21, you are cut off. I was like, what am I going to do with my life? I have a very basic casual job and I live off Centrelink.
"What am I going to do, how am I going to support myself, live by myself, go to uni every day?"
After some research she found the Sisters of Charity Foundation program.
"So far it has been the most amazing, supportive foundation and scholarship that I could have received because it gave me a chance to focus on my education in a way that allowed me to succeed," she said.
"I don't think I would actually be passing my units at uni with HDs (high distinctions) and distinctions if it wasn't for having the security of a scholarship."
The Sisters of Charity Foundation is now accepting 2024 applications for ACT-based students, or students wishing to study in Canberra or surrounding areas.
To apply, visit sistersofcharityfoundation.org.au/how-we-help/tertiary-scholarship-program-students and fill out an application form. Applications will be processed as soon they are submitted.