The paper reflects on developments in leaving care policy and practice in Western Australia (WA) and nationally from the mid-1990s. The review of national and some international literature suggests that current Australian policy and practice shows a 'systems stuckness' that requires a more potent form of annual auditing and reporting of jurisdictional leaving care outcomes. The review of mostly Australian publications focusing on leaving care and the risk of homelessness includes reflections on recent developments in leaving care services in England, which recognise and restore relationship-based services for care leavers. Finally, the history, vision and initial impact of the Living Independently for the First Time (LIFT) Project, a case study of learning by doing, is outlined. The authors and their colleagues from the Department for Child Protection and Family Support (Midland District), Swan Emergency Accommodation (now known as Indigo Junction) and the Housing Authority of WA have collaborated to design and develop the LIFT Project. This initially unfunded action-research strategy involves inter-agency policy and practice designed to prevent homelessness of vulnerable care leavers.