Australia's National Prison Newspaper

Australia's National
Prison Newspaper

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About Time is the national newspaper for Australian prisons and detention facilities

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ISSUE NO. 1

JULY 2024

EDITIONS

JULY 2024

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ISSUE NO. 1

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Reintegration

Housing and Homelessness

By Community Restorative Centre and About Time

The Community Restorative Centre is the lead provider of specialist throughcare, post-release and reintegration programs for people transitioning from prison into the community in NSW. Contribution was also provided from employees at Victorian and Tasmanian social and community justice organisations.

Willy Pleasance

Homelessness is often the biggest worry that people have when being released from custody. A lot of people leave prison not sure of where they will live. This section gives a rough outline of how people can look for homelessness services and different types of accommodation. There are many types of housing, including temporary accommodation, residential rehabilitation services, supported accommodation, social housing and more. There is not enough housing for those who need it, and it can be a difficult and frustrating process for many people. You are not alone in this!


I am in prison and I don't have anywhere to live when I get out. What should I do?

NSW

Talk to a SAPO, case manager or a parole officer about the fact you will be homeless on release. If you are on parole, there are a limited number of short-term transitional beds (usually for up to 12 weeks) that might be options. These beds are in group settings, and have support workers attached who are there to help with reintegration and finding your feet after prison. Most of these services need Community Corrections to make a referral and have quite detailed eligibility criteria so you will need to check this out. 

There are also a number of support services (like Community Restorative Centre) that can work with you longer term to try and find some accommodation, but this can be a long-term process so it might well be that you need to find some short-term or crisis accommodation first.

There is a referral program called ‘Set to Go’ that allows you to book five nights temporary accommodation (TA) before you get out of prison. This used to be just for people on parole, but it is now available for all people in prison. If you are on parole, your community corrections officer should make the referral. If not, ask your SAPO or case manager. Sometimes people working in prisons haven’t heard of this program, so you might need to ask a few times! If you can’t get anyone inside prison to help you with this, call Community Restorative Centre on (02) 9288 8700 and they can try and work with you to get this organised before you get out.

VIC

It's a good idea to chat with a support worker or your Assessment Transition Coordinator about homelessness on release. Prior to your release, prison staff will conduct a Reintegration Assessment to determine your reintegration needs and start planning your transition back into the community. 

If you require support in a range of areas, you may be referred for an intensive transitional support program, such as ReStart and ReConnect which can support you to access housing.

There is also the Maribyrnong Community Residential Facility, a short-term accommodation site for men exiting the prison system with on-site case managers and a range of other services including physical and mental health support. There are specific eligibility criteria for this facility, with referrals made by the prison or Community Correctional Services directly to Corrections Victoria for assessment and approval.

People who are at risk of homelessness and increased risk of reoffending may access transitional housing through the Corrections Victoria Housing Program. For more information, ask a case manager/parole officer/another support worker or contact the Program Coordinator if you can at cvhousing@justice.vic.gov.au

ACT 

In the ACT, there is a specific housing service for people who are leaving AMC and don’t have anywhere to live. It’s called the Justice Housing Project and is run by St Vincent De Paul. There are ten houses, two women’s houses and eight men’s houses. People are required to live independently in shared accommodation. 

There are also many other services depending on your needs. OneLink is the centralised number for people experiencing Homelessness in the ACT. They do an intake and assess what your needs are and where it is best to place you. You can be open to your workers while in prison about your potential homelessness and they will work with OneLink and other organisations if you consent for them to do so. 

TAS 

Talk to a worker/parole officer about your need for housing. There is a significant shortage of housing in Tasmania, but they might be able to help you.

You can also speak to the Prisoners’ Legal Service for advice about any outstanding legal or other matters you may have prior to your release. Their number is 0419691846.  

A great resource to find information about community services (including housing) is FindHelp Tas, a web portal providing information and contact details for community services throughout Tasmania. You can access FindHelp Tas here: https://www.findhelptas.org.au/

There are several community housing programs operating throughout Tasmania. For example, Beyond the Wire is a service for people leaving prison at risk of homelessness. Case workers are from the Salvation Army and work with people in prison to secure housing privately or through Homes Tasmania ‘Housing Connect’ (a centralised service coordinating housing for people facing homelessness). The contact number for the Beyond the Wire program is (03) 6278 2817. 


What happens if I am released from prison and I am homeless? 

NSW

Link2Home is the main service for people who don’t have a bed for that night. Their number is 1800 152 152. Remember that it can take a long time for someone to answer the phone at Link2Home so it is a good idea to make yourself comfortable before you call. Link2Home can provide TA as well as referral to a casework service. TA can also be accessed through any NSW FACS/Housing office. 

VIC

If you’re in Victoria, you can contact 1800 825 955 (a 24-hour, statewide, free number) which will direct your call to a ‘Housing Access Point’ or housing service closest to you. Which service you can access usually depends on where you’re based in the community. 

At the Housing Access Point, the workers will complete an assessment called an IAP (‘Initial Assessment and Planning’), and you can be put on the list for crisis accommodation. Workers can also assist you to access rooming house options.

Housing Access Points have access to the Housing Establishment Fund (HEF), which can be used to fund a few nights of “Emergency Accommodation (EA)” which is often a hotel or motel. Access Points each use the funding slightly differently and may have limits on the frequency and amount of Emergency Accommodation that each person may access. 

Access Points can also assist with your social housing application if you would like to be put on the Victorian Housing Register for public housing and/or community housing. It’s important to note that the wait for social housing can be years, but workers can help you to update details on your existing application or help you to submit a priority application. 

ACT 

Contact OneLink on 1800 176 468. They have lots of information on housing services. They will do an intake with you and work out where is best for you depending on how long you need and what other supports would help you. This can also include women’s safe houses and rehabilitation services. 

For example, Winter Lodge in Ainslie is a men’s only crisis accommodation service, open in the winter months. There are up to 18 beds, and allocated on a first come first served basis. Doors shut by 8pm though, and you need to make contact before 5pm. They can be contacted on 1300 274 953.

TAS 

Contact Homes Tasmania Housing Connect on 1800 800 588. For those that need emergency accommodation for the night, the phone line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are in need of housing or at risk of homelessness, they can only be contacted Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm. You can also visit them at one of their offices in Hobart, Launceston, Devonport, Burnie or Smithton. They will do an assessment with you to see what your needs are. They can refer you to a range of housing and support services, including crisis accommodation, and also may provide brokerage support (money for things).

Women and children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness or escaping family violence can access support at McCombe House run by The Salvation Army – their contact number is (03) 6228 1099.

Bethlehem House is a short-term accommodation facility (two sites in Hobart) run by St Vincent du Paul for men experiencing homelessness, including those on parole and serving community-based sentences. Their contact number is (03) 6234 4594. 

If you are in Hobart, you can contact the Tas. Street to Home program run by The Salvation Army. This program provides crisis support to those sleeping rough. Their number is (03) 6278 2817. 

Young people can access housing support through Colony47 – they have accommodation for young people aged 12-20. The number for their youth accommodation and youth programs is 1800 265 669.

The Assistance with Care and Housing program can assist men and women over 50 years of age who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Their contact details are (03) 6270 03 or (03 6323 7500. 

I am in temporary accommodation. How long can I stay in temporary accommodation? 

Sometimes people need temporary or crisis accommodation (often known as ‘TA’) when they first get out of prison. TA usually means a short period of accommodation in a hotel or a motel.

NSW

Temporary accommodation is usually for 3 nights, with a limit of 28 nights per year. The rules around TA changed during COVID-19, and people were being granted longer periods of TA and it was easier to extend it. 

It is a good idea to check with Link2Home directly how many nights TA you currently are able to access. You can always apply to have your time extended in TA if you don’t have anywhere to live. To do this you can contact Link2Home by phone (1800 152 152), or you can email the local housing office (if you have been given this email). If you have a case worker, they can also email a support letter for extension of your TA. If you are having problems extending your TA and you don’t have anywhere to live, please call CRC on (02) 9288 8700.

VIC

If you’re in Victoria, unfortunately there’s not an exact answer to this question. As described above, homelessness services have access to the Housing Establishment Fund (HEF) which may be used to fund a few nights of emergency accommodation (EA) in a hotel or motel. This funding is subject to availability and discretion by the organisation.

ACT

It depends on the temporary accommodation someone has accessed. For example, the Justice Housing Program is a short-term program and people can sign up to a three month agreement, which can be extended. Winter lodge however, is usually one or two nights but can be extended up to seven. 

TAS 

The amount of time you are able to stay depends on the housing service. Talk to the service you’re engaged with about how long you can access support.

I am sleeping rough. How can I stay safe? What crisis services can help me?

It’s a particularly risky time to be sleeping rough after prison, so even if you don’t usually like to access Government services, it may be worth giving it a try now.

NSW

If you are in Central Sydney, you can call Missionbeat on 1800 306 461 and they can help you by transporting you to a crisis service or helping you to access TA. 

The Department of Communities and Justice has patrols that look for rough sleepers in areas where they often sleep, such as around Central Station/Belmore Park and Martin Place. They will work with you to find accommodation. 

VIC

If you have access to a phone or computer, an app or website called AskIzzy can assist you to find services nearby. This is across the state. 

In the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs, homelessness outreach workers engage with people sleeping rough to assist in finding accommodation. The response will similarly be an IAP assessment, and referral to be put on the list for crisis accommodation. They may also be able to assist with rooming house options. You can also request to be referred to receive case management support if you would benefit from more intensive support.

ACT

There are many organisations that work directly with people sleeping rough in and around the city and they often have patrols to check on people. For example, Vinnies has a Street to Home service, which offers transitional accommodation for people but also assists those on the streets. Vinnies staff often have patrols and can offer a bed for the night. They can also provide blankets etc if people don’t want housing. Street to Home can also assist with access to a doctor, support with Centrelink, counselling etc. They can be contacted through OneLink. 

TAS

For those that need emergency assistance, the Homes Tasmania Housing phone line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Services in different cities have patrols to provide assistance or accommodation for those found sleeping rough. For example, City Mission in Launceston and Burnie have emergency accommodation for those sleeping rough, and also community kitchens where people can access cheap food, showers and laundry. The contact number for City Mission is 03 6335 3000.

If you are in Hobart, you can also contact the Tas Street to Home program run by The Salvation Army. This program provides crisis support to those sleeping rough. Their number is (03) 6278 2817. 

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