The Victorian Government’s funding extension for a community residential facility in Maribyrnong
that provides short term accommodation to men who would otherwise exit the prison system into
homelessness will help more vulnerable people to get their lives back on track, and reduce the
chances of re-offending, says Jesuit Social Services.
“We commend the Victorian Government on their commitment to ensuring this innovative initiative
can continue for another 12 months. This pilot began in June 2020, and we are pleased it has been
recognised as a crucial part of the post-release service mix with this funding commitment,” says
Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.
“Almost one third of people who exit the criminal justice system do so into homelessness – yet the
limited support available to them in the community means they often cycle through the system,
which is shown in Victoria’s current recidivism rate of 43 per cent. This means close to half of all
people who leave prison return within two years.
“The links between homelessness and contact with the criminal justice system are also seen in Jesuit
Social Services’ justice and crime prevention and housing and complex needs programs, where a
2019 snapshot found that 29 per cent of participants were experiencing homelessness.”
Jesuit Social Services partners with the Department of Justice and Community Safety to deliver the
Maribyrnong program, which in addition to secure accommodation, provides residents with wrap-around support such as learning and employment pathways, assistance to engage with health
services and support to secure longer-term housing.
“People exiting prison will not have the opportunities they need to turn their lives around if they
don’t have a safe roof over the heads. This program provides that and also links people in with
experienced case managers to help them identity and achieve goals, and ensure their transition to
the community is as successful as possible,” says Ms Edwards.
Feedback from participants during the first 12 months of the program’s operation has been
extremely positive. Participant Christian (not his real name) says the support of staff at the facility
has been crucial in helping him to turn his life around.
“They have not only provided me the environment to recover, but also enabled me to accelerate my
ability and hope to return to a normal life and a career,” he says.
Ms Edwards says the funding extension will support more people to turn their lives around.
“This is a simple yet effective program model that makes a tangible, positive difference not only to
the lives of vulnerable people, but also to the broader community.”
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