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     Pictured: Fruit2Work, a social enterprise creating chances through employment for those impacted by the justice system

Preventing homelessness for those interacting with the justice system  

At StreetSmart we believe that to end homelessness we need a focus on prevention, and we need to acknowledge that interaction with the justice system and homelessness are inextricably linked. The current housing crisis, and resulting lack of service capacity, means many people are released from prison without access to basic needs, including housing, as securing a rental is virtually impossible.

More than half of people leaving prison face homelessness on release and almost half being reincarcerated within two years. Since 1975 the number of prisoners in Australia has increased by 355 per cent despite the population increasing by just 86 per cent. This has resulted in an incarceration rate of 205 per 100,000 of the adult population which places Australia as one of the fastest growing incarcerators in the world amongst other OECD countries. When people leave this system they are particularly vulnerable and recent research has shown that 1 in 2 people seeking emergency accommodation are turned away.

 “All our participants are released into our care from prison. They usually come to us with a variety of challenges such as homelessness, drug and alcohol, mental health, physical health, trauma, lack of education. We support them by providing short term accommodation with the goal of transitioning back into community into stable, secure and safe accommodation and break the cycle of returning to Prison.” – Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service in Melbourne (Naarm) 

Social disadvantage can be further exacerbated by the prison experience. Prisoners tend to possess low levels of workplace skill and education, and the addition of a custodial term to an ex-offender’s personal history further diminishes employability. Young people leaving youth detention can also become entangled in a cycle of detention and homelessness. Housing instability and homelessness are often cited as drivers of an increasing youth detention population, with young people remanded in detention due to a lack of appropriate options for accommodation.


distributed in grants


people supported through these grants


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people supported

“We know that women transitioning out of a custodial setting often struggle with finding their place back into community, and will also return to unsafe or insecure housing. ” 

Women and Mentoring (Ballarat) 

10 grants help break the cycle for those facing homelessness after leaving prison 

To break the cycle, people leaving prison need pre-release and post-release support. This is especially true for prisoners serving short sentences who may not be imprisoned long enough to receive any in-prison assistance and who are probably not subject to any formal post-release supervision. Providing safe housing solutions and support is seen as a “linchpin” to fixing the problem by many experts. Once housing is secured then accessing other supports becomes easier. 

If we are to end homelessness we must tackle these challenges and target support to particularly vulnerable cohorts, including people interacting with and leaving the justice system. We need community-led organisations and projects that are successfully breaking the cycle of incarceration and recidivism. That’s why we have supported a range of pre/post release support programs and responses.

Through our partnership with a philanthropic foundation, we have been able to plug funding gaps for 10 community organisations across Regional and Metro areas, creating immediate impact for vulnerable cohorts.

Organisation Region Grant
Big Issue StreetSoccer Metro $8,000.00
Drummond Street Metro $8,000.00
Flat Out Metro $8,000.00
First Step Metro $8,000.00
Fitted for Work Metro $8,000.00
Fruit2Work Metro $8,000.00
Homeless Law Metro $8,000.00
VALS, Baggarrook Program Metro $8,000.00
Women and Mentoring Ballarat $8,000.00
Bendigo Financial and Family Services Bendigo $8,000.00

“ Thank you again for your generous collaboration which will ensure that we can close the revolving door between prison, homelessness and the justice system for some of the most at-risk Victorians, and empower them to thrive ” 

Justice Connect 

“Women on remand have limited access to services and face an uncertain future around length of sentence, if any, or bail & release dates. We will develop a 3.5 hour Job Readiness Workshop to include Job/life planning, building for employment success, writing key selection criteria & interview preparation and practice”

– Fitted for Work in Melbourne (on Wurundjeri Country) 



The Big Issue Street Soccer Program
The Big Issue Australia (Facebook)

“Secure housing provides stability and an opportunity for our clients to move away from survival mode into a more considered phase where they can focus on medium to long-term goals. Being able to support this transition is a crucial component of the reconnect part of the program. It is also one where expenses are higher and our limited resources can often be stretched”

– Drummond Street Service in Melbourne (Naarm)
Fitted for work employees
Fitted for Work (website)

“The Big Issue women’s street soccer programs have had great success in improving the well-being of disadvantaged women, though recruitment into the program has many barriers. This grant will help us connect women released from prison, and the services and agencies that support them, with the Women’s Street Soccer Programs to increase participation, benefiting them and the community.”

The Big Issue in Melbourne (Naarm)
Drummond Street Services (website)

Our donors and supporters have once again collectively made an incredible difference for small grassroots organisations and the thousands of people they support. We are always interested in connecting with philanthropic trusts and foundations who are looking to partner for positive impact and respond to homelessness in Australia,  please reach out at partners@streetsmartaustralia.org  if this sounds like you.