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Transition programs

A range of support and information programs are available in Victorian prisons to help prisoners prepare for release. These transition programs aim to equip prisoners with information, support and skills, to help them better manage the transition from prison to the community and cope better with life outside prison.

Programs provide a range of information relevant to each prisoner's situation, including information about parole, health discharge planning processes, employment, accessing housing and support to prepare for leaving prison.

The program information below is also available in the Transition and Reintegration Unit brochure

Transitional Assistance Program

The Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) is offered to all sentenced prisoners prior to release. TAP involves an assessment of each prisoner’s transitional needs and a series of targeted information sessions and referrals to assist with these needs. The program aims to help prepare prisoners for life outside prison.

TAP can provide referrals to Centrelink, housing support services, and drug and alcohol services as well as information in relation to employment services, legal support and Community Correctional Services.

TAP addresses the processes for leaving prison and explains how to collect property and monies and arrange travel. The program also helps participants consider the changes that may have occurred while they have been in custody, such as changes in significant relationships with family, friends or a partner, changes in the community and changes in technology.

Prisoners wishing to find out more about TAP should ask the TAP coordinator or prison staff.

Read the Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) brochure (in English or Vietnamese).

Intensive Transitional Support Programs

Prisoners with multiple and complex needs may be eligible to participate in Intensive Transitional Support Programs (ITSPs). These programs are broad, flexible and well-being based, and are delivered by non-government service providers. Prisoners can commence these programs up to six months prior to release and continue for up to 12 months after release.

Link Out (for men)

Link Out is a voluntary program for male prisoners being released. The program provides pre- and post-release support to assist participants to prepare for their release and their transition to life in the community.

Link Out is delivered by Jesuit Social Services, (External link) Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO),(External link) Victorian Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO),(External link) and the Stepping Up Consortium (External link)

Eligibility

Prisoners must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for Link Out:

  • be serving a sentence (not available for people on remand)
  • be at increased risk of reoffending
  • have multiple and complex transitional needs
  • be willing to participate voluntarily and be actively involved

Support Services

Applicants who are assessed as eligible for Link Out are prescribed a support package and assigned a support worker. Support workers meet with the participant pre- and post-release to identify transitional needs and develop a case plan to address these needs. The case plan guides the work undertaken in the support period.

Link Out provides tailored support to assist with a range of transitional needs, including:

  • social connectedness
  • family reunification
  • drugs and alcohol
  • education, training and employment
  • housing*
  • cultural matters
  • general healthcare
  • mental health
  • disabilities and acquired brain injury
  • legal issues

*Although Link Out can provide housing support and referral, it is not a housing program. Housing workers are located at prisons and can help with housing enquiries.

Referrals

Referrals to the program can be made at any time during a prisoner's sentence by completing a referral form. Prisoners can self-refer or prison staff can refer on a prisoner's behalf.

Read the Link Out leaflet (in English or Vietnamese).

Women's Integrated Support Program (WISP) (for women)

Women's Integrated Support Program (WISP) is a voluntary program for female prisoners being released. The program provides pre- and post-release support to assist participants to prepare for their release and to transition to life in the community.

WISP is delivered by Jesuit Social Services (External link)

Eligibility

Prisoners must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for WISP:

  • be serving a sentence (not available for people on remand)
  • be at increased risk of reoffending
  • have multiple and complex transitional needs
  • be willing to participate voluntarily and be actively involved

Support Services

Applicants who are assessed as eligible for WISP are prescribed a support package and assigned a support worker. Support workers meet with the participant pre- and post-release to identify transitional needs and develop a case plan to address these needs. The case plan guides the work undertaken in the support period.

WISP provides tailored support to assist with a range of transitional needs, including:

  • social connectedness
  • family re-unification
  • drugs and alcohol
  • education, training and employment
  • housing*
  • cultural matters
  • general healthcare
  • mental health
  • disabilities and acquired brain injury
  • legal issues

*Although WISP can provide housing support and referral, it is not a housing program. Housing workers are located at prisons and can assist with housing enquiries.

Referrals

Referrals to the program can be made at any time during a prisoner's sentence by completing a referral form. Prisoners can self-refer or prison staff can refer on prisoners' behalf.

Read the Women's Integrated Support Program (WISP) leaflet (in English or Vietnamese).

Konnect (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)

Konnect is a voluntary program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners being released. The program aims to provide a culturally-specific response to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women to prepare for their release and their transition to life in the community.

Konnect is a post-release program and is delivered by Jesuit Social Services.(External link) Pre-release support may also be available through WISP (for women) and Link Out (for men).

Eligibility

Prisoners must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for Konnect:

  • identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • be serving a sentence (not available for people on remand)
  • be at increased risk of reoffending
  • have multiple and complex transitional needs
  • be willing to participate voluntarily and be actively involved

Support services

Applicants who are assessed as eligible for Konnect are prescribed a support package and assigned a Konnect worker. Konnect workers meet with the participant to identify transitional needs and develop a case plan to address these needs. The case plan guides the work undertaken in the support period.

Konnect provides tailored support to assist with a range of transitional needs, including:

  • connection with community
  • family re-unification
  • drugs and alcohol
  • education, training and employment
  • housing*
  • cultural matters
  • general healthcare
  • mental health
  • disabilities and acquired brain injury
  • legal issues

*Although Konnect can provide housing support and referral, it is not a housing program. Housing workers are located at prisons and can assist with housing enquiries.

Konnect workers are either from Indigenous backgrounds or have experience working with people from Indigenous backgrounds. Konnect workers are familiar with program participants' cultural needs and are aware of community-based support services.

Referrals

Referrals to the program can be made at any time during a prisoner's sentence by completing a referral form. Prisoners can self-refer. Aboriginal Wellbeing and Liaison Officers and other prison staff can refer on behalf of the individual.

Read the Konnect leaflet.

Remand Release Assistance Program (formerly the Court Discharge Information Session)

The Remand Release Assistance Program is available to remand prisoners who may be discharged directly from court. There are a number of reasons why a remand prisoner may be discharged from court - they might get bail, be released for time served, may receive a Community Correction Order and so forth. A large number of people exit the criminal justice system through direct court discharge.

The absence of known release dates for remand prisoners poses a number of challenges to pre-release transition planning.

The program aims to equip individuals with information about relevant support services that may be able to help them in the event of discharge directly from court.

The Remand Release Assistance Program provides information about the following:

  • Centrelink payments and services, including the crisis payment
  • crisis accommodation
  • health services, including accessing medication
  • drug and alcohol harm minimisation
  • processes for collecting personal property and money from the prison
  • information about the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) and CREDIT/Bail support programs

Read more about available support in the  What To Do If You Are Released From Court leaflet (in English or Vietnamese), and read more here about Remand.

Corrections Victoria Housing Program

The Corrections Victoria Housing Program (CVHP) can provide housing and support to individuals who are at risk of homelessness and at increased risk of reoffending upon release from prison. The CVHP has access to transitional housing placements through arrangements with Registered Housing Agencies. Eligible applicants must be engaged with the Intensive Transitional Support Programs (ITSPs) or the Community Support Program.

The CVHP recognises the importance of stable, supported accommodation for individuals to successfully transition from prison to the community and to reduce the risk of reoffending.

The Corrections Victoria Brokerage Program (CVBP) provides financial assistance to individuals to assist with securing long-term housing outcomes.

Pip Wisdom Community Corrections Grants

The Pip Wisdom Community Corrections Grants are named after Pip Wisdom, a senior public servant in the corrections system who contributed significantly to the advancement of the role of non-government agencies in providing correctional services in Victoria.

The grants are designed to assist in the successful transition of prisoners back into the community following their release from custody. Totalling $543,000 per annum, the grants provide community agencies with funding to deliver programs and services that contribute to the Corrections Victoria reducing reoffending framework.

Grants are provided on a three yearly basis, with the most recent round of grants covering a two year and nine month period from 1 October 2013 to 30 June 2016.

Further information about the grants can be obtained by contacting the Transition and Reintegration Unit at tru@justice.vic.gov.au

Programs and services allocated grant funding 2013-2016

Muslim Connect is a pre- and post-release mentoring program for Muslim prisoners and offenders. The Islamic Council of Victoria provides this service in a number of prison locations. Participants are provided with personal, cultural and spiritual support in the final stages of their sentences and for up to two years in the community.

The African Visitation and Mentoring Program (AVAMP) matches prisoners and offenders from African nations with volunteer mentors, who provide support both in custody and after release. AVAMP is provided by Jesuit Social Services and is run in several prison locations.

The Prison Network Ministries’ Pre- and Post-release Support Program provides a range of services to women prisoners both in prison and after release. Services include practical support and assistance for women released from prison; sport, craft and cooking activities at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower Prison; 'Fun with Mum' facilitated activities for visiting children at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, and transport services for children and other family members of women prisoners.

Shine for Kids Prison Invisits Program provides activities for children of prisoners to participate in with their imprisoned parent during visits on weekends. Prison Invisits is run at Barwon Prison and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

The Transit program – delivered by the Salvation Army – provides short-term case management support to men with an acquired brain injury or intellectual disability who are being released from prison. Transit operates in the north-west metropolitan region of Melbourne.

The Bridge Employment, Support and Training (BEST) program – delivered by the YMCA - provides employment-related training and support to young prisoners aged up to 30 years at the Metropolitan Remand Centre and Marngoneet Correctional Centre. The program provides participants with work and life skills training, vocational assessment, and supported employment placements on release.

The NOVO Recovery Program – delivered by ACSO – provides a comprehensive transitional release assessment, planning and support program for women prisoners on remand who have a diagnosed mental illness (DSM Axis 1 or 2).

The Genesis Reintegration Program – delivered by Bridging Worx Incorporated – provides culturally specific pre- and post release support to Pacific Island and Maori prisoners. It focusus on a holistic model of reintegration planning, utilising the identified support system of the prisoner.