Bridging the Gap began as a pilot program in 2001 to address the lack of support and the high rates of reoffending and drug-related death among released prisoners in Victoria.
The program was an important part of the Victorian Government Drug program and the Victorian Prison Drug Strategy, as a means to reduce drug-related harm to post-release prisoners.
Bridging the Gap aimed to:
- reduce the risk of reoffending and re-imprisonment
- reduce the risk of post-release overdose and death
- minimise harm associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.
After the pilot ended in 2004, Corrections Victoria secured additional program funding for a further three years. Five agencies were contracted to provide the services until 12 October 2006, with the option to extend the agreement for a further year.
The agencies contracted to deliver Bridging the Gap were:
- Australian Community Support Organisation
- Jesuit Social Services (The Brosnan Centre)
- Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre
- Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders
- WISE Employment
Since 2007, a change in policy has led to an integrated transitional service system where the program's services have been provided as part of two new programs:
- Link Out program for male ex-prisoners
- Women's Integrated Support Program (WISP) for female ex-prisoners