CHP eNews 1 June: The revolving door of prison and homelessness


CHP eNews 2017

1 June 2017

Dear *|FNAME|*,

National Reconciliation Week

#NRW2017 #letstakethenextsteps
National Reconciliation Week is a time for celebration and recognition, but it is also time to highlight the disproportionate representation of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people within the homeless population. 
In Victoria, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up just 0.7% of the population, but 9% of the homeless population. Research has also found that they experience more complex forms of homelessness. 

The over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and associated poor post-release housing outcomes, amplify the cycle of prison, homelessness, and recidivism. This year, a report from the Human Rights Law Centre found that the incarceration of Indigenous women alone has risen by a staggering 248% in the past 25 years. 

The spirit of this year’s National Reconciliation Week is: Lets take the next steps’.  It is in that spirit that CHP hopes you join us in highlighting the great amounts of work still to be done to end Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander homelessness.

Using housing to prevent the revolving door of prison and homelessness
On 30 May CHP launched the Parity edition: ‘I Will Be Released: Post-Release and Homelessness’, with Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass, ACSO, Jesuit Social Services, The Salvation Army and VACRO.

The edition highlights the ‘revolving door’ of people cycling from prison into homelessness, and often, back into prison. Despite the fact that this phenomenon has long been recognised, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals that the problem is deepening – with 3,950 Australians having exited prison and sought help from a homelessness service in 2015-16; an increase of 54% in just three years.


The overwhelming majority of prisoners are left to find housing by their own means, meaning they are faced with the crushing reality of the current housing crisis; a market that offers just 4-in-1000 affordable properties for a single person on Newstart, and many years wait time for social housing. People leaving prison often find themselves in rooming houses and crisis accommodation, where they have no hope of getting their life back on track and place them at a higher risk of re-offending.

We can reduce rates of re-offending and simultaneously drive down homelessness by focussing on providing affordable, permanent housing.

In her address to Parity launch attendees, the Victorian Ombudsman revisited the evidence presented in her 2015 investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria. The investigation emphasised the way that a lack of support and housing contributes to poor re-integration by prisoners post-release. The report found that less than 2% of prisoners have access to transitional housing upon release, and that just 1-in-5 have any form of post-release support.

Read our blog post about the revolving door of homelessness and prison and this excellent article in The Age.

Victoria must add 1,700 new social housing dwelling per year to keep pace with population growth; academic report
A new report stemming from the Royal Commission into Family Violence has found that Victoria must add 1,700 new social housing dwellings per year for the next 20 years if it is to maintain current social housing levels.   

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The report, Victoria’s Social Housing Supply Requirements, commissioned by the Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce also went further, suggesting that Victoria must double that annual figure if low-income households, currently facing housing stress in the private rental market, are to have affordable housing.

The take-home message is that keeping social housing levels static at 3.5% of all housing stock will not reduce current alarming levels of homelessness. It’s a simple numbers problem; right now we have more people needing help than ever before and simply not enough affordable accommodation options to house them.

Read CHP’s blog post about the report here.

Supporting consumer access to the NDIS
As the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme begins, the Council to Homeless Persons has commissioned a report to identify ways in which the homelessness sector can better support people to gain access to the scheme. 
Trials of the NDIS indicated that many people experiencing homelessness, who also had complex mental health needs, faced difficulties in having their needs met within the NDIS. 

These difficulties included; a lack of knowledge of the scheme, difficulty negotiating access requirements or, not receiving or opening critical correspondence. 
The report: Homelessness and the National Disability Insurance Scheme: challenges and solutions represents a starting point for CHP’s advocacy and capacity building work relating to the NDIS.
We hope you will get actively involved in our work on the NDIS by telling us of your experiences as service providers in supporting people to access the NDIS and, what more needs to be done to improve access. 

Read the full sector bulletin on the NDIS and homelessness here.

Minister Foley at the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC)
PAEC hearings are an opportunity for MPs to ask the hard policy questions of ministers and bureaucrats – and this week was Minister for Housing Martin Foley’s turn.

The take home for us here at CHP was that Minister Foley recognised that with worsening rental affordability and, continued increases in family violence, Victoria can expect continued growth in homelessness. He told the committee that the supports need to be put in place now in order to be ready for the ever-increasing number of people walking through our doors.

CHP was pleased to hear high-level recognition of the urgency of the homelessness crisis and the need for an expansion of supports, and will continue to advocate for the resourcing to make this a reality.

J2SI Mk II Baseline Study

Sacred Heart Mission have released the Journey To Social Inclusion (J2SI) Mark Two Baseline Study. As you may remember, the initial J2SI provided a thorough evaluation of the J2SI intensive support program for those experiencing homelessness with high needs.

The Mk IIbaseline study provides an extraordinarily detailed profile of those who are experiencing homelessness in Melbourne, including life experiences, housing histories, health requirements, service usage, labour force status, drug and alcohol consumption and much more.  The study highlights that developing an understanding of the complex causes of homelessness is crucial for designing pathways out of it.

Housing stress is pushing struggling Australians into homelessness; survey
A survey of Salvation Army clients across Australia has reinforced that housing stress is pushing low-income families into homelessness and forcing many to forgo basic necessities, such as food and medical care.  The results of the Economic and Social Impact Survey have been labeled ‘a heartbreaking wake-up-call’ by the Salvation Army’s Lieutenant Colonel Winsome Merrett. 
The survey of 1,380 Salvation Army clients found that:

  • 66% of respondents are living in extreme housing stress and use more than half their income on accommodation expenses
  • 69% say getting enough food to eat is a daily challenge
  • single parents with children are the worst affected when it comes to the cost of living – surviving on just $14.35 per day.

You can read the full report here

Rooming House Outreach Programs
After 12 years of operation, the Rooming House Outreach Program run jointly by Tenants Union of Victoria and Peninsula CLC, will be de-funded from 30 June 2017. 
To date, over a dozen organisations have written to Minister for Consumer Affairs, Marlene Kairouz, and the Minister for Housing, Martin Foley, asking for the funding of specialist rooming house outreach to continue.

The program is especially important right now given the unique role it plays in supporting vulnerable people to access safe housing and in identifying and engaging with the illegal rooming house sector. The Tenants Union have identified over 75 illegal rooming houses in the past year alone through the program.
The loss of this service will undermine other work being done by the Victorian Government to bring more rooming houses into the new licensing scheme and improve safety and standards for all residents.

Instead of de-funding this specialist program, the Tenants Union is calling on Ministers Kairouz and Foley to work together to expand the program to better protect vulnerable residents and help drive real change in the rooming house sector.
Organisations are encouraged to contact Yaelle Caspi at if they would like to help advocate for this funding to continue.

Research Update: Supported Housing for Prisoners Returning to the Community
Corrections Victoria have commissioned a literature review into recidivism rates by prison leavers who receive supported housing.

The review finds that while supported housing is among the more expensive interventions that can be provided to prison leavers, it is also amongst the most effective ways to reduce recidivism, with stark results being achieved for certain cohorts.

Other findings emphasised the importance of consumer choice in housing options, and of flexible, holistic wrap-around supports for consumers to ensure that the full range of their needs are being met.

Homelessness Week 2017  

Homelessness Week 2017 will be held from the 7-13 of August. The event represents an opportunity for us to highlight the work of the sector, recognise barriers to ending homelessness in Victoria and most importantly, to recognise our consumers. 

Homelessness Week is also a chance to inform our local MPs and media about what is needed to end homelessness where we live and work. CHP is encouraging agencies and complementary services to host an event in the week prior to Homeless Persons Week to leverage a pre-Parliamentary sitting week. 

Inviting your local MP to an event prior to a parliamentary sitting week is an effective way to inform public debate about homelessness. 

If you would like to discuss hosting an event contact Damien, or for tips to get your local media along contact Lanie

A Framework for Homeless Prevention from Homeless Hub, Canada
Canadian homelessness organisation Homeless Hub have produced a research document setting out in plain language how to address homelessness through prevention, services and housing. The report:  A New Direction: A Framework for Homelessness Prevention highlights the futility of addressing homelessness after it happens and puts a new emphasis on the prevention of homelessness.  You can read it here

CHP’s top picks

Visit CHP’s what’s on page for more events and information. 

CHP Updates

Parity – Call for contributions

You are invited to contribute an article to the July edition of Parity magazine: “Poverty and Homelessness”. Contributions must be submitted by Friday 17 July 2017. FInd the contributions flyer here.  

We are also still taking contributions for the June edition: “The NDIS, Housing and Homelessness,” the final day for which you can submit is the 9th of June.  Download the contributions flier for more details or, contact Parity editor Noel.

Conferences and events

CEO Jenny Smith speaks at the Wheeler Centre

Seats to this event have SOLD OUT but you are encouraged to join us online for a lively conversation and to use #keepyourheart to show your support for real solutions to ending homelessness.  Stay tuned to @CHPVic & @Wheelercentre on the 7th of June from 6:15pm.

In a full hour of audience Q&A Jenny Smith and other homelessness experts will cover questions such as: how do we apply targeted solutions for homeless people with different needs? What is the relationship between homelessness and gentrification? How does media coverage stigmatise and entrench homelessness? What is the ‘Housing First’ theory and how does it work?

Date: 7 June 2017

Registrations Open – New speakers announced for the CHP Conference 13-14 September

Registrations are now open for this year’s Victorian homelessness conference. It’s time to get your request to attend in to your manager! You can see the program, and register on the conference website.

We are now confirming speakers and can announce that Anglicare Victoria CEO, Paul McDonald will participate in the plenary panel on leaving care. Don’t miss it, or keynote speaker: Professor Eoin O’Sullivan presentation about how a statutory right to aftercare reduced youth homelessness in Ireland. Plus, Unison CEO Michael Perusco has joined the debate team and is preparing a spirited argument against the proposition that transitional housing continues to have a role.  Watch this space for more

Early bird registration closes 17 July.  Subscribe to conference updates here

Dates: 13 & 14 September

2017 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards

Nominations are now open for the Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards. This is a great opportunity to nominate and recognise outstanding specialist homelessness services, consumers or other community members who work to end homelessness in Victoria. 

The winners will be announced at the Victorian Homelessness Conference in September. 

Check out the award categories and make your nomination here

Know your tenancy rights – Community Meetings
Aboriginal Housing Victoria is running information session for renters to attend and find out about tenancy rights and advocacy. Meetings will be held in Wathaurong and Werribee,

Wathaurong Community Meeting
When: 2 June

Werribee Community Meeting
When: 9 June

AHURI National Housing Conference
AHURI will convene the National Housing Conference 2017 – Building for better lives, in Sydney, in partnership with the NSW Department of Family and Community Services from 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2017 at the brand new International Convention Centre. With Sydney as the destination, and NSW leading the way in social housing policy reform, NHC 2017 is expected to be our biggest conference ever, with more than 1000 delegates from across the country expected to join us in Australia’s largest city.

Register:via EventBrite

CEDA – How can cities become more resilient in the face of change.
How can cities become more resilient in the face of rapid change? Join the Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne Arron Wood and other urban thought-leaders on the new opportunities to improve the health, sustainability and liveability of our urban environment.

Ahead of the 2017 World Ecocity Summit in Melbourne, CEDA invites industry and government leaders across urban planning, infrastructure, utilities, health and other sectors to explore practical and transformative ways to improve urban resilience and sustainability.

Where: Park Hyatt, 1 Parliament Square, Melbourne

The Hidden Others Short Film Competition
The Hidden Others youth homelessness film competition is for young people aged 12-24 years to create a short film on the issue of youth homelessness. It aims to raise community awareness and provide an opportunity for young people to take action whilst learning more about filmmaking. For further information, visit the Hidden Others Website, check out their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram at #hiddenothers

Entries close: Monday 31 July

Scholarship program for students at risk of homelessness
The Andrews Labor Government has announced funding for a scholarship program to assist students who are living in public or community housing or, who are at risk of homelessness, to continue their secondary education.
Applications have opened for the scholarships, which are designed to assist with school expenses such as laptops and books and are worth $1,100 each. 

Applications can be made until 30 June 2017 and teachers are encouraged to nominate eligible young people in their school or TAFE. 

For eligibility requirements and more information go to:


Download the Wodonga TAFE SHS Training Calendar

Complexities in mental health
Date: 6 June
Location: Melbourne CBD

Advanced case management
Date: 13 & 14 June
Location: Melbourne CBD

In the news – in case you missed it!

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Collingwood, Victoria 3066
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