University of Tasmania
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A real gap : consequences of defunding Tasmania's reintegration for ex-offenders' program

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posted on 2023-05-27, 09:04 authored by Herrlander Birgerson, E
As Australia's rates of imprisonment, and recidivism rates of returned citizens, continue to rise, it is becoming increasingly important to better understand how to support returning citizens to adequately prepare them for a life post-release and enhance their (re)integration. While recent research focuses on what we need to do to successfully support the community transition of incarcerated persons following release to reduce recidivism, current research focuses on program characteristics and what constitutes a successful program. Consequently, there appears to be a lack of research examining the impacts of removing throughcare support programs designed to successfully transition returning citizens. This exploratory study examines the consequences of removing a successful reintegration program in Tasmania ‚Äö- the Reintegration for Ex-Offenders' Program (REO) ‚Äö- run by The Salvation Army between July 2011 and July 2015, when it was defunded under the Liberal government. Using a purposive, snowball sampling approach, the study employed a qualitative methodological approach to conduct semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders involved with the REO program. The thematic analysis of the interview data demonstrates that removing a transitional and accommodation support program results in significant consequences, including suicide of returned citizens. In addition to finding a pattern of 'program churn' of funding and defunding a range of support programs for returning citizens, participants highlighted key consequences as: gap in services; lack of support and housing; loss of relationships and trust between service providers and returned citizens, as well as between organisations; loss of human resources; persons remaining in the system for longer than required; persons being released with no transitional support or accommodation, resulting in reoffending; and health implications for returning citizens and service providers. The findings of this study, therefore, have significant implications for understanding the very serious consequences of simple government decisions to defund a program in this sector.


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