Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson
This morning, the Minister for Human Services, Jacquie Petrusma, told ABC Radio putting ex-prisoners onto a priority housing list is a "job done" by Housing Connect. Right to Information documents show that none of the 109 ex-inmates and parolees that applied for housing to Housing Connect were housed.
The fact that all 109 ex-inmates and parolees that applied for housing from Housing Connect did not get a roof over their head is an inconvenient truth being dodged. If it's not as the community sector are claiming, Minister Petrusma needs to inform Tasmanians how many ex-prisoners were housed between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2016.
The Human Services Minister’s refusal to provide the number housed suggests she doesn't know, or care.
The decision to axe the Reintegration of Ex-offenders Program was not only cold, but foolish. For every 100 people who went through the REO, there were 40 fewer crimes committed in Tasmania.
The result of this Government’s indifference to ex-prisoners is an increased risk of crime, and prioritising money to prisons instead of public housing.
Without a specialised program, ex-prisoners or eligible parolees are being put on the priority housing waiting list, which they will never get to the top of while they're incarcerated. They are faced with remaining in prison or being released into homelessness.
The average wait time, at June this year, for people on the priority housing list to successfully get accommodation was 43 weeks. This has blown out under the Hodgman Government, after the former-Minister Cassy O'Connor had the waiting list at its lowest level in a decade.
Cutting a program that cost less than $260,000 for ex-prisoners' transition into the community means people are now exiting gaol into homelessness. Funding to the REO Program should be reinstated as a matter of urgency.