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Liberals Leave Ex-Offenders Out in the Cold

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Tags: Justice, Housing, Corrections, Prisons, Homelessness, Recidivism, Parole

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson

When they axed the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Program, the Liberals promised they would improve housing and assistance for ex-inmates.  Instead, they've condemned them to extended periods of imprisonment and when they finally leave gaol, they do so without any housing support.

The REO program, run by the Salvation Army, was the only program in Tasmania to help ex-inmates find accommodation. It assisted them to move back into the community, and it dramatically reduced the likelihood of people returning to crime.

Between 1st September 2015 and 31st August 2016 none of the 109 ex-inmate housing applications, or parolees whose release was subject to securing accommodation, received housing through Housing Connect.  The worst concerns of the Salvation Army, the Tenants Union and other organisations supporting ex-offenders have been confirmed.  

In May 2015, the Attorney-General told Parliament that Housing Connect would operate an outreach service into the prison, and prisoners would have a wider access of housing options than under the REO program.  The "wider housing option” Dr Goodwin promised for ex-offenders has turned out to be homelessness.

Dr Goodwin attempted to defend the housing failure during Question Time in Parliament this morning by recycling her comments from this year and last year's Budget Estimates.  All this did was illustrate her complete ignorance of the current ex-offender housing predicament.

It's outrageous and cynical for the Liberals to stick to their line about providing improved housing programs, when not a single ex-prisoner has been able to get a house through them. 

Dr Goodwin must explain why she was unaware that not a single ex-offender's Housing Connect application has resulted in them receiving accommodation.  

The Attorney-General must also justify the unnecessary crowding at the prison that her policy causes.  At the moment, otherwise eligible parolees are detained because they haven't been assisted to find housing. 

People are being held at great expense to the taxpayer, instead of being housed and supported to change their lives.

The Attorney General needs to commit to reinstating funding for the REO program, for the sake of ex-offenders and their families, and in the interests of community safety.