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Ex-prisoners, SAAP, housing and homelessness in Australia: final report to the national SAAP coordination and development committee

Matthew Willis

Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, May 2005

Abstract

Homelessness is a social problem of significant proportions in the Australian community. Those leaving custody typically face multiple disadvantages that leave them at a heightened risk of becoming homeless. Unless these disadvantages and accommodation problems are addressed, many individuals leaving custody find their return to the community impossible to sustain, leading to high rates of re-offending and return to prison. This report seeks to examine the current state of knowledge concerning prisoners and post-release accommodation. In particular it: examines correlates and hypothesises pathways into homelessness identified in previous research and literature; recaps existing research into prisoners post-release and their housing situation; explores the relationship between the types of social disadvantage among ex-prisoners; and reviews the types of policies surrounding ex-prisoners and accommodation and in particular how Australian jurisdictions are responding to the issue of post-release homelessness. The report begins with an overview of homelessness by considering some characteristics of the homeless population, some factors that may contribute to homelessness and the pathways through which people become homeless. It then moves on to look more closely at the challenges and disadvantages ex-prisoners face in trying to return to the community and how these challenges and disadvantages may contribute to the experience of post-release homelessness.