Post Release Service reflects our shared humanity

Amid the continued housing crisis, finding a place to live is a key challenge for people who have been released from prison. Many find themselves homeless or forced into risky low-rent boarding houses.

From an office behind St Mary’s Church in South Brisbane, Centacare Post Release Service supports people through what can be a difficult time as they transition from prison into the community.

Centacare Post Release Service team supports people to transition from prison to the community. (L-R) Romulo Sayon, Cherelle Evans and Centacare Director Judy Norris. Photo: Mark Bowling of The Catholic Leader.

The small team supported 147 clients last year, providing case management and counselling via video link to prisoners prior to their release. The team help people navigate the experiences of incarceration and release and provide practical support for re-entering the community.

This can include help with food, clothing and accommodation, support to apply for a driver’s license and other forms of ID, compiling health records and starting a job search.

A story by The Catholic Leader reported that, last year, only a small number of clients returned to prison over a 12-month period.

Senior Mental Health Social Worker Cherelle Evans said there’s a stigma around people who have spent time in prison.

“What isn’t commonly understood, is that many of our clients are deeply traumatised people,” said Ms Evans.

“Often their criminal experience has stemmed from this deep, often childhood, trauma. When they are released and come to us for support, we find they are emotionally and spiritually exhausted from their experiences.

“As a team we say, ‘we don’t define people by their worst act’. Instead, we are here to provide the emotional, spiritual and practical support they need to re-enter the community.”

Centacare's Cherelle Evans and Romulo Sayon prepare shopping bags full of groceries for newly-released prisoners. Photo: Mark Bowling of The Catholic Leader.

Many people are released from prison into recurrent poverty. Some may have had access to support in the lead up to their release to find suitable housing and be set up with basic necessities. Others will have little or no money and possessions, may be far from their original home and may have nowhere to stay or no access to basic necessities.

Find out more about Centacare’s Post Release Service.