” “We hope our work breaks the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.”
When Tegan was a teenager, she ran away from home and was supported by a social worker at college who helped her into housing.
Later, we assisted with bond for a private rental share house, and she never looked back.
Tegan is an acting senior front door worker – one of three people who support a team managing enquiries from people in housing crises.
She also works with prisoners exiting incarceration and aims to treat everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their circumstances.
Her role requires empathy, and understanding of the struggles of people in the prison community.
“After prison, having stable accommodation is crucial for successful reintegration into society, and part of my role is to make that transition as smooth as possible for (former) inmates,” she said.
Our Housing Connect Program has formed a valuable partnership with Risdon Prison, which focuses on supporting inmates gain access to secure housing and prevent homelessness upon their release.
They help 230 prisoners transitioning each year, and the feedback we often receive from these sessions is that it gives them a glimmer of hope.
“One of the ways we help inmates is through workshops on housing options while they are still incarcerated, along with providing a reference to help them secure stable housing when they’re released.”
Tegan said by creating an environment where individuals felt heard and valued, the organisation helped prisoners to successfully reintegrate into society, breaking the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.
“When we listen to their personal stories and the challenges they’ve overcome, we realise they’ve survived hardships since childhood,” she said.
“Their lives are about survival, lacking the privileges we often take for granted.
“Putting ourselves in their shoes, we question if we would have the same resilience and focus on maintaining a compassionate heart. It’s great to see that many of them express a desire to help others who have gone through similar experiences.
“We recently organised an exhibition at the prison where various social services were present.
“The prisoners appreciated the opportunity to have non-judgmental conversations and friendly interactions.
“We work with a diverse cohort of people who don’t fit neatly into guidelines. Within reason, we have a very flexible approach to clients that is very much rooted in our values.
“Often perceived as tough and burly, the inmates regularly express their gratitude for us taking the time to talk and listen to them.
“Connecting with the outside world becomes challenging, so for us, it’s about being there for them, ensuring they are heard, seen and acknowledged.”