When we first met Luke, he looked imposing: tall, solid, about to come out of prison.

But we soon found out he’s shy, a little uncertain, and lives with mental health issues, including schizoaffective disorder, addiction, psychosis and delusions.

We met Luke at his first case conference, where his in-prison support workers meet with his post-release case manager to make sure he gets the continuous and considered support he deserves. He was quiet, didn’t give much detail, and answered questions mainly with simple yeses and nos.

So we changed our approach. At the second case conference, our ReConnect case manager made the effort to really build rapport with Luke. Luke told us he struggled to relate to new people, so instead of just ticking through his reintegration goals, our case manager chatted to him casually, slowly building the relationship. He offered to pick Luke up on his day of release, and Luke agreed.

Luke’s circumstances are tough, and his reintegration was no different. He was determined to stay away from the substances he’d used in the past, and from the old associates who were linked to his offending. But this made him isolated, with very few people around him for support. He was eligible for an NDIS support package, but it didn’t formally start until few weeks after his release. For weeks, Luke had nothing to do and no one to see.

But Luke’s ReConnect case manager had an idea.

The pair started going tenpin bowling together, to get Luke out of the house and into an activity. What started out as a distraction quickly became an activity both looked forward to, and they continued bowling even after Luke’s NDIS supports kicked in.

Luke joined an NDIS program called Buddies, which gave him support for tasks like home cleaning and shopping, and brought him together with a social group, and reconnected with mental health support services.

His bowling skills quickly progressed; his case manager’s… not quite as much.

Then COVID-19 presented a new challenge. While Luke had been able to spend time with new friends through Buddies—even going on a fishing trip—lockdown meant he risked being isolated again.

But his ReConnect case manager was there. He would bring his lunch to Luke’s house, and sit out the front, while Luke ate his own lunch inside. The pair were able to chat through the front door as if they were sharing a meal. Luke was disappointed that the bowling centre had shut down temporarily, but he’s continued all his NDIS supports and still maintains connections with Buddies, despite the distance. He’s saved up enough money to get his driver’s license and is proud of himself for meeting this goal.

Since his release, Luke’s faced his challenges head-on. And with creative, personalised support from a case manager who really cares about his progress, Luke’s been able to get himself on track and meet his problems with courage.

We’ve changed Luke’s name and some identifying details of his story to protect his privacy. Learn more about how our ReConnect program support people like Luke to achieve their goals.

More information about ReConnect