Paul was released from prison near Ballarat in early 2021 after serving a 15-year sentence. He was nervous about the prospect of release – particularly because he was leaving without a home to go to. He wanted to resettle in Mildura, where his daughter lives, but there were no affordable houses available as he prepared for his release, and he hadn’t lived independently for decades.

As Paul’s release date approached, his VACRO case manager worked with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing to find a property available in a town not too far from Mildura – but before Paul had the chance to apply, it was offered to someone else. He was deflated, but the case manager tried again – and managed to secure the property for Paul after it was declined by the other tenant. The case manager then drove to Mildura to view the property, measure rooms for furniture, and organise delivery of a fridge and furniture. Paul’s house was ready and waiting for him before he passed through the prison gate – the next hurdle was how to get him there.

Because of his long sentence, Paul had saved a small amount of money while in prison, which he could use to buy a car. His case manager worked with Paul’s prison case worker to contact the bank and arrange special clearance for his withheld cheque, which would allow him to buy his car immediately after release.

Paul’s release day finally arrive. He was anxious, but his case manager was there to help him organise clothes and a mobile phone. Everything was going to plan, until the pair went to the bank – because of COVID-19, Paul’s cheque was denied a special clearance.

His new house is in a rural area without public transport, and having a car is essential to living there. The wait for the cheque to clear meant the car he’d planned to buy had already sold by the time he got there. But Paul’s case manager was ready. He found another car for sale in Geelong, and the pair went together to inspect and test the car. The car was safe, under budget, and drove well, so Paul bought it – and his case manager went with him to VicRoads to transfer the car into his name. He was now ready for his move home.

Behind the wheel for the first time in 15 years, Paul drove slowly and carefully the freeway to Mildura – following his case manager’s car closely. They arrived safely at the property, paid Paul’s rent at the post office, collected his keys, and went to the local supermarket for his first groceries. The case manager left Paul with a furnished house, a full fridge, and emergency and crisis contact numbers if he needed support over the weekend, and said he would check in again on Monday.

When they spoke on the Monday, Paul said he was feeling relaxed and had met his neighbour. He’d made contact with his daughter over the phone, and had been to the doctor to arrange his prescriptions. Because his town is outside of VACRO’s ReConnect area, he was then transferred out of VACRO’s support into the hands of ACSO – but with the best possible start to his new life in the community after hands-on support from our team.

More information about VACRO's reintegration support