Approximately half of all Victorian prison leavers are released into homelessness, and just one in five will secure employment. These problems are often interlinked, and exacerbated by other issues including lack of employability skills, poor mental health and addiction.

Many people leaving the criminal justice system want to work, but need a willing employer and intensive support to tackle the problems that can make holding a down a job so difficult.

In the post-COVID-19 era, it will be even more important to ensure that prisoners are not further marginalised. Research shows that being unemployed for a year nearly halves a person’s chances of ever working again, illustrating the urgency of assisting people who are about to emerge from prison into a difficult labour market.


Our solution

Second Chance Jobs is a ground-breaking project to link people with a 'job at the prison gate'. The program will work with people in the year before their release, connect them to a supportive and willing employer and walk alongside them for a year post-release.

Based on extensive local and international research and developed by Victoria’s only specialist agency for clients of the correctional system, Second Chance Jobs will be the most comprehensive employment program model ever provided to Victorian prisoner leavers.

The success of this program will rely on a number of important social changes, especially the rise of values-driven employers and the Victorian Government’s Social Procurement Framework, which now requires government contractors to meet a number of benchmarks, including the employment of “disadvantaged Victorians” such as people leaving prison.

The impact

By assisting people leaving prison into jobs, the program will provide immediate income and stable housing, and create an environment where prison leavers can develop stronger ties with their families, live fulfilling pro-social lives, and become active members of their communities. Research also shows that the kinds of higher-wage work opportunities envisaged by Second Chance Jobs produce statistically significant reductions in recidivism.

This solution will also help society as a whole: more than three-quarters of people leaving prison rely on Centrelink payments, and approximately 44 per cent return to custody within two years. This re-imprisonment costs more than $170,000 per year.

More information

VACRO is working closely with a number of organisations from the private sector, government and civil society to bring this program to life. For more information, please contact our Development Manager, Melanie Field-Pimm on [email protected]