Breaking the cycle of crime

Jesuit Social Services adult justice programs acting general manager Suzette James Nevell, MCRF general manager Lisa Cushen and MCRF operations manager Danielle Ricciardi. (Damjan Janevski) 417192_01

Anne Parisianne

A $14.4 million state government grant will help the Maribyrnong Community Residential Facility (MCRF) to continue providing temporary housing for men leaving prison.

The MCRF has helped over 250 men since it opened in 2020, providing secure temporary housing for men who have served their sentences or qualified for parole and are ready to transition into the community.

MCRF operations manager Danielle Ricciardi said that compared to those leaving prison without similar housing support, men supported by the MCRF are 30 per cent less likely to reoffend.

The facility offers 42 single-room accommodations, shared communal facilities, living areas, a kitchen, administrative offices and outdoor areas. Before release, all residents are risk-assessed based on their offending history and behaviour.

With stable accommodation, the men can focus on long-term goals such as finding work, reuniting with family, and addressing health issues, ultimately helping them break the cycle of reoffending.

One such success story is that of Travis, a former MCRF resident.

Before his incarceration, Travis was living in a caravan park and battling a range of health and substance abuse issues that led to negative behaviours.

“Being locked up was a blessing in disguise,” he said.

After his release, Travis had no stable housing, but MCRF provided him with a place for nine months.

“Having a roof over my head and a support network to call on was a huge help. It meant I could save money and get help with CV writing, and just getting my life back on track,” Travis said.

Jesuit Social Services adult justice programs acting general manager Suzette James Nevell said the additional funding would allow the organisation to continue to provide integrated, post-release support for people existing custody to MCRF, so that men can rebuild their lives beyond the walls of the prison system.

“We know that access to stable accommodation is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to addressing some of the barriers to reintegration back into the community,” she said.

Acting Corrections Minister Jaclyn Symes said the government understood that people leaving prison are more likely to reoffend if they can’t find stable housing.

“By investing in facilities like the MCRF we are giving men leaving prison a better chance to get jobs, get healthy and break the cycle of crime – which means a safer Victoria for everyone,” she said.