The provision of throughcare

5.43     Throughcare aims to support the successful reintegration of offenders returning to the community at the end of their head sentence—ie, prisoners released without parole. The Prison to Work report described the concept of ‘throughcare’ in the following terms:

Prisoner throughcare projects provide comprehensive case management for a prisoner in the lead up to their release from prison and throughout their transition to life outside. Projects aim to make sure prisoners receive the services they need for successful rehabilitation into the community… Good throughcare ‘starts in custody well before walking out of the prison gate’, and provides hands on, intensive support, especially at the moment of release.[60]

5.44     The Prison to Work definition emphasised the importance of intervention, service coordination, and support at all critical points—not just release.

5.45     Throughcare programs generally involve intensive one-to-one rehabilitation support; individual structured assessments; and individual case plans, created before release and followed through in the community. Throughcare models are more likely to be successful for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people if they are culturally competent, strength-based, and utilise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled organisations and/or ex-prisoner organisations.[61]

5.46     Agencies responsible for throughcare include corrective services; other law and justice agencies (such as parole authorities); government departments; and service providers who focus on specific areas such as accommodation, employment, addiction, mental health and vocational skills. The diversity and number of organisations involved means that close interagency collaboration is a key factor in the success or failure of any throughcare initiative. Close collaboration can provide for continuity of service provision as the offender moves from incarceration to supported transition to life in the community.[62]

5.47     Throughcare is currently provided by both independent and government agencies. For example:

  • the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) operates the Throughcare Support Program (TSP), which provides wraparound support and services to individuals exiting prison via a TSP officer within corrective services, case management in the community on release, and legal advice throughout;[63]

  • ACT Corrective Services provides an Extended Through Care Program (ETCP) to all sentenced detainees as well as female detainees on remand,[64] and has been shown to provide some benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.[65]

5.48     The ALRC recognises that throughcare is a growing area and that various forms currently exist. There are challenges in the provision of throughcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the difficulty of finding suitable housing;[66] and the limited availability of services in remote communities.[67]

5.49     The ALRC welcomes submissions on areas of reform in throughcare specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and any further related information.