Journey to Social Inclusion program

Supporting people to exit long-term homelessness

Catherine Harris and Anna Paris seated side by side at a table in a meeting room holding the J2SI report

J2SI takes a relationship-based approach, provides long-term support, and works from the premise that if people can sustain their housing, this provides a solid foundation to improving other areas in people's lives.

This includes improving mental health and wellbeing, resolving drug and alcohol issues, building skills, increasing connection with community and contributing to society through economic and social inclusion activity.

Phase 2

In 2018, Sacred Heart Mission is still undertaking the second phase of our Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program, which follows the pilot which ran from 2009 – 2012.

Through partnerships with VincentCare (Ozanam Community Centre) and St Mary’s House of Welcome, we are supporting 60 people who are experiencing long-term, chronic homelessness for up to three years.

J2SI takes a significant departure from existing approaches and sets a new benchmark for addressing long-term homelessness in Australia. It's different as it takes a relationship-based approach, provides long-term support, and works from the premise that if people can sustain their housing and manage their complex health issues, this provides a solid foundation to the next steps of building skills, becoming a part of the community and contributing to society.

Ultimately J2SI improves lives, reduces reliance on the service system including expensive health and emergency services, and prevents people from being incarcerated.

The pilot

The J2SI pilot, which supported 40 people over three years, delivered impressive results. A study undertaken a year after service delivery came to an end, showed 75 per cent of participants remained in stable housing after four years, 80 per cent had seen a decline in the need for health services and the pilot offered savings to government of up to $32,080 per participant.

The Australian Government acknowledged the pilot with a National Homelessness Services Award for excellence and innovation in 2013.

It has also received a Council to Homeless Persons award for excellence in ending homelessness for adults.

View the reports for the Journey to Social Inclusion pilot at our Publications page

J2SI Phase 2 builds on learnings from the pilot

Based on findings from the pilot, the program has been refined, and expanded from 40 to 60 participants and geographically beyond St Kilda to include Melbourne’s inner-north through the partnerships with St Mary’s House of Welcome and VincentCare (Ozanam Community Centre).

There are five elements of the Phase 2 service model:

  • Assertive case management and service coordination
  • Housing access and sustaining tenancies
  • Trauma-informed practice
  • Building skills for inclusion
  • Fostering independence.

The Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia is researching the impact and economic evaluations by benchmarking outcomes for J2SI participants against a group using existing services and a number of reports will be released throughout the duration of the program.

This second phase is key to demonstrating the scalability and replicability of J2SI with a view to rolling out the program in areas of high, chronic homelessness in Australia through a licensing arrangement with other agencies.

It is being funded by the Victorian Government, philanthropy and Sacred Heart Mission.

J2SI into the future

  • Sacred Heart Mission (SHM) will deliver the first Victorian Social Impact Investment (SII) with the Victorian Government, which will expand our successful and innovative Journey To Social Inclusion Program (J2SI). Read more here.
  • We are working to develop a licensing model so more people can be supported to exit long-term homelessness.
  • Our future vision is to have the J2SI program delivered by partner service providers under license across Australia.
  • A Centre of Excellence will be established to gather, analyse and disseminate evidence of the impact of J2SI in achieving an end to long-term homelessness.

Why the need for J2SI?

Long-term homelessness is a significant indicator that the service system is failing people who have complex needs. Of the 116,000 Australians who are experiencing homelessness, an estimated 25,000 are trapped in the cycles of long-term homelessness.

Our current service system is crisis orientated. It fails to address the compounding issues that result in long-term homelessness: shortage of affordable housing, ongoing unemployment, mental health issues, substance abuse, failed transitions from state care or prison, relationship breakdowns and family violence. There is also a strong connection between trauma and long-term homelessness. Many people who are long-term homeless report high levels of abuse and other traumatic experiences, often in childhood.

The current system is ill-equipped to manage the level and intensity of support required to help people exit long-term homelessness.

For each Australian who is long-term homeless, it costs the community between $900,000 and $5.5 million.*

* ‘Lifecourse Institutional Costs of Homelessness for Vulnerable Groups’, School of Social Science, University of New South Wales.

Patrick’s story

At 40 years of age, Patrick has experienced housing instability, transience and homelessness for over 20 years. He has slept rough and resided in boarding houses and supported accommodation. As a child Patrick was diagnosed with a learning disability and struggled through school. As an adult he has battled substance abuse, spent time in prison and has a history of self-harm. He has had only sporadic contact with his family, commenting that ‘they always expect me to mess up and I usually do’. Prior to J2SI he often made comments such as that failure was ‘the one thing [he] could rely on’.

Through the J2SI pilot, Patrick was supported by one caseworker over three years in the areas of housing, therapeutic services, and a skills building program helping to equip participants with life skills, reconnect with the mainstream community and build social networks outside the homeless subculture.

Since Patrick stopped receiving J2Si support in 2012 he has been residing in stable, affordable housing for over four years.

He has a dog which he adores and is in regular contact with his family. He completed a Certificate IV level course and participates in paid part-time employment. Patrick has met new people through his job and enjoys working. He pays his rent and bills, has just bought himself new furniture and no longer eats his meals at Sacred Heart Mission.

View other services

0128,000Meals served through our meals program over the last year
070959Hours contributed by our volunteers over the last year
06,476Responses at our Women’s House over the last year
Sacred Heart Mission respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we operate our services. We pay our respects to the ongoing living cultures of Aboriginal peoples, and to Elders past, present and future.
Make a donation