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Journey to Social Inclusion program

Supporting people to exit long-term homelessness

A man moves into an apartment

Our innovative Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program is one of the most effective programs to end chronic homelessness in Australia. It 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.

J2SI is a rapid housing approach coupled with three years of intensive support that wraps services around each person we work with. With a strengths-based lens, J2SI places people’s needs at the centre of service delivery. It works to end homelessness, rather than simply manage it.

There are five elements of the service model:

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

Intensive support and case management is provided to improve all areas of people’s lives. This includes supports to:

  • get and stay in housing,
  • improve mental health and wellbeing,
  • resolve drug and alcohol issues,
  • build skills,
  • increase connection with the community, and
  • contribute to society through economic and social inclusion activity.

This means in addition to exiting homelessness, people are supported to improve their health and well-being, and to build the skills, independence and social connections required to experience and maintain a better quality of life.

Since its launch in 2009, the initiative has proven to create both social and economic benefits to participants, government, and the community.

Sacred Heart Mission will be prioritising all support and housing vacancies to people in emergency accommodation (hotels/motels) due to COVID-19 until further notice, as per DHHS COVID-19 Homelessness Guidelines.

Journey to Social Inclusion - Phase Three

J2SI Phase Three is currently underway and incorporates learnings from the delivery of Phase Two as part of our practice of continuous improvement.

We commenced delivery of J2SI Phase Three in August 2018, to 180 people (60 per year for three years). Our third and final iteration of J2SI Phase Three will begin in August 2020.

Phase Three is funded by a Social Impact Investment (SII) with the Victorian Government. The J2SI SII is an outcomes-based funding mechanism bringing together government, Sacred Heart Mission, philanthropy and an investor. It will demonstrate the efficacy of replicating J2SI on a larger scale (40 in original pilot to 180 participants in the SII), and pave the way for the replication of the model in other states and territories across Australia.

Key housing referral partners for J2SI Phase Three are: Launch Housing Southbank, VincentCare Ozanam House & Homeless Resource Centre, The Salvation Army Australia Flagstaff, Open Doors, and our very own Sacred Heart Mission Central, the Women’s House and Homefront Crisis Accommodation.

Journey to Social Inclusion - Phase Two

We delivered the second phase of our Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program from 2016 to 2019. It followed the pilot which ran from 2009 – 2012.

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

J2SI Phase Two was funded by the Victorian Government, philanthropy and Sacred Heart Mission.

J2SI Phase Two built on learnings from the pilot

Based on findings from the pilot, the program was refined and expanded from 40 to 60 participants and geographically beyond St Kilda to include Melbourne’s inner-north.

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

This second phase was 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.

J2SI Phase Two achieved outcomes in the areas of housing, health and employment

Our final-year evaluation found J2SI Phase Two was highly successful in supporting people to exit homelessness through access to housing.

When we started working with 60 people in 2016, 93 per cent were experiencing homeless at referral, and seven per cent were at immediate risk of homelessness.

We provided 88 per cent of J2SI Phase Two participants with permanent housing and at the end of our three-year program 82 per cent of those remained housed.

Participants also saw improved mental health, increased employment, and reduced substance use which led to a reduction in the use of public services and created significant cost savings to the State Government.

After three years, reduced use of public services by J2SI participants was estimated to have created savings to the State Government of $32,293 per person. For those who were receiving services from the current service system, the use of public services increased by $66,335 per person, meaning total comparative savings for J2SI participants was estimated to be $98,627 per person over the life of the program.

For detailed information about our Journey to Social Inclusion Phase Two, download our outcome reports:

J2SI participants say program has life-changing impact

Throughout our study, most J2SI Phase Two participants spoke highly about our program, with seven out of 10 speaking of the positive impact on their lives.

People praised the support received by case managers and their willingness to prioritise their individual needs:

  • Well, accommodation. I have got steady accommodation. [J2SI CASE MANAGER] got me a nice place and I like it. That's the biggest advantage I’ve had.
  • I’ve been there nearly three years. If you know where you're gonna lay your head every night, where you're gonna get a feed from, it does take a lot of stress out of you. It takes a lot of stress out of your life.- J2SI Phase 2 participant
  • I actually had somebody that was an advocate for myself, rather than trying to have to do everything myself. I’d be back on the streets if that was the case.” - J2SI Phase 2 participant
  • “If you get a chance to deal with them (J2SI), do it. They do nothing but help you. They don’t criticise, they don’t look down their nose. They're just there to help. That's what I like.” - J2SI Phase 2 participant.

The Journey to Social Inclusion pilot

The J2SI pilot, which supported 40 people over three years, delivered impressive results and set a new benchmark for addressing long-term homelessness in Australia. 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 the 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 into the future

Our vision is to have the J2SI program delivered by partner service providers, under license, across Australia.

To support fellow homelessness agencies to replicate J2SI with other State Governments we set up the J2SI Evaluation and Learning Centre (J2SI ELC) providing homelessness services organisations access to tools, training and consultancy to to obtain funding for and to deliver a J2SI program in their region.

Detailed information about J2SI ELC for homelessness agencies and governments is available here.

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.

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0125,929Meals served through our meals program over the last year
096,000Hours contributed by our volunteers over the last year
07,012Responses 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.
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