The Journey to Social Inclusion Program (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.
How our J2SI program changes lives
Journey to Social Inclusion – ending homelessness in Australia
In this video, Sacred Heart Mission CEO Cathy Humphrey, former J2SI Program Manager Karen Lococo and Anna Paris, former Operations Manager Engagement Hubs and Individual Planned Support, talk about the J2SI program and what makes it one of the most successful initiatives to end homelessness in Australia. We also hear from Professor Paul Flatau, Director of the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia, who assessed the impact of J2SI.
Anna Paris: Often the people that we’re working with, they’ve been entrenched in long-term cycles of homelessness. They’ve often had different life issues that have impacted on them and actually worsened during their experience of homelessness – issues around drug and alcohol use, mental health or lack of connection with their friends, family, and community, often a loss of employment or inability to get back into meaningful employment and a lot of social isolation as well.
Cathy Humphrey: Our journey in terms of developing J2SI actually began a decade ago. And by and large, what we found back then is that people were cycling in and out of homelessness. Traditionally, government funds programs with kind of shorter durations, three months of support. And it’s kind of the same approach for everyone.
J2SI differentiates and says, ‘for this particular group of people who’ve experienced long-term homelessness a different approach is required.’
Karen Lococo: We work with people for up to three years. So we’re able to track them over time and really get a sense of what works for them. And if something’s not working, we can adapt the approach and we can refer them somewhere else.
Prof. Paul Flatau: Journey to Social Inclusion program is built around a holistic approach: big focus on housing; they’ve got very good health supports, recognising the mental health, physical health and drug and alcohol issues that many face.
Anna Paris: It provides a component that we call building up skills, helping people connect into the community and also get into employment or some other sort of meaningful activity.
One of the big things that we’re doing over the three years of support that J2SI provides is really looking at how do we promote independence for people so that they can move away from the homelessness service system and be part of the broader community like everyone else.
Karen Lococo: We had a guy who was sleeping wherever he could and now he’s in an apartment, he’s working full time. He’s connected with his case manager, but beyond that, he started to connect with his family again. And that’s a lot of what we’ve seen. We’ve seen people who start to feel like people again.
Prof. Paul Flatau: What we found with Journey to Social Inclusion is a long-term success. We are seeing better housing rates and that’s critical to stability and success in the future.
Cathy Humphrey: We ran a pilot of J2SI between 2009 and 2012. So that allowed us to look at what was the cost of the intervention versus the cost benefit of the actual outcome for the individual.
Prof. Paul Flatau: The cost of providing support on average is much less than the cost to the government of not providing support – particularly in the health area, but also in the justice area, particularly for younger people.
Cathy Humphrey: We think there’s an opportunity to takeJ2SI under license across Australia so that we can work in partnership with service providers through a center of excellence, to deliver J2SI to so many more Australians that are living in long-term homelessness.
Anna Paris: We are now doing the second phase of J2SI, which is scaling up and replicating with more people over a greater area and the next exciting step is to run a phase three for J2SI. And that will actually be scaled up to support 180 people over a five-year period. So we’ll actually have three intakes of 60 in year one, in year two and year three, starting from August this year. So that’s really exciting.
Cathy Humphrey: For investors, you need to understand that it is a proven credible model. We know it works and we know it delivers impacts for people. It is a safe investment.
Prof. Paul Flatau: From a stable base you can get into employment and therefore, welfare costs are reduced. And at the same time, tax increases. You’re looking at a range of benefits to government and therefore to society which are purely financial in nature. Coming from a broader economic position, I would say that society as a whole is prepared to accept a cost to providing support to seeing people in a much better position than they are.
Cathy Humphrey: I know J2SI has impacts, I know, J2SI changes lives, and it’s exciting to be part of that.
Continuous Improvement through the Phases of J2SI
J2SI has been running for over 10 years and has been piloted, refined, researched and improved in both the way it is delivered and how it is funded. J2SI is currently in its third phase.
J2SI – Phase Three (2018 – 2026)
J2SI Phase Three is currently underway and incorporates learnings from Phase Two and the Pilot as part of our practice of continuous improvement.
180 people (60 per year for three years) are 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 is demonstrating the efficacy of replicating J2SI on a larger scale (40 in original pilot to 180 participants in the SII) and paving the way for the replication of the model in other states and territories across Australia.
Across 2020, 2021 and 2022, Sacred Heart Mission exceeded its payment targets for all three cohorts of 60 participants with
- 90 per cent of J2SI clients in stable housing (and did not access crisis accommodation except for family violence reasons), and
- the use of ‘hospital bed days’ by clients cut by 60 per cent compared to before they commenced the J2SI program.
120 people (60 per year for two years) are funded by a payment by results contract with the Victorian Government with service delivery from October 2021. This contract builds on the results being achieved under the SII and does not require an external investor.
Key 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.
J2SI – Phase Two (2016-2019)
Based on findings from the Pilot, the program was refined and expanded to 60 participants from Melbourne’s inner-north, through partnerships with VincentCare (Ozanam House) and St Mary’s House of Welcome.
Our final-year evaluation, conducted by The Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia, 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% were experiencing homeless at referral, and 7% were at immediate risk of homelessness. We provided 88% of J2SI Phase Two participants with permanent housing and at the end of our three-year program 82% 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.
J2SI Phase Two was funded by the Victorian Government, philanthropy and Sacred Heart Mission.
The J2SI Pilot (2009-2012)
The J2SI Pilot was delivered to 40 clients in St Kilda, evaluated against a randomised control trial group using conventional services.
It 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% of participants remained in stable housing after four years, 80% had seen a decline in the need for health services.
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.
J2SI across Australia
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 and Territory Governments we established the J2SI Evaluation and Learning Centre (J2SI ELC) to provide homelessness services organisations access to tools, training and consultancy 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.
The traditional 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 experiencing long-term homelessness 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 experiencing 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
Criteria for participating in J2SI
Individuals who are interested to join the J2SI program need to meet all of the following criteria:
- They have been sleeping rough for a while (i.e. over a year steadily).
- They have experienced homelessness at least once a year over the past three years.
- They are currently accommodated at a crisis accommodation service or have been using Open Access services regularly for three months or more.
- They are between 25 and 65 years of age.
- They give consent to participate in the service.
How to be referred to J2SI?
If individuals meet the eligibility criteria they can speak to a Key Referral Worker for further information about J2SI:
Download our selection of research findings for detailed information about J2SI and its outcomes:
J2SI Phase Two
- Media release
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