Since the age of 13, I experienced many encounters with the justice system, in part due to a culmination of childhood trauma, substance abuse and many bad decisions. By age 30 I was living on the streets and facing a count of murder. As a result of being convicted, I received a 14-year sentence, with a non-parole period of 10 years.
It wasn’t until I was getting ready to be released on parole, that I fully understood what it was going to take to change the direction of my life narrative. I had to let down barriers, and trust people if I were to successfully re-integrate back into society. So, two years my into four-year parole period, that’s exactly what I did; I tried something different, I give a little trust to my case worker, and asked for help. This was when doors started opening.
In order to get parole in Victoria, one needs secure accommodation and my case worker said I fitted the criteria for the ACSOs McCormack Housing program. An application was put in, and I was accepted. After a few meetings, I could tell that these people were there to help, something that I had never experienced before. I also fitted the criteria for ACSO’s ReConnect program and was granted NDIS funding.
There were a lot of challenges. I was released at the start of a pandemic and I also had a lot of technology to catch up on. But I established goals and had stable accommodation. These are some of the most important things that anyone needs to live a self-fulfilling life.
I’ve now successfully completed 16-months parole, secured a private rental, and live with a beautiful and loving partner. My goal now is to never to be a statistic of recidivism again.