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The Role of the Support Network in Successful Reintegration

Often, we as humans think we can do it alone, especially males. And we might be able to, but as connection and community-driven beings, sharing the burden often leaves us feeling more cared for and connected. A multitude of support services, overlooked friends and family, and peers walking the same journey, can be locked behind a bias of “I’m ok” or “She will be right”. A damaging trait amongst reintegrating individuals, but a trait when worked through can single-handedly change the trajectory of one’s life.


Within this blog, we take a deep dive into the role of a reintegration support network, and how employers can play a role in helping individuals build community and purpose into their lives.


Well, what is a reintegration support network and how can they help?

A reintegration support network comprises individuals, organisations, and services that provide practical and emotional support to those reintegrating into society after incarceration. This network changes from individual to individual and is often made up of family, children, partners, friends, old employers, support services such as Reboot Australia, Vacro–Reconnect, and Jesuit Social Services. What doesn’t change is the pivotal role a support network plays in addressing various challenges faced by individuals post-release. From interviews with over 400 ex-offenders, we have found that the smaller the support network the higher the risk of reoffending. Reintegration support can be broken into two key aspects:


Emotional Support: One of the most significant aspects of a support network is emotional support. Individuals leaving incarceration often face feelings of isolation, shame, and low self-esteem. Reintegration is a change of identity and with this journey comes challenges. Having a network of supportive family, friends, mentors, and counsellors can provide much-needed emotional support throughout these hard times. Empathy and compassion are crucial ways to support someone emotionally. Making them feel seen and heard goes a long way to normalising the emotional shifts we face as humans. That said, many leaving incarceration haven’t developed the skills to feel emotions safely or have often not been supported emotionally in the best way.


Practical Support

Reintegration Barriers Social Post from Reboot Australia

Accommodation, employment, drug and alcohol counselling, cultural support, accessing healthcare, and legal support are many of the ways practical support is equally crucial in the reintegration process. Not having one of these factors covered can often be the catalyst that thrusts an individual back into the cycle of incarceration. Creating a reintegration checklist and knowing what Community organisations, government agencies, non-profits, support services and people can assist you is important. Here at Reboot, we see ourselves as the glue between the existing support service. A continuum that guides individuals through every aspect of the reintegration journey beyond employment. Above all practical support can often reduce a lot of the stress and unknowns that affect individuals emotionally.


Role of Employers

Often reintegrating individuals think they are un-hireable, leaving them feeling disconnected, disengaged, and hopeless. By providing a previously incarcerated individual with a job opportunity, you are saying that they are more than their past. You are saying that you believe in them. That society believes in them and values their contribution enough to employ them. As you can see, the role an employer plays in the reintegration support network is massive. For creating self-worth, connection/ community and purpose. Employers who provide a supportive work environment and growth opportunities can make a profound impact on the lives of these individuals.

Window cleaning team abseiling down a building

Breaking the Cycle of Recidivism

The recidivism rate is the scorecard for how well the reintegration system is working. The higher the percentage the worse the process of reintegration is. In order to reduce the statistic that 4 out of every 10 released prisoners find themselves re-convicted within 2 years of release, we need to focus more on the process of reintegration. The reintegration support network, purpose, employment, housing and the reintegration checklist at large. It needs to be a holistic approach. Otherwise, nothing changes. By providing individuals with the support they need, we can help them avoid returning to the criminal justice system. This not only benefits the individuals but also society as a whole, by reducing crime rates and building stronger, more inclusive communities.


Building a Supportive Community

It takes a community to help someone reintegrate. A collective effort from the individual, support service, reintegration employment agencies, Department of Justice, etc is the only way reintegration is successful. Gone are the days of isolated efforts. Singular companies being the only support service. It doesn’t work, and our re-offending rate shows us this. Building a supportive community is key to successful reintegration. This involves creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals seeking to rebuild their lives. By working together, we can create a society where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their past.

The silhouette of a team jumping in front of a sunset


In conclusion, the role of the support network in reintegration cannot be overstated. It is a critical component of successful reintegration and plays a significant role in helping individuals rebuild their lives after incarceration. By providing emotional and practical support, understanding the power of the employer and looking at reintegration as a process, we can help individuals overcome the challenges they face and lead fulfilling lives. Together, we can build a more supportive and inclusive society for all.

About Reboot Australia

Reboot Australia is a social enterprise Reintegration Employment company specialising in mentoring and employment for justice affected across WA, VIC, NSW and QLD. Closing the gap between industry and incarceration, we provide holistic candidate-centric support to build the resilience needed to create a life free of crime. Working in all industries across Australia, if you’re looking to hire someone with a record or find work with a record, get in touch via our Business Development Manager or register here.


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