Building Safer and Resilient Communities
Acknowledgement of Country
ACSO proudly acknowledges Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and their rich culture and pays respect to their Elders past and present. ACSO acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s first peoples and as the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land and water on which we rely. We recognise and value the ongoing contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to Australian life and how this enriches us.
ACSO embraces the spirit of reconciliation, working towards equality of outcomes and ensuring an equal voice for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have come in contact with the justice system.
Commitment to Inclusion
ACSO recognises the right to a safe and inclusive service without bias. ACSO is committed to the equitable treatment of its participants, employees and partners.
We believe in humanity and celebrating the diverse voices of our community through leadership, practice and policy design, to honour and embrace the diverse traditions, cultures and experiences of those we support and work alongside.
Chair and CEO message
Welcome to ACSO’s Annual Report 2021-2022.
In the past year, the organisation has successfully navigated the transition out of the impacts of COVID-19, emerging with an engaged and passionate workforce and positioned to deliver innovative services that influence much needed reform in the criminal justice system.
The 10th International Criminal Justice Conference is back in November 2022 after being cancelled in 2021. The theme, “Global Uncertainty – Building Safe and Resilient Communities” reflects the complex challenges Australia faces in evolving our criminal justice system to deliver logical and fairer outcomes that have a positive impact on individuals, families and local communities. Governments across Australia are embarking on social policy reform and investment in the areas of disability inclusion, mental health, social housing and Aboriginal reconciliation. How can these reforms succeed when people with a disability, mental illness, those experiencing homelessness and First Nations communities continue to be overrepresented in Australian prisons and youth justice centres?
State governments continue to invest more in building and operating prisons than they do in preventing people from being incarcerated. Incarceration comes at much greater financial and social cost than existing evidence and community-based rehabilitation and diversion alternatives. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a decrease in prison populations, incarceration is now increasing and the return to custody rate of 40-50% has not changed for the last 20+ years. There is broad consensus of the economic and social impacts of continued reincarceration; responding to social vulnerability in community settings is much more effective than in prison. A new approach is needed.
ACSO’s services continued to be delivered to our clients face-to-face and remotely throughout the disruptions of COVID-19 in 2021. The commissioning of new and existing contracts resulted in the cessation of the Transition to Work program in New South Wales and the commencement of the Boost program supporting young people who are subject to Family Violence Orders in Wollongong. In Victoria, as part of the mental health reforms, ACSO successfully partnered with Wellways and Albury Health and will deliver one of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Local sites based in Benalla.
We extend our appreciation to ACSO’s employees for their dedication to delivering high-quality services during the continued disruption of COVID-19, and also to the Board of Directors for their professional and compassionate stewardship of the organisation. During the past 12 months, Ms Kathleen Barker and Dr Mark Rallings retired from the ACSO Board. We also welcomed new directors, the Honourable Justice Jane Dixon and Lynn Warneke.
On behalf of the ACSO Board, executive team and our employees, we are proud to share our ACSO Annual Report 2021-2022 with you.
Vision, Values and Purpose
Our vision is for a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and prison truly is the last resort.
Our values are passion for our work, belief in humanity, integrity in all we do and innovative spirit.
Our purpose is to strengthen the wellbeing of communities by advocating for and delivering services which divert people away from the justice system.
Meet the Team Behind ACSO
Board of Directors
ACSO is proud to be governed by a board of esteemed industry stakeholders who bring decades of experience and unique insight into all facets of the justice system.
Dr Mark Rallings
The Honourable Justice Jane Dixon
Dr Danny Sullivan
Our leadership team have extensive experience in the social, criminal justice and business sectors and are passionate about making stronger, safer, thriving societies for our clients, workforce and the community as a whole.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER
CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER
Our Year in Numbers
Together we supported 32,545 Australians on their journey.
ACSO work with people at risk of entering or who have already entered the justice system. Our work supports, diverts or reintegrates people through a range of services that span the entire justice continuum, from prevention to rehabilitation.
8 forensic residential houses
1 youth recovery house
14,795 clients supported
3,584 hours delivered to CV and NDIS clients
Alcohol and Other Drugs (AoD)
16,505 people supported
1,092 people supported
221 clients supported
On average, 68% of clients achieved sustainable housing
3 states (Victoria, Queensland, NSW)
Our Strategic Achievements
ACSO continues to advocate, influence and innovate to be at the forefront of the changes Australia must see in the criminal justice system.
Advocacy and influence
Creating Safer Communities
This year, the inquiry into Victoria’s criminal justice system has been a significant step towards reducing the states’ high rates of recidivism and imprisonment. The in-depth review focused on numerous factors, with special emphasis on early intervention, the overrepresentation of vulnerable cohorts, policing, victims of crime, bail and remand, courts and sentencing, prisons and rehabilitation, and the judiciary.
In a formal submission to the review panel, ACSO drew on its more than 35-year history of working directly with people in prison, on straight release, and in longer term settings to make a number of recommendations.
Upon the inquiry’s release and tabling in Parliament on 24 March 2022, ACSO was pleased to see its input directly shape 18 of the 100 formal recommendations. ACSO was also noted in the submission by the Justice Reform Initiative as one of the key organisations that were “already making a significant difference in supporting people build pathways out of the justice system.”
ACSO continues to advocate that warehousing people in prisons is unnecessary and comes at great personal, social and economic cost with long-term solutions a critical factor to avoid people becoming trapped in the justice system and to keep communities safe.
Case Study Story
Risk, Resilience and Recovery
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to test communities across Australia, ACSO’s residential services team rose to the challenge with a flexible mindset, an unwavering commitment to clients and collaborative care – for each other.
Humans of ACSO
To support our ethos “Understand the Story. Support the Change.” we are proud to share the stories of people within our community.
"Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, and it has made me feel accepted and a part of the community."
"If I can just change the experience of one woman relating to health care, I'm happy with that."
“I’m not proud of what I did, but prison allowed me to develop some positivity in myself and for my future.”
Service Development and Impact
Innovative Design and Measurement
In 2020, ACSO embedded an Impact Logic Model, created to enable achievement of our strategic priorities, vision and purpose. Through the 2021-2022 financial year, ACSO has been undertaking work across all programs and services to embed measurement of ACSO outcomes in data collection systems. Importantly, this has contributed to the evidence base on what works for complex clients with a range of challenging barriers to community participation and engagement. Each of our programs and services has its own Program Logic Model which notes how the specific outputs and achievements of that program rolls up to common outcomes across ACSO. Utilising our Client Outcomes Survey, ACSO is able to measure our significant impact across our work with clients.
ACSO currently provides reintegration support services to people exiting custody in Victoria and Queensland. For these programs, the following data indicates a significant improvement in some outcome domains. ACSO is proud to have supported these clients to make change for the future.
Clients who reported they felt their housing was safe and stable
28% Increase Post Intervention
Clients who reported feeling connected to their family, friends and others
11% Increase Post Intervention
Clients who believe they could stop themselves from engaging in unlawful behaviours
22% Increase Post Intervention
N=586 excludes Restart participants
People, Learning, Quality and safety
This year, ACSO employed over 440 employees across 16 programs, along with our strategy and business services units.
Employment Engagement Survey
Employees who would recommend ACSO as “a great place to work”
Employees from all backgrounds believe they have equal opportunities
Employees said they are “proud to work at ACSO”
Diversity and Inclusion
ACSO Executive consists of 2 females and 3 males.
ACSO Board consists of 5 females and 5 males. Our Board Chair is female.
1:1 hours with external leadership coaches via Leadership Success
A subsidiary of ACSO, McCormack Housing provides a wraparound service model and between six to 12 months of stable accommodation for justice clients.
During the last 12 months, McCormack Housing received 84 referrals and was able to house 38 of those clients or alternately supported them via different ACSO programs. Therefore, McCormack Housing was only able to help 45% of those clients referred. This illustrates the immense unmet need that exists in this client cohort; an issue that McCormack Housing is seeking to address through its plans to obtain, develop or purchase additional premises.
Specifically, the Safe Steps program housed 10 clients over the year, and of those, eight were successfully transferred to longer term accommodation. This represents an 80% success rate in helping clients to attain sustainable housing. The Stepping Stones program (Transitional Housing) housed 26 clients during the year; 19 of them exiting into stable accommodation (family, private rentals and community housing) and seven returning to prison. The latter represented a 73% success rate in the outcome of achieving stable accommodation.
Finally, the Step Up program, funded by Corrections Victoria, is a small program with two funded houses. Through this, two clients were housed over the year and one was successful in McCormack Housing transferring the lease to him; the second client returned to jail. This represents a 50% success rate in the outcome of achieving permanent long-term housing for clients.
Overall, this was a very successful year for all McCormack Housing programs, which is a credit to the dedicated tenancy and ACSO support staff, who help these clients achieve their long-term outcomes.
Despite the continued impacts of COVID-19 and working from home challenges, ACSO managed to reach a moderate deficit in 2022, resulting in a net deficit of $.02 million (2021: $1.9 million). ACSO continues to be an organisation that uses surpluses for purpose, by reinvesting in the community, our staff and our clients.
In FY 2022, our consolidated revenue was $60.9 million (up from $57.8 million in FY 2021.)
Revenue by Source
The Revenue by Source chart indicates the level of funding ACSO has received from federal and state governments, along with other sources of revenue. This represents the fact that ACSO’s work is made possible through a wide range of contracts with government and other partnerships. As with many other organisations, COVID-19 has changed the way ACSO is operating, with increased remote service delivery and enhanced COVID-safe procedures.
Expenditure by Purpose
The Expenditure by Purpose chart shows that ACSO spends most of its revenue in service provision to clients; but it also highlights its focus on governance and risk management and the investment we continue to make on the safety and wellbeing of our employees. It underscores the risk embedded in our programs and our continued efforts made to manage that risk.
Thank you for your generosity
ACSO gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Commonwealth Government and Victorian, Queensland and New South Wales State Governments and the following agencies.