16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 March 2023

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

Plant a Seed

The DECO Program has been providing services to people exiting detention for over 5 years. Adopting a person centered, holistic approach, we provide intensive case management for up to 18 months’ post release. Case managers walk beside participants on their journey of recovery and growth as they rebuild their lives and connection to community and reintegrate back to a life, of their making.
Participants experience complex disadvantage, including mental illness, addiction, intellectual and physical disability, acquired brain injury, trauma, homelessness, child loss and personality disorders with limited education and employment. Participants have faced insurmountable stigma.
DECO supports participants to address these challenges by building confidence and resilience without judgement, by developing a trusting relationship between the participant and worker and ensuring that the participants health and wellbeing is stable enough to move forward on their journey of hope to independence.
Service consists of support and advocacy to reconnect families, access clinical services and the NDIS. Meet obligations with Corrections, addressing addiction, access to training and employment and appropriate housing. Support with Centrelink, developing social skills and activities, and to find meaningful purpose. We address offending behaviours, the impact of trauma and disadvantage, identity and what defines us as human beings.
DECO has a recidivism rate of 18%, profoundly lower than Canberra’s averages. Our participant base consists of 20% Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander peoples. A unique factor of the program is the team and what each individual brings with them, including lived experience is a novel approach. This program changes lives.


Jo Smith
Outreach Coordinator
, Wellways Australia

Jo has been in the community sector for over 15 years working across the AOD, Blood Bourne Virus and Mental Health sectors. Currently Jo is Coordinator of Wellway’s Outreach Programs, Detention Exit Community Mental Health Outreach Program (DECO), Women’s Transitional Accommodation Service and Carers Support Program.

Jo has been a regular speaker, member and representative of various boards, committees, working groups and peak bodies including:

 Mental Health, Justice Health, Alcohol and Drug Service, Workforce Strategy, Planning, Development and Implementation Group
 Member ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Sexual Health, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and Related Diseases (SHAHRD)
 Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Workers Group
 Community Integration Governance Group for the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) ; Government Throughcare Advisory Group
 Women’s Advisory Group; AMC
 Women’s in Prison Group; AMC
 ACT Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Strategy Evaluation Group
 President of the ACT Hepatitis C Resource Centre Board of Management
 ACT Crime Prevention and Community Safety Youth Symposium-Alcohol and Community Safety for Young People in the ACT
 ACT Territory Reference Group; ACT Diversion programs
 Winner of the 2017 ACT Mental Health Reciprocity Award
 successfully tendered for the pilot ‘throughcare’ program delivered to detainees exiting the AMC

Jo has worked with detainees and their families for many years providing support, counselling, education and advocacy services.

Jo has lived experience as a carer of a child with a mental illness, has felt the effects of generational trauma, the justice system and addiction.