Mapping the prison mental health service workforce in Australia.

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australasian psychiatry : bulletin of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2020, 28, (4), pp. 442-447
Issue Date:
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The rapidly growing number of people in prison in Australia, combined with the high prevalence of mental disorder in this population, results in high demand for mental health services in prison settings. Despite their critical role as part of a national mental health response, prison mental health services (PMHS) in Australia have been poorly characterised. In this paper, we describe findings of the first national survey of PMHS in Australia.


We distributed a survey to key representatives of PMHS in all Australian states and territories in 2016.


Our method constitutes a replicable process for quantifying and comparing PMHS in Australia. We describe the structure, governance and staffing models in seven jurisdictions. When compared against international recommendations, only one Australian jurisdiction (the ACT) is funded to provide services at a level equivalent to mental health services provided in the community.


Prison mental health services in Australia are delivered by a complex mix of government, private sector and non-government services. Services appear to be severely under-resourced when compared with the available benchmarks.
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