16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 March 2023

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

Mapping the Prison Mental Health Service Workforce in Australia

Background: 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. Methods: In this presentation, I will describe findings of the first ever 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. Results: I will describe the structure, governance and staffing models of PMHS in seven jurisdictions. When compared against international recommendations, we found that only one Australian jurisdiction (the ACT) was funded to provide services at a level equivalent to mental health services provided in the community. Conclusions: 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 available benchmarks.


Stuart Kinner
Professor of Health Equity
, Curtin University

Stuart Kinner is Professor of Health Equity at Curtin University, an Honorary Professor at The University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and an Adjunct Professor in the Griffith Criminology Institute. For the past two decades Stuart’s research has focussed on health services and health outcomes for people who come into contact with the criminal justice system. He is experienced in multi-sectoral data linkage, cohort studies, randomised trials and other rigorous evaluation methodologies, systematic review, and meta-analysis. During his career Stuart has produced >300 publications including 200 peer-reviewed papers, and attracted >$29 million in research and evaluation funding. He Chairs Australia’s National Youth Justice Health Advisory Group, and serves on both the WHO Health in Prisons Programme (WHO-HIPP) Steering Group, and the Worldwide Prison Health Research and Engagement Network (WEPHREN) Steering Committee.