Recommendations - Safe and humane custody

Drug and substance abuse

Recommendation No. 33

That the Queensland Government and Department of Justice and Attorney-General increase the areas in which the Drug Court operates, to ensure that the sentencing options available to it apply to all eligible female offenders across all state postcodes.

Recommendation No. 34

That access to substance abuse programs while in prison be extended to short term and remandee female prisoners wherever possible. Such programs need to be specifically designed for women and should address the needs of Indigenous women.

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Mental health issues

Recommendation No. 35

That more and improved community sentencing options be developed and supported by the Department of Corrective Services, to ensure there are properly resourced pathways to divert offenders with mental health issues from the prison system, when this is an appropriate sentencing option.

Recommendation No. 36

That the Queensland Government addresses the systemic issues in the provision of its overall services (including health, housing, police and justice) to persons with mental illness with a view to reducing the over-representation of women with mental illness in state prisons. 

Recommendation No. 37

That there be an enhancement of services for the identification and treatment of mental illness for women in custody including:

  • rehabilitation and treatment programs for all women prisoners with a mental health issue. This should account for the complex needs of some prisoners, including varying levels of cognitive capacity and the ability to provide informed consent to participation;
  • increased access to intensive care facilities for acutely mentally unwell prisoners, by improving psychiatric services generally, including the opening of additional beds in secure psychiatric medical facilities. The detention of such prisoners in the crisis support units of women's prisons is inappropriate.
  • additional support for counselling and therapeutic approaches to assist female prisoners with mental illness.
  • identifying alternative and cost-effective ways of treating personality disorders.

Recommendation No. 38

That the Department of Corrective Services puts a greater emphasis on developing and strengthening protective factors within women's prisons to mitigate against self-harm and suicide.  The proposed legislative amendments should detail that a distressed prisoner should be placed in a crisis support unit as a last resort, and only occur if the woman is a risk to other prisoners or staff.   Prisoners should not be secluded if they do not pose a risk to others.  Individual care plans should specify the measures required to manage the risk of self-harm and suicide safely, including removal to a specialist mental health facility if required.

Recommendation No. 39

That a higher level of resources and a multi-disciplinary approach be used to address substance abuse, mental health and sexual assault issues of women prisoners. In particular, a multi-disciplinary approach should make use of non-prison-based and community-based organisations with particular expertise in the areas of substance abuse, mental health and sexual assault

Recommendation No. 40

That all prison staff receive mandatory training on the identification and provision of appropriate responses to prisoners experiencing mental health problems. These skills need to be developed and maintained.

Recommendation No. 41

That the establishment and adequate resourcing of step down accommodation facilities be put in place for women with mental illness on their release from prison.

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Other health issues

Recommendation No. 42

That mobile breast screening services be provided within the prison facility on a regular basis to prisoners who are of the age group where routine screening is recommended best practice.

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Custody issues

Recommendation No. 43

That male prison officers not be assigned responsibility to conduct regular observations of women in observation units or inspections of women at night.

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