Offender health project

The Department of Health in consultation with key stakeholders is conducting a project to improve the governance of offender health services in Queensland.

The purpose of this project is not about centralising the delivery of offender health services but to improve the Department of Health’s oversight of offender health services in accordance with its system manager responsibilities.


In 2012 with the implementation of the national hospital and health reforms, public offender health services in Queensland were devolved to relevant Hospital and Health Services (HHSs). While the delivery of offender health services was devolved, there was no coordinated central governance arrangement established to address state-wide or systemic issues.

The importance of prisoner health

The prison population is one of the most stigmatised and socially disadvantaged groups in Australia. Typically they are poorly educated, social isolated, financially dependent and experience high levels of poor physical health, psychiatric illness and engage in risky behaviours such as tobacco use, violence, increased alcohol consumption and illicit drug use. Improving the health of prisoners is a hallmark of a just society. It is also an important public health measure given that the prisoner population moves between prisons and the wider community.

Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.

Scope and timeframes

The project will be conducted in two phases.

Phase 1 is to conduct a review of offender health services and to develop a plan to improve the governance arrangements for publicly provided offender health services. The review will be wide ranging and include matters such as: the nature of services, models of care, workforce issues, workforce safety, quality of care, service demand and funding issues. Phase 1 is expected to be completed around the middle of 2018.

Phase 2 will be the implementation of the approved plan. The timeframe for the completion of Phase 2 is contingent on the details and nature of the approved plan.

Consultation and information

Key to the success of this project will be broad and deep consultation with people and organisations who play a key role in the provision of offender health services. In relation to Phase 1, consultation will occur as part of the review and will include the identification of future options.

The project will be guided by the Offender Health Services Steering Committee Alliance (OHSSCA, pronounced “Oscar”) chaired by the Dr John Wakefield, Deputy Director-General of the Clinical Excellence Division. Membership of the steering committee is cross-sectorial and includes representatives from:

  • Hospital and Health Services
  • Queensland Corrective Services
  • Office of the Health Ombudsman
  • Health Consumers Queensland
  • The Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union

The members of OHSSCA will each play a key role in ensuring that their stakeholders are kept informed about the project as it progresses.


Project communiqués

Last updated: 18 September 2018