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Healthcare in prisons

Prisoners have a right to the same standards and quality of health care that are available in the community, including through access to safe and appropriate health care so that people can leave prison in better health than when they entered.

The current system is failing.


Prisoners are among those with the poorest health in our country, yet they are stripped of their access to Medicare, PBS and NDIS while in prison. This leads to poorer health outcomes and shamefully high rates of unnatural and preventable deaths. When people in prison are denied their right to proper health care, underlying physical and mental health conditions go untreated and their transition back into the community is made much more challenging.

First Peoples in this country are the most incarcerated people on the planet. The 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody made a number of recommendations to improve healthcare in prisons for First Peoples, and many of these are still not implemented. 

Better healthcare in prisons means people are less likely to die in custody, will have an easier transition back into the community, put less strain on the public health sector and be less likely to reoffend. This is not just human rights, but will also lead to better social and economic outcomes.


I am working with the federal government to improve healthcare in prisons by:
  • Allowing access to Medicare, the PBS and NDIS in prisons, while ensuring that this funding is in addition to existing funding provided by states and territories for health services in prisons.
  • Ensuring access to culturally safe and equitable healthcare to First Nations people in prisons, by supporting Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to provide in-reach services to every adult and youth prison, and by offering the Indigenous Health Check.
  • Improving access to allied health, drug and alcohol services, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, telehealth and disability services.
  • Supporting self-determined community-controlled programs that improve social and emotional wellbeing of First Peoples and their connection to culture and community.
  • Better support for people in the post-release period by ensuring continuity of healthcare, social supports and access to housing and employment.