School of Law & Justice, Edith Cowan University
Place of Publication
Joondalup, Western Australia
School of Law and Justice
Prisons offer a unique opportunity to make positive interventions not only in relation to health issues but also to address the social determinants of ill health. Even with the limited knowledge we have had in regard to the health of WA's prisoners it is apparent that prisons concentrate patients with significantly greater levels of morbidity than most other environments. It is also apparent that this concentration of morbidity parallels deficits in housing, nutrition, employment, education and family structure and is multiplied dramatically by the blight of mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse. Western Australia is unequalled in the Western World in its incarceration rates of Aboriginal Australians, where inevitably these deficits are manifestly greater than for other Australians.
The HoPE study will bring an acknowledgement and greater understanding of the state of health not only of Western Australia's prisoners but also of the challenges facing those who are most likely to be incarcerated due to socio-economic and health factors.
Armed with that knowledge and understanding, progress to address the issues prior to offending must be a priority beside the creation of greater capacity within Prisoner Health Services.