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Post-Prison Release: Health & Wellbeing: Home

The aim of this Guide is to link health professionals with relevant, recent information sources to address the often complex, ongoing issues related to supporting ex-prisoner health & wellbeing

Commitment to care - St Vincent's Hospital Australia

COVID-19: St Vincent Hospital's Inclusive Health Program continues to monitor the situation for vulnerable groups and is working to support our health services at the front lines. 

In line with its Mission,Values and Vision, St Vincent's Health Australia reaches out to some of the most vulnerable people in the Australian community,  

St Vincent Hospital Melbourne's Health Indepence Program (HIP) are leading an inter-agency partnership exploring a pilot model of care to improve health outcomes for people who are released from prison. This group often have complex needs and high rates of recidivism, that come with great costs to individuals and society. This partnership project provides targeted ex-prisoner support, aimed at reducing reducing recidivism rates and thereby improving health and wellbeing outcomes for this group. St Vincent's commitment to the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our community, is demonstrated by the provision of compassionate and innovative care, enabling hope for those served. 

*St Vincent's HIP delivers a coordinated, integrated and interdisciplinary health and support service with a single plan of care. Clients are enabled to be the decision makers of their care, whilst being supported through self-management to achieve their healthcare goals. This accessible program is well recognised and strongly linked to the local community and service sector. This approach enhances the client experience and improves their health, wellbeing and independence.


Improving ex-prisoner access to care

According to Toni Makkai, the Director of the Australian Insttiute of Criminology in 2006, once released from prison, many prisoners are highly likely to re-offend, and as a consequence, have a high rate of return to prison. “Of note is that within an average of 34 days post release, 64 percent of males and 37 percent of females report using illicit drugs, particularly cannabis and amphetamines”. Furthermore, Makkai states that "there are also significant levels of risky alcohol use and elevated levels of physical and mental distress”.(Toni Makkai cited in Kinner, 2006)

Makkai’s preface to the article entitled: The post-release experience of prisoners in Queensland goes on to claim that: “Within one year, 19 percent of the group had been re-incarcerated. Effective crime control strategies will ultimately fail without effective pre and post-release intervention programs designed to reduce the likelihood of re-offending among prisoners (Kinner, 2006)

This situation is costly in every sense. Costly to the health and wellbeing of ex-prisoners and costly to the community and healthcare system on many levels. Hospital emergency department presentations, admissions and re-admissions are common in this demographic. 

Luckily, there is good work being done by the Health Independence Program (HIP) at St Vincent's Hospital and other excellent prison release programs, which have been implemented since this article was written. However, there is still much to be done.

Kinner, S. (2006). The post-release experience of prisoners in Queensland. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice(325). Retrieved from

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