Koori Prisoner Mental Health and Cognitive Function Study


The Koori prisoner mental health and cognitive function study is an initiative between the Victorian Government and the Koori community. The study uses a literature review and interviews with Koori prisoners and key stakeholders to find that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, particularly females, are exposed to high rates of social adversity, trauma and health problems across their lives. The study shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody have high rates of complex mental health and cognitive functioning problems, including 71.7% of men and 92.3% of women receiving a lifetime diagnosis of mental illness. The rates of all disorders, including psychotic illnesses, are dramatically higher than those found in the general community in Victoria. For both males and females, the most prevalent illnesses included major depressive episodes and post-traumatic stress disorder, and rates of substance abuse and dependence disorders are greatly over-represented. The study concludes there is a lack of culturally validated mental health assessment tools. There is a focus on the illness aspects of mental health instead of positive protective factors. The review recommends future studies focus on the social and emotional wellbeing of prisoners, and that culturally informed methods of mental health assessment are utilised.

Copyright Information

The copyright for this publication belongs to the State of Victoria. Inquiries about using or reproducing the resource should be directed to the copyright holder. No part may be reproduced by any process except in accordance with provisions of the Copyright Act 1968.