Making visible the invisible: Aboriginal forensic mental health [2017]

The health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia remains a crucial priority to address because the burden of disease and injury in the Aboriginal population is far higher than that for non-Aboriginal Australians. Those of us who work in Aboriginal mental health continue to experience disillusionment and frustration at systems that keep shifting responsibility for the enormous inequities in Aboriginal mental health, and consider solutions to address these inequities as viable only through political intervention and control. Nowhere are the problems more apparent than in the criminal justice system where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are grossly overrepresented, accounting for about 30% of adult prisoners in Australia although they make up only 2% of the Australian population. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians cycle between prison and the community with their needs unmet. The high rates of short-term repeated incarceration have a multitude of negative health effects for Aboriginal families, communities, and wider society.

Michael Wright, Sophie Davison, Edward Petch
The Lancet Psychiatry, September 21, 2017