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ECU Criminologists develop HoPE project

Monday, 19 January 2009

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ECU criminologists Sharan Kraemer and Natalie Gately have completed a pilot study examining prisoner health in two WA Prisons; Casuarina and Bandyup. The study aims to create a way for a standardised program of health checks to be introduced into WA prisons and ultimately across the board for all Australian prisons.

The HoPE (Health of Prisoner Evaluation) Project was developed by Natalie and Sharan in response to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which found no consistent State or national review of prisoners health even though they are known to be a high-risk group.

A mental and physical health questionnaire was used to interview both indigenous and non-Indigenous male and female prisoners from urban areas. This aimed to produce an accurate profile of people within the present prison system. The questionnaire which was administered by independent researchers included sections on;

  • General health and wellbeing
  • Dental health
  • History of illness and vaccinations
  • Exercise and Injury
  • Psychiatric and psychological history
  • Suicide and self harm * Alcohol and gambling
  • Drug use and drug treatments
  • Contact with family
  • Sexual behaviour and attitudes
  • History of sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual violence
  • Smoking
  • Tattooing and body piercing.

An analysis of the data is now being made and a report written. The future of both the HoPE project and principal researchers is dependent upon funding, which is required to complete a comprehensive state-wide appraisal of WA prisoner health. For more information, contact Sharan Kraemer on s.kraemer@ecu.edu.au or Natalie Gately on n.gately@ecu.edu.au.

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