Are some more equal than others? Challenging the basis for prisoners’ exclusion from Medicare

Tessa M Plueckhahn, Stuart A Kinner, Georgina Sutherland and Tony G Butler
Med J Aust 2015; 203 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja15.00588
Published online: 2 November 2015

A mixed funding approach can help meet the urgent requirement for a level of health care in prison commensurate with need and equivalent to community standards

Consistent with global literature,1 prisoners in Australia experience profound health disparities relative to those who have not been incarcerated, with a disproportionate burden of mental illness, chronic and communicable diseases.2,3 Many prisoners have complex histories of disadvantage encompassing family violence, unstable housing, limited education, unemployment and economic adversity. Risky health-related behaviours including smoking, illicit drug use, harmful alcohol consumption and unsafe sexual practices are common in incarcerated populations.2

  • 1 The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 Griffith Criminology Institute and Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD
  • 3 Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC


This study was partially funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Indigenous offender health capacity building grant “From Broome to Berrima: Building Australia-wide research capacity in Indigenous offender health and health care delivery” (533546). Stuart Kinner holds an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (1078168).

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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