National principles for forensic mental health survey

Closed 29 Apr 2022

Opened 14 Dec 2021


Who is this survey for?

Anyone aged 18 or over who is interested in, involved in or who has worked or currently works in the mental health and/or criminal justice system (police, court, prison).   That includes people who’ve been through court or prison and who may have or have had challenges with mental health or social and emotional wellbeing.

We’d like to acknowledge the particular effort it takes for people with personal and/or family experiences in these areas to be involved in surveys and consultations around areas like these.  We’d like to thank you upfront and please know that we value your unique lived/living perspectives and contributions.

What is this survey about?

This survey is about what principles should be in place for forensic mental health.  A principle is a kind of rule, belief or idea that guides people.  A set of forensic mental health principles forms the basis for what the system should be striving to achieve.

The purpose of this survey is to find out:

  • what people think is important about forensic mental health principles,
  • why these things are important, and
  • what people think the best set of principles for forensic mental health should include.

Who is organising this survey?

The National Mental Health Commission is funding this survey, plus several face-to-face meetings and online meetings.  This is part of a national project taking place over 2021 and 2022.  The project is being done by a national group including researchers and facilitators from the University of Melbourne, The Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Mental health Matters 2 Inc (providing lived experience input), the Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service and the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research.

What are forensic mental health services?

Forensic mental health services are for anyone who is in contact with the criminal justice system with mental health care needs.  This includes mental health services for any person:

  • arrested or detained by police
  • going to court
  • on bail on remand (in the community waiting for their trial)
  • in prison on remand (in prison waiting for their trial)
  • in prison after being sentenced
  • in the community on a community corrections order or parole
  • required to stay in a forensic mental health hospital.

It is important to recognise that forensic mental health services are only a part of the forensic mental health system.  This system includes elements of the justice system such as police, courts and corrections and other health service partners in these settings.  All of the components of the forensic system have a role to play in upholding principles of forensic mental health.

Why your views matter

Principles for forensic mental health can be very important if you are someone who is, or has been, personally involved with any of these agencies.  They are also very important if you are:

  • A family member, supporter or close friend of someone with experiences of mental health challenges and involvement with police, court or prison.
  • Someone working for mental health services
  • Someone working in the justice system (including police, court staff, prison staff, community corrections staff, forensic mental health staff)
  • Someone working in support services, such as community organisations (examples are organisations that help with housing, NDIS, social support.)
  • Someone who has experience of these services for other reasons.

Why is this survey happening?

We want to make sure that this important service system has up-to-date principles to guide it.   These principles should reflect all the expertise and experience of the people who are affected by them. 

It has been 15 years since the last set of principles was developed.  These were the 2006 National Statement of Principles for Forensic Mental Health. If you are interested in looking at the current (2006) National Statement of Principles for Forensic Mental Health you can do so here.  You do not need to do this before you do the survey.

Since the National Statement of Principles was agreed in 2006 a lot of things have changed in Australia which are important for forensic mental health.  All of these things mean that it is time we thought again about what principles should be in place for forensic mental health.

What do I need to know before I start the survey?

This survey is anonymous, so no-one will know how you answer.

It will take around 7 to 10 minutes to complete.  It asks you a bit about yourself and to tell us what you think is important about principles for forensic mental health.  You can complete some of the survey, save it and return to complete it at another time if you would like.


  • Anyone from any background


  • Health planning and strategy consultation