Key messages

  • Forensicare provides adult mental health services in Victoria for people involved in the criminal justice system.
  • Services include a 116-bed secure hospital, comprehensive community-based programs and a prison-based mental health service.
  • Forensicare also hosts an active research program.

Forensicare provides adult mental health services in Victoria for people involved in the criminal justice system, or who are at high risk of offending.

Services include a 116-bed secure hospital, comprehensive community-based programs and a prison-based mental health service.

Forensicare also hosts an active research program that generates an extensive list of publications each year.

Forensicare is the trading name for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health and is funded by the Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of Justice.

Thomas Embling Hospital

Thomas Embling Hospital is a 116-bed secure forensic mental health service in Fairfield, Melbourne.

It is a purpose-built facility that provides advanced clinical treatment and programs in a secure environment.

Most patients are from the criminal justice system and are either transferred from prison or ordered by the courts to be detained for psychiatric assessment and care.

There are three patient types in Thomas Embling Hospital:

  • forensic patients found not guilty or unfit to be tried under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997
  • security patients (prisoners) who need compulsory mental health treatment under the Mental Health Act 2014
  • civil patients of area mental health services who cannot be managed in the community and who require compulsory treatment under the Mental Health Act 2014 in a secure environment.

The hospital has seven accommodation units, including acute and continuing care, and a specialised women’s unit.

All patients at Thomas Embling Hospital have access to therapeutic programs that provide purposeful, meaningful and individually and socially valued activities.

Therapeutic programs focus on helping patients to reconstruct a positive, adaptive sense of self.

Community-based forensic services

The community forensic mental health service is the service-delivery arm of Forensicare, responsible for providing outpatient and community-based programs.

The statewide service is located in Clifton Hill, close to Thomas Embling Hospital.

The programs provided by this service are primarily for people who have a serious mental illness and have offended, or are at high risk of offending. The service also provides specialist assessment and treatment for people who present with a range of serious problem behaviours.

Most people access the service via referral from area mental health services, Corrections Victoria, courts, the adult parole board, Thomas Embling Hospital, the acute assessment unit at Melbourne Assessment Prison, other government agencies and private practitioners.

Prison-based forensic services

Forensicare provides specialist mental health services at some Victorian prisons.

These include 24-hour, seven-day services at the Melbourne Assessment Prison for men and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre for women, as well as visiting consultant services at larger publicly managed prisons.

Centre for Forensic and Behavioural Science

The Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science operates as the research arm of Forensicare.

The centre assists Forensicare to meet the legislative requirement of undertaking research and evaluation, and providing education and training under s. 330 of the Mental Health Act 2014.

The centre sits within the School of Health Sciences, in the Faculty of Health, Arts, and Design at Swinburne University of Technology, and operates under the auspices of Forensicare and Swinburne University of Technology.

It brings together academics, clinicians, researchers and students from a variety of disciplines. The specialist areas of psychiatry, psychology, social work, law, nursing, occupational therapy and epidemiology are all represented.