Indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia

At the dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives on 9 May 2016 for a general election on 2 July 2016, the parliamentary committees of the 44th Parliament ceased to exist. Therefore inquiries that were not completed have lapsed and submissions cannot be received.  However, information about the inquiries is still available on this website. 

Information on this committee in the 45th Parliament will be presented here as soon as it is available.    


On 2 December 2015, the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report:

  1. The indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia, with particular reference to:
    1. the prevalence of imprisonment and indefinite detention of individuals with cognitive and psychiatric impairment within Australia;
    2. the experiences of individuals with cognitive and psychiatric impairment who are imprisoned or detained indefinitely;
    3. the differing needs of individuals with various types of cognitive and psychiatric impairments such as foetal alcohol syndrome, intellectual disability or acquired brain injury and mental health disorders;
    4. the impact of relevant Commonwealth, state and territory legislative and regulatory frameworks, including legislation enabling the detention of individuals who have been declared mentally-impaired or unfit to plead;
    5. compliance with Australia’s human rights obligations;
    6. the capacity of various Commonwealth, state and territory systems, including assessment and early intervention, appropriate accommodation, treatment evaluation, training and personnel and specialist support and programs;
    7. the interface between disability services, support systems, the courts and corrections systems, in relation to the management of cognitive and psychiatric impairment;
    8. access to justice for people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment, including the availability of assistance and advocacy support for defendants;
    9. the role and nature, accessibility and efficacy of programs that divert people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment from the criminal justice system;
    10. the availability of pathways out of the criminal justice system for individuals with cognitive and psychiatric impairment;
    11. accessibility and efficacy of treatment for people who are a risk of harm to others;
    12. the use and regulation of restrictive practices and their impact on individuals with cognitive and psychiatric impairment;
    13. the impact of the introduction and application of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including the ability of individuals with cognitive and psychiatric impairment to receive support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme while in detention; and
    14. the prevalence and impact of indefinite detention of individuals with cognitive and psychiatric impairment from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including the use of culturally appropriate responses.
  2. That for the purposes of this inquiry:
    1. indefinite detention includes all forms of secure accommodation of a person without a specific date of release; and
    2. this includes, but is not limited to, detention orders by a court, tribunal or under a disability or mental health act and detention orders that may be time limited but capable of extension by a court, tribunal or under a disability or mental health act prior to the end of the order.

Submissions were sought by 8 April 2016.  The reporting date is 30 July 2016.

Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3515
Fax: +61 2 6277 5829
community.affairs.sen@aph.gov.au

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Past Public Hearings

29 Apr 2016: Melbourne
23 Mar 2016: Brisbane

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Easy English Guide

Easy English guide to this inquiry (PDF 911KB)

Easy English guide to this inquiry (Word 61KB)

Easy English guide to making a submission (PDF 751KB)

Easy English guide to making a submission (Word 27KB)

Inquiry Status

Inquiry lapsed

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