Maryborough Correctional Centre - prison issue clothing and utensils.
Maryborough Correctional Centre - prison issue clothing and utensils. Alistair Brightman

Homelessness and mental illness rife among prisoners

MORE than one in 10 Queensland former prisoners say they have been physically assaulted in prison and one in ten have also had thoughts of self-harm in the past 12 months.

The statistics were revealed in a major new report on prisoner health across Australia.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released the report on Thursday, revealing damning statistics on homelessness, mental health and education levels among prisoners.

Prisoners were asked to fill in questionnaires over two weeks in 2018 in 62 prisons across all states except New South Wales.

Their answers showed many of them had been in prison before, at 73%, and more than half, at 54%, expected to be homeless when released.

The report revealed only 16% of prisoners had completed Year 11, and 19% had completed Year 12. A total 15% had only completed up to Year 8 and 2% had not completed any level of schooling at all.

The AIHW's report also showed Queensland's overcrowding problem isn't an isolated one.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data used in the report revealed prison populations across the country grew by 56% from 2008 to 2018.

"Over the same period, the general Australian population rose by 17%," the report said.

As of April this year, Queensland's high-security correctional centres held 8311 prisoners.

Queensland Government figures show the low security work camps, low -security sections of larger prisons and the Helana Jones centre for female prisoners held 678 prisoners.

Read the full AIHW report here.