JALE3924 - Mental Health and Criminal Justice

Criminology Unit


One trimester



Credit points: 



Successful completion of four(4) X level 200 units 

Mode(s) of delivery:




Unit Objective

To engage students in both a theoretical discussion and an application of ideas to develop a practical understanding of the complexity of mental health in criminal justice settings  

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the historical narrative of mental health , deinstitutionalisation and approaches to treatment of mental illness, including the role and influence of psychiatry;
  • Evaluate critically the issues raised by mental illness for criminal justice processes and systems;
  • Apply the key principles relevant to the development and implementation of mental health legislation in Australia, including comparing and contrasting approaches and policies across the states and territories;
  • Analyse critically the current approaches to mental health from policy and treatment perspectives;
  • Analyse and apply contemporary best practice principles identifying and preventing stigmatisation by the community and criminal justice sector. 

Unit Content

This unit commences with an exploration of the historical narrative involving mental health and illness, the role of psychiatry within this, and the impact deinstitutionalisation has had on the Mental Health and Criminal Justice systems in Australia. 

The unit then explores criminal justice approaches to mental health and related issues affecting the Criminal Justice System (CJS).  This includes: legislative frameworks and concepts of cognitive and mental health impairment; the prevalence of mental illness in the CJS; police management of individuals presenting with mental illness; legal defences for, and sentencing of mentally ill offenders; corrections and voluntary and involuntary admission to treatment.

The unit will then discuss and critique the current evidence-based treatment approaches used both domestically and internationally including: the prevalent categories of mental illness in the CJS; the barriers to effective treatment, and; a review of systemic issues which impact delivery of treatment.  The principles and elements common to mental health systems across Australia will be presented and reviewed, with a specific focus on treatment and management within the CJS. 

Unit Workload

1 x 2 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial each week for 12 weeks. The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week

Assessment summary

Assessment information provided at the commencement of the unit in the online class space


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of trimester.