Prisoners and Health Care: Your Rights in the ACT

A large part of being in prison is being deprived of certain liberties. Despite this, it is important to know that even though your liberties are restricted, you are still entitled to your human rights. Your right to health and proper health care and treatment is protected while you are in prison and you are entitled to the same medical treatment that you would reasonably receive out of prison.

Unfortunately, violations of rights to occur in Australian prisons, including in the ACT. If you believe a family member, friend, or your own right to health has been violated whilst in prison, we can provide you with assistance. Substandard health care is not acceptable.

In the ACT, what are your health related rights in prison?

In the ACT, there are different pieces of legislation that govern your rights in relation to health.

The Corrections Management Act 2007 regulates correctional facilities (this includes prison) in the ACT. All correctional facilities are under an obligation to comply with this act. If you are in detention in the ACT, the facility must:

  • Respect and protect your rights;
  • Ensure you are treated humanely and with decency;
  • Ensure you are not exposed to punishment (in addition to being detained)
  • Ensure your living conditions meet the minimum standards, including having access to suitable health services and facilities.

The Corrections Management Act also lists rights you have that are exclusively related to your health;

  • In prison, you must receive a standard of care that is the same as what is available to other people in the ACT;
  • Arrangements must be made to ensure you receive appropriate health services;
  • Your health and wellbeing must be supported by the prison conditions;
  • You must have access to regular health checks, hospital care if necessary, quick treatment if necessary and specialist health services as far as possible;
  • You may be transferred to an appropriate health facility (this is covered further in this article).

The ACT has the Human Rights Act 2004, which is something not all states have. This Act recognises the vulnerability of detainees, who are deprived of certain liberties, and ensures that prisoners are not exposed to further hardship or limitations while in prison. You should be treated humanely and respectfully. Refusing medical attention or failing to address deteriorating health is a violation of this.

You also are entitled to universal human rights, such as those under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which allow an appropriate standard of living for adequate health and wellbeing. This includes medical care.


For more information or to make an appointment in either our Canberra or Queanbeyan office please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Bridger or Thomas Maling:

p: +61 2 6206 1300 | e: