The Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research’s Forensic Mental Health Group’s research leads to significant benefits for clinical practice. Led by Associate Professor Ed Heffernan, the Group’s research informs service design and delivery and, ultimately, improves the experience of forensic consumers and other stakeholders. The Group prioritises the sharing of research findings with stakeholders and the wider community through publications, seminars and presentations.


  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among incarcerated Aboriginal ad Torres Strait Island Women: Improving the understanding of prevalence and treatment

Early Intervention and Prevention

  • Partners in prevention: Understanding and enhancing first responses to suicide crisis situations

Forensic Mental Health Systems and Services

  • Involuntary mental health treatment orders in Australia: A national comparison
  • Specialised police negotiation of crisis situations in Queensland – a data linkage project involving Queensland Health and Queensland Police Service
  • Police Communications Centre Mental Health Liaison Service – enhancing responses by police and mental health services to persons with mental illness in the community
  • Fitness for Trial and Fitness for Interview – a retrospective review of individuals found to be of unsound mind in Queensland
  • The use of interactive technology in custodial settings for the delivery of social and emotional well-being programs
  • Mental Health Court Liaison Services: A national benchmarking project
  • Pathways of Care: A description of the outcomes of the individuals who are assessed by the Queensland Court Liasison Service
  • Indigenous Mental Health Intervention Program: Outcomes of a specialist in-reach program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody

Partner Projects

  • Improving outcomes for people with acute mental illness in the emergency department: A data linkage study


Associate Professor Ed Heffernan

Deputy Head
Dr Elissa Waterson

Team Members
Dr Carla Meurk – Project Manager
Fiona Davidson – Senior Scientist
Dr Megan Steele – Research Scientist
Dr Luke Hearne – Research Scientist
Dr Laura Ferris – Project Manager
Elke Perdacher – Affiliate Researcher

Post Graduate Students
Bobbie Clugston
Fiona Davidson
Dr Elnike Brand

Recent Publications


Parker, S., Meurk, C., Newman, E., Fletcher, C., Swinson, I., & Dark, F. 2018. Understanding consumers’ initial expectations of community-based residential mental health rehabilitation in the context of past experiences of care: A mixed-methods pragmatic grounded theory analysis. International journal of mental health nursing. doi:10.1111/inm.12461

Parker, S., Dark, F., Newman, E., Hanley, D., McKinlay, W., & Meurk, C. (2017). Consumers’ understanding and expectations of a community-based recovery-oriented mental health rehabilitation unit: a pragmatic grounded theory analysis. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences, 110. doi:10.1017/S2045796017000749

Young, J., Heffernan, E., Borschmann, R., Ogloff, J.R.P., Spittal, M.J., Kouyoumdjian, F.G., Preen, D.B., Butler, A., Brophy, L., Crilly, J., & Kinner, S.A. 2018. Dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance use disorder and injury in adults recently released from prison: a prospective cohort study. The lancet public health. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30052-5

Clugston, B., Perrin, M., Davidson, F., Heffernan, E., Kinner, S. 2018. Prison Mental Health Services: A Comparison of Australian Jurisdictions. Griffith University and Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research. Available online.

Davidson, F. 2018. Benchmarking for Australian Mental Health Court Liaison Services, 2017. NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Offender Health. Available online


Kinchin, I., Doran, C. M., Hall, W. D., & Meurk, C. (2017). Understanding the true economic impact of self-harming behaviour. The Lancet Psychiatry, 4(12), 900-901. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30411-X

Emmerson, B., Praskova, A., Fawcett, L., Crompton, D., & Heffernan, E. (2017). Mental health services planning for G20 summit in Brisbane and assessment of impact. Australasian Psychiatry, 25(1), 60-65. doi:10.1177/1039856216671653

Davidson, F., Heffernan, E., Greenberg, D., Butler, T., & Burgess, P. (2017). Key performance indicators for Australian mental health court liaison services. Australasian Psychiatry, Available online doi:1039856217711052

Borschmann, R., Thomas, E., Moran, P., Carroll, M., Heffernan, E., Spittal, M. J., . . . Kinner, S. A. (2017). Self-harm following release from prison: A prospective data linkage study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 51(3), 250-259. doi:10.1177/0004867416640090

Borschmann, R., Young, J. T., Moran, P., Spittal, M. J., Heffernan, E., Mok, K., & Kinner, S. A. (2017). Ambulance attendances resulting from self-harm after release from prison: a prospective data linkage study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 52(10), 1295-1305. doi:10.1007/s00127-017-1383-z

Davidson, F., Heffernan, E., Greenberg, D., Waterworth, R., & Burgess, P. (2017). Mental Health and Criminal Charges: Variation in Diversion Pathways in Australia. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 1-11. doi:10.1080/13218719.2017.1327305


Davidson, F., Heffernan, E., Greenberg, D., Butler, T., & Burgess, P. (2016). A Critical Review of Mental Health Court Liaison Services in Australia: A first national survey. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 23(6), 908-921. doi:10.1080/13218719.2016.1155509

Briffa, D., Davidson, F., & Ferndale, D. (2016). An identification of the Social and Emotional Needs of People Living with Post-Lingual Hearing Loss. JADARA, 50(2), 67-88. Available online.

Green, B., Denton, M., Heffernan, E., Russell, B., Stapleton, L., & Waterson, E. (2016). From Custody to Community: Outcomes of Community-Based Support for Mentally Ill Prisoners. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 23(5), 798-808. doi:10.1080/13218719.2016.1152926

Heffernan, E., Davidson, F., Andersen, K., & Kinner, S. (2016). Substance use disorders among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody: a public health opportunity. Health & Justice, 4(1), 12. doi:10.1186/s40352-016-0044-8

Davidson, F. (2016). Key Performance Indicators for Australian Mental Health Court Liaison Services. Available online: National Mental Health Court Liaison: Performance Working Group & NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Offender Health

Mellsop, G., Choi, W. K., Every-Palmer, S., Green, B., Heffernan, E., Kachaeva, M., . . . Wang, X. (2016). Drug driven psychoses and legal responsibility or insanity in six Western Pacific nations. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 47(Supplement C), 68-73. doi:


Heffernan, E., Andersen, K., Davidson, F., & Kinner, S. A. (2015). PTSD Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Custody in Australia: Prevalence and Correlates. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28(6), 523-530. doi:10.1002/jts.22051

Davidson, F., Kovacevic, V., Cave, M., Hart, K., & Dark, F. (2015). Assessing Fitness for Trial of Deaf Defendants. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 22(1), 145-156. doi:10.1080/13218719.2014.919690

Davidson, F. (2015). Mental Health Liaison and Diversion: Court Liaison Services and Mental Health Court Programs in Australia. Available online: The Australian Centre for Research Excellence in Offender Health

Heffernan, E., Andersen, K., & Kinner, S. A. (2015). Enhancing research quality through cultural competence: a case study in Queensland prisons. Australasian Psychiatry, 23(6), 654-657. doi:10.1177/1039856215609763

Thomas, E. G., Spittal, M. J., Heffernan, E. B., Taxman, F. S., Alati, R., & Kinner, S. A. (2015). Trajectories of psychological distress after prison release: implications for mental health service need in ex-prisoners. Psychological Medicine, 46(3), 611-621. doi:10.1017/S0033291715002123

Heffernan, E., Andersen, K., Davidson, F., & Kinner, S. A. (2015). The Family Business – Improving the understanding and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among incarcerated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women. Retrieved from Melbourne: Beyondblue


Every-Palmer, S., Brink, J., Chern, T. P., Choi, W.-K., Hern-Yee, J. G., Green, B., . . . Mellsop, G. (2014). Review of psychiatric services to mentally disordered offenders around the Pacific Rim. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry, 6(1), 1-17. doi:10.1111/appy.12109

Pathé, M., Phillips, J., Perdacher, E., & Heffernan, E. (2014). The Harassment of Queensland Members of Parliament: A Mental Health Concern. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 21(4), 577-584. doi:10.1080/13218719.2013.858388

Carroll, M., Kinner, S. A., & Heffernan, E. B. (2014). Medication use and knowledge in a sample of Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38(2), 142-146. doi:10.1111/1753-6405.12203

Heffernan, E., Andersen, K., McEntyre, E., & Kinner, S. (2014). Mental Disorder and Cognitive Disability in the Criminal Justice System. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice. Western Australia: Telethon Kids Institute.


Briffe, D., Reedman, R., & Davidson, F. (2013). The role of the clinical nurse specialist in deafness and mental health. Australian College of mental Health Nurses.

Ober, C., Dingle, K., Clavarino, A., Najman, J. M., Alati, R., & Heffernan, E. B. (2013). Validating a screening tool for mental health and substance use risk in an Indigenous prison population. Drug and Alcohol Review, 32(6), 611-617. doi:10.1111/dar.12063