Health and wellbeing


Menus and nutrition

Prison menus are developed by the Food Services Manager at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and meet nutritional and portioning guidelines. Menus generally run on a 28 day cycle with changes twice a year to cater for seasonal produce.

Prison industries provide milk, bread and seasonal fruit and vegetables. Prisoners prepare the food under instruction of qualified supervisors.

Special diets

Upon admission prisoners will be asked if they have any special dietary requirements. Prisoners who identify themselves as vegetarian upon admission are eligible for the vegetarian menu option.

Prisons endeavour to provide meals for prisoners with cultural, ethnic or religious beliefs that require special food preparation. If a prisoner has a medical condition that needs a special health diet then the medical staff must prescribe it.

Eating arrangements

Prisoners are provided with an appropriate cup, plate and utensils. Meals will usually be eaten in a cell but there may be a dining room where prisoners can dine with others. Prisoners can buy food and soft drinks that are available via the canteen system.

Find out more about the canteen system.


DCS has a dedicated prison health service. Health records are kept confidentially by the SA Prison Health Service. The prison health service will only share information with DCS in special circumstances such as when the prisoner is assessed as being at risk, requires medical treatment or requires a special diet.

All prisons have a health clinic. Some prisons have a 24 hour health service, others have a nurse present until 9 pm. An on-call service is available for other times.

Doctors are available for appointments on set days. Prisoners can request a doctor's appointment by completing a prisoner health form. If a medical emergency occurs or the prisoner sustains an injury a visit from a doctor or nurse can take place.

Health records are kept confidential by the SA Prison Health Service and DCS does not have access to them.

Find out more on the SA Prison Health Service.


The medical staff will determine if hospital treatment is required and organise transport. If an ambulance is required it will be called. Correctional staff will escort at all times during the transfer.

Prisoners in hospital can make phone calls and have visitors after they have been in hospital for five consecutive days. All calls and visits must be approved by the General Manager of the prison.

The General Manager can approve earlier visits if there are compassionate grounds or extenuating circumstances.

Find out more about supporting prisoners in hospital.

Hygiene products

Feminine hygiene products are freely available where there are female prisoners.

Dental care

Dental hygiene products including tooth brushes and toothpaste are freely available. Dentist appointments can be arranged by request using the prisoner health form.

Opticians and glasses

Opticians are available by request using the prisoner health form. Glasses and contact lenses are permitted.
They might be removed if there are concerns about a prisoners safety or others.


Prisoners are not eligible for Medicare.

Health issues

Smoke free

All South Australian prisons and prison grounds are smoke free.

DCS offers a range of supports to help prisoners give up smoking.

Alcohol abuse programs

Alcohol abuse programs and groups are available to help those who are having a problem with alcohol.

Drug rehabilitation programs

Drug rehabilitation programs are also available to support and help prisoners that are suffering withdrawal symptoms and need medical help. Methadone replacement programs are available.

Group therapy and information sessions are available in some prisons. Progression to lower security classification or successful parole application may depend on participation in these programs.

Hepatitis, HIV and other blood diseases

People in prison have higher rates of blood-borne diseases than the general population. DCS educates prisoners and our staff about the risk of Hepatitis, HIV and other blood diseases.

To reduce the possibilities of passing on an infection all activities involving needles are banned. This includes sharing needles, body piercing, tattooing, sexual activities and medicines and vaccinations that require injections.

Mental health issues

DCS has a team dedicated to the mental health of prisoners.

Prisoners are assessed and asked a series of questions on arrival to prison. This allows medical staff to make an informed decision on how well the prisoner is coping with entering prison. A range of services and support is available to all prisoners.

Staff are continually looking for symptoms of depression, anxiety or evidence of self-harm. If a prisoner has worries or concerns about themselves or another prisoner they should speak with their case manager or medical staff.

A mental health assessment may be necessary. If a prisoner is detained under the Mental Health Act 2009 they will be moved to a mental health facility. This is a decision for health professionals and not corrections staff.

Preventing self-harm and suicide

Prisons have cells that are designed to reduce the risk of a prisoner attempting to self-harm or commit suicide. These cells have limited fixtures and fittings and have 24 hour cameras.

Prisoners with self harm thoughts or are worried and concerned about someone should contact any member of staff immediately.

Prisoners with physical disabilities

DCS has facilities to cater for physical disabilities. Some cells have features such as wider doors and no steps to assist with wheel chair access and poor mobility.

Prisoners with a physically disability will receive the same level of support they would receive in the community.

Physical disabilities are noted in the prisoners offender plan to ensure that they have access to the required medical and health facilities.

Aged Care

Prisons provide health and wellbeing care to elderly prisoners which is of an equivalent standard to what they would expect to receive in the community.

Transgender and intersex prisoners

DCS is committed to meeting the needs of transgender and intersex prisoners and ensuring their safety is not compromised.

Transgender prisoners will have an individualised management plan developed to take into consideration their individual needs.