About this research stream

Our research focuses on the assessment and treatment of people with a mental illness and history of offending. Consumers accessing forensic mental health care often experience co-occurring mental illness, problematic substance use, personality dysfunction, and social and cognitive impairment that increases the likelihood of violent or offending behaviours.

Specialist environments, systems and interventions are needed in prisons, hospitals and community settings to maintain safety while therapeutically treating the cause of offending.  

Our research examines how mental illness and responsivity factors (such as cognitive impairment, personality dysfunction and trauma) influence offending and how interventions (environments, risk prediction instruments and therapy) and workforce development models in forensic mental health settings can maximise safety, recovery and reduced offending. 

To achieve our aims, we aim to investigate and evaluate:

  • service improvement initiatives 
  • how improvements can be made by partnering with consumers and carers and promoting their journey to improve wellbeing and more meaningful lives 
  • strengthening capability and wellbeing of staff  
  • addressing the mental health and other causes of violence and complex problem behaviour
  • how to prevent inpatient aggression and violence, and reduce restrictive interventions 
  • how to address co-occurring and other factors that delay recovery progress

Key projects 

  • the development of Safewards Secure – an adjunct to Safewards specifically designed for inpatient forensic mental health services
  • the forensic mental health nursing Clinical Reasoning Cycle – a process that assists clinical decision making for forensic mental health nursing
  • the Dynamic Appraisal of Situational Aggression + Aggression Prevention Protocol (DASA + APP) – a validated risk assessment instrument to be used with the protocol which is designed to structure nursing intervention following assessment of risk using the DASA to prevent aggression and reduce the use of restrictive interventions
Our partnership with Forensicare

Our research in the area of forensic mental health benefits from our strong partnership with the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health (Forensicare).

We serve as the research arm of Forensicare, conducting independent research and facilitating their research enterprises.

This research program ensures that high quality research is undertaken to better inform clinical practice in the provision of public mental health services.

Highlighted publications 

Maguire, T., McKenna, B., & Daffern, M. (2022). Establishing best practice in violence risk assessment and violence prevention education for nurses working in mental health units. Nurse Education in Practice, 61, 103335. http://doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2022.103335  

Maguire, T., Garvey, L., Ryan, J., Levett-Jones, T., Olasoji, M., & Willetts, G. (2022). Exploring adaptations to the Clinical Reasoning Cycle for forensic mental health nursing: A qualitative enquiry. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 32(2), 544-555. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.13096

Simmons, M., Maguire, T., Ogloff, J. R. P. O., Gabriel, J., & Daffern, M. (2023). Measuring unit atmosphere with the Dynamic Appraisal of Situational Aggression and assessing the impact of unit atmosphere on violence risk assessment. Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 30(5), 942-951. http://doi:10.1111/jpm.12913

Maguire, T., Mawren, D., Ryan, J., Ennis, G., & Olasoji, M. (2023). Exploring the role of the Nurse Unit Manager in forensic mental health inpatient units: A qualitative study. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. http://doi:10.1111/inm.13208

Explore our other research programs

Contact the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science

There are many ways to engage with us. Whether you’re a student, from the media or an organisation interested in our professional development and training programs or consulting services, contact us on +61 3 9214 3887 or via cfbs@swinburne.edu.au

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