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Mental health services at Silverwater

At Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre, the main reception centre for women, a range of services is provided for women with mental health issues. These include:

Mental Health Screening Unit (MHSU)

The MHSU is a purpose-built 10 bed unit jointly operated by CSNSW and Justice Health with the core functions to manage, assess and treat mentally ill women. The Unit has 24 hour custodial supervision and is serviced by mental health nurses 12 hours a day. A multi-disciplinary team provides assessment and developmental opportunities through management plans for all women referred to the Unit that also liaises with NSW courts via the Justice Health Court Liaison Service.

Mental Health Step Down Unit (SDU)

The Mental Health Step Down Unit is a purpose-built 10 bed unit jointly managed by CSNSW and Justice Health to accommodate and manage female offenders in accordance with their mental health management plans. The Step Down Unit is staffed by custodial staff.

Mum Shirl Unit (MSU)

The MSU is a specialised unit for female offenders with complex psychological, behavioural and personality issues. It is a 19 bed unit consisting of an 8-bed crisis unit (observation cells, stimulus deprived environment to assist with stabilisation) and an 11 bed long-term therapeutic community unit for women who are deemed high risk/high needs offenders often meeting criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder. The Unit accommodates women unable to be housed safely within mainstream services. The goal of the program is progression to mainstream services through individualised behaviour management plans and pathways, as well as post release planning. placements.

Personality & Behaviour Disorders Unit (PBDU)

The Personality & Behaviour Disorders Unit (PBDU) is a mobile team which provides training and consultation services to gaols managing complex offenders, most of whom have severe personality disorders, including BPD. The PBDU works on a functional analysis model and develops highly individualised intervention plans with the goal of behavioural stabilisation and progression to less restrictive housing environments and access to programs. The PBDU provides specialist training, supervision and consultation to staff working with offenders with personality disorder. 

The PBDU was initially developed to assist in the management of female offenders with severe BPD who had been managed in long-term restrictive housing. The work of the PBDU, coupled with the opening of the Mum Shirl Unit, has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of serious incidents of self harm, violence and the need for restrictive housing in the women's system. As a result the PBDU now provides minimal direct services in the women's system and functions primarily as a consultancy and training service for the women's centres.