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Dame Phyllis Frost Centre

Forensicare provides forensic mental health services at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC) for women through the Marrmak Program, an integrated mental health service which includes:

  • Marrmak Unit, a 20-bed residential unit
  • Outpatient program
  • Outreach service
  • Day program

The Marrmak program commenced in August 2007 and provides multi-disciplinary care, treatment and rehabilitation. Services provided incorporate cognitive, affective and behavioural approaches for individual and group interventions. A focus is placed on enhancing women’s strengths and skills. Forensicare staff work closely with Corrections Victoria custodial staff care staff to meet the complex needs of women participating in the Marrmak Program, and custodial staff participate in many of the activities.

Marrmak Unit

This residential program is for women –

  • in the acute phase of a serious mental illness who require ongoing, intensive care and treatment, or in the sub-acute phase and require ongoing mental health inpatient care and treatment to promote full recovery
  • assessed as high risk for self-harm/suicide related to serious mental illness
  • with age related mental illness requiring specialist mental health inpatient care and treatment

Within Marrmak Unit, Forensicare provides 24-hour intensive psychiatric care and treatment, together with assessment and observation of women who may be mentally ill and/or at risk of self-harm. The unit also provides step down services for women returning from Thomas Embling Hospital. Longer term care and treatment is provided for women who are not eligible for transfer to Thomas Embling Hospital. Short-term treatment and stabilisation of mental illness-related symptoms and behaviour is also provided to facilitate the women’s return to the mainstream prison or release to the community.

Forensicare staff provide group and individual programs, both therapeutic and behavioural, that are holistic, integrated and address multiple areas of need.

Outpatient Program

The Outpatient Program provides specialist mental health services to women prisoners requiring assessment and ongoing care while they remain accommodated in the mainstream prison. The program aims to prevent an exacerbation of symptoms that would ultimately require admission or readmission to Marrmak Unit. Group based and individual interventions are provided within the program.

Outreach Program

The Outreach Program provides specialist mental health services to women requiring assessment and ongoing case management who are unable to attend Marrmak Unit, particularly women held in Observation and Management Cells and in Protection Units.

Day Program

A six month intensive group program (40 sessions), providing a range of behavioural treatment programs for women with borderline personality disorders. These programs are provided to treat and manage challenging behaviours with respect to suicidality, self-harm and aggression. While the length of the program requires women to be in custody for 6 months or more, participants can be either sentenced or remanded, and can be accommodated in a management unit. Participants are also required to have an adequate literacy level (it does not meet the needs of women with an intellectual difficulty).

A range of techniques are used to achieve an increased awareness of thoughts, feelings and personal values, acceptance of difficult thoughts and emotions, tolerating distress and making wise (value based) choices during crises. Pre and post evaluations are conducted of all programs and participants to ensure ongoing improvement is achieved.

Visiting DPFC

DPFC is located at 101-201 Riding Boundary Road, Ravenhall VIC 3023. For visitor information visit the Corrections, Prisons & Parole website.