Last updated 2 September 2019

Factors that influence prison placement include:

  • sentenced or remand
  • geographic location
  • security classification
  • gender; transgender people may be sent to either a men’s or a women’s prison, depending on their particular circumstances, with consideration being given to factors such as whether hormone treatment or surgery has been undertaken, medical opinions and how long it has been since the person’s transition. There is a procedure that governs access to treatment and placement called the ‘transgender prisoners’, which is available from Queensland Corrective Services (QCS)
  • rehabilitation programs
  • whether protection or special care is needed.

The following reasons may result in a transfer:

  • ensure the person is accommodated according to the assessed risks and needs
  • more effectively utilise agency resources
  • provide closer family links through visitor access
  • provide medical or psychiatric treatment
  • assist graduated community access through a low security facility
  • effect more appropriate placement in emergent situations
  • complete programs
  • attend a court, parole board or tribunal hearing
  • manage protection or compatibility issues.

A work order may be granted transferring a person from a prison to a work camp. Queensland Corrective Services may also transfer a prisoner to another prison or to a place for medical or psychological examination or treatment.

A list of Queensland prisons and their locations  is available from the Queensland government.

Family connections

When placing a prisoner, consideration should also be given by QCS to maintaining the person’s family and community ties. There is a particular obligation in this respect in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. According to Recommendation 168 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which has been incorporated into the Corrective Services Regulation 2006 (Qld), Aboriginal people should be placed in a prison as close as possible to the place of residence of their family.


Some people are separated for protection purposes if they are at risk of being harmed by others. This happens for a range of reasons, including the nature of the offence, past occupation, involvement in a prison dispute or as crown witness.

A person can request to be placed on protection at any time. Queensland Corrective Services owes a duty of care to all prisoners in its custody and must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who fears physical harm from other prisoners is protected from that harm. This usually means placement in a protection unit, on a management plan or on a safety order.

Rehabilitation programs

People who have been assessed as needing rehabilitation for the crimes may be referred to a criminogenic program. Currently, programs include a range of treatment methods such as relapse prevention planning, problem solving, safety planning, mood management techniques and cognitive behaviour methods. Some programs are tailored to meet the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or adapted for people with an intellectual impairment.

Programs are only run in particular prisons, and people will sometimes face a choice between remaining close to family and support, or being transferred in order to undertake a particular program.

If a person has been assessed as needing to complete a specific program and has not completed the program, this is not enough reason to deny parole. If the program has not been completed because the prisoner is still on the waiting list, this should be considered. More information on rehabilitation programs is available from QCS.

Residential accommodation

Most high security prisons have a residential section within the secure perimeter. People in high security, who have demonstrated stable behaviour in the traditional prison cell arrangement, may be offered a place in the residential section. People in the residential section live in communal housing blocks and may prepare their own meals and manage other aspects of their own living arrangements.

Involuntary transfers

If a person is being transferred to a prison in another region because of capacity utilisation purposes (e.g. the prison is full), this decision must be considered at each classification review. Subject to capacity issues, people who have been subject to an involuntary inter-regional transfer should be offered the opportunity to return to their facility of origin in the month preceding discharge to facilitate community transition arrangements upon release from custody.

Review of placement decisions

Reconsideration of placement decisions can occur during classification reviews, but are not required by law. Placement can be reviewed due to a change in circumstances, such as safety concerns or program completion. A person in prison can request a review of their placement.

Although the Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld) seeks to limit a person’s opportunity to object to any transfer by removing the right to seek judicial review of any decision involving transfer, case law suggests these provisions may be unconstitutional and legal advice should be sought.

Interstate transfers

Interstate transfer applications are governed by the Prisoners (Interstate Transfer) Act 1982 (Qld), which is part of a national scheme that includes mirror legislation in other states.

Applications may be made for a transfer for legal reasons where the prisoner is facing outstanding charges in another state, or a welfare transfer where the person’s family, friends or other significant persons reside in another state. Applications for transfers for legal reasons can also be made by an attorney-general for the purposes of bringing a person before a court in their state. If a person is on parole, different legislation applies for extradition.

Interstate Transfer Application forms should be available at the prison. An application for a welfare transfer should be accompanied by supporting documentation from friends and family, including medical certificates if the health of a family member or friend is part of the reason for the transfer.

The process involves approval from the Attorney-General (transfer for legal reasons) or Minister for Corrective Services (welfare transfers) of both states and can therefore take several months, even years, to be processed and effected. If the request for a welfare transfer is refused, another application will not be considered for 12 months.

Complications can arise with the calculation of sentences of prisoners who transfer between states, especially where the sentencing practices of the states involved are very different (e.g. laws and practices in relation to remissions). In general terms, a person’s sentence goes with them, and any direction or order made by the court in which they were sentenced will be enforced in the receiving state. However, the sentence will be deemed to have been imposed in the receiving state, and the laws of that state will apply.


Any non-citizen, including a permanent resident, who is convicted of a criminal offence in Australia and receives a sentence of 12 months imprisonment or more may be liable to criminal deportation under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). Criminal deportation may be appealed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Deportation usually takes place immediately upon release, either at the end of the full sentence or after release on parole. The deportee may be kept in immigration detention pending their deportation even where they have been released from custody for criminal offences.