Square Stage

Experiences of police apprehension for psychosocial disability: a co-designed investigation

Project Summary

This project takes a human rights and co-production approach, informed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to bring the voices of people with psychosocial disability into this discussion and  influence policing and other crisis response practices. Our team is led by people with psychosocial disability, including two people with experience of police apprehension in the context of psychosocial distress, supported by academics with expertise in co-production, mental health and policing.


Police callouts for psychosocial distress occur every 12 minutes. More than 6% of all people taken to hospital for psychosocial distress are taken by police, by force. This is ten times higher than for physical health issues. Cases of poor practice highlight the disabling potential of police responses, yet the academic literature shows that this does not have to be the case.

Many people with psychosocial disability find police apprehension stigmatising, distressing and traumatic, despite reform initiatives. Not all people who experience psychosocial distress will experience or be labelled with psychosocial disability, but many will find police responses disabling. There are no other Australian studies which use a co-produced approach on this topic, despite ongoing reforms and shifts in policy and practice responses.

Project Team


  • Rory Randall, Consumer Academic, RMIT (Lead) 

  • Dr Chris Maylea, Senior Lecturer, RMIT & Deputy Chair, VMIAC

  • Fiona Nguyen, Consumer Academic, RMIT

  • Hamilton Kennedy, Consumer Academic, Melbourne University & Chair of VMIAC’s Human Rights and Ethics Committee

  • Simon Katterl, Consumer Academic, RMIT & VMIAC Committee of Management

  • Professor Stuart Thomas, Professor of Forensic Mental Health, RMIT

  • Associate Professor Robyn Martin, Associate Dean Social Work & Human Services, RMIT

  • Meena Singh, Yorta Yorta woman and Legal Director at Human Rights Law Centre

  • Lucy Bashfield, RMIT


Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) - Lead
Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) Victoria’s peak body for mental health consumers