Graduate Certificate in Correctional Nursing

Duration1 year part-time
Next start termAnytime
Study modeOnline
Course codeCL69
This course offers Commonwealth Supported Places, meaning you may be eligible for significant fee savings.


The Graduate Certificate in Correctional Nursing is ideal if you are a nurse employed or seeking employment in correctional services, and would like to gain essential knowledge and skills to provide high-quality nursing care to the offender population. Informed by industry, this highly contextual postgraduate nursing course has been designed to equip you with skills and knowledge to work in correctional nursing settings, preparing you to provide care to the offender population. It will prepare you for working in a highly regulated environment and the complexity and uniqueness of the prison environment. This course is offered entirely online and allows you to self-pace your studies - no term dates or submission deadlines, allowing you to manage your studies with your career and lifestyle. 

The Graduate Certificate in Correctional Nursing is now offered on our Be Different platform and offers you a self-paced, ultra flexible online course. You will gain essential knowledge and skills for employment in correctional services in order to provide high-quality nursing care to the offender population.

In this course, you will learn about the many facets of the nursing role including primary health care, chronic disease management, health education and responding to emergencies. Your studies will focus on understanding offenders, why they are likely to offend and the effect of incarceration, in particular how this relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. You will gain knowledge about licit and illicit drug use, harm minimisation strategies and treatment relevant to the prison environment. You will explore the term ‘jail craft’, referring to the many strategies that nurses use in this unique environment to manage their patients and themselves, and in particular, you will learn strategies to manage the impact of trauma on self and in the prisoner population.

Developed in consultation with industry, this course is highly contextual and will provide you with up-to-date knowledge and skills to work in correctional settings. Plus, benefit from the ultimate flexibility to study entirely online via our Be Different platform where you set your own pace to fit study around your life.

Career Opportunities

On completion of this award, graduates will be able to seek employment as a nurse in correctional services. Graduates currently employed in correctional services may also be eligible for promotion. 

Structure & Availability

Wondering how a self-paced postgraduate course in correctional nursing works and what to expect? Explore more details below.

Course structure

The Graduate Certificate in Correctional Nursing is comprised of four units. These four units are generally broken down into 10-12, bite-sized modules for you to complete. Each unit is six credit points and designed to require a time commitment of a total of 144 hours.

If you choose to study all four units at once over a typical term duration of 12 weeks on a full-time basis this would equate to six months of full-time study for all four units.

After enrolling, you’ll have access to all four units, and you can work through these in any order.


Your assessments range from portfolio, online quizzes and case studies. The difference is there are no deadlines or due dates. 

Unit information

You must complete a total of four units as follows:

  • NURS28001 Jail Craft (We encourage you to complete this unit first or for it to be studied concurrently with other units in the beginning of the course).
  • NURS20178 Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • NURS28002 Understanding Offenders
  • NURS28003 Optimising Health in the Correctional Setting

Unit overviews

Jail Craft

Nurses employed in correctional settings require knowledge and skills that align with the complexity and uniqueness of the prison environment. Further, it is imperative correctional nurses ensure the same standard of care is provided to offenders as to others in society. However, a number of impediments are encountered and require negotiation when providing care in a highly regulated environment including security restraints, high levels of staff authority and the prison culture. In this unit you will have the opportunity to explore the challenges associated with nursing in a secure and authoritative environment and in managing the prison culture. You will also develop the knowledge and skills required to meet these challenges to ensure a high and equitable standard of nursing care. You will examine characteristics of the prison culture including criminal identity, prisoner hierarchy, prisonerisation, jail language and ‘code of honour’. You will also acquire the knowledge and skills relating to, what is commonly termed, ‘jail craft’; being able to effectively communicate with offenders and Correctional Officers, maintaining professional boundaries, respecting cultural diversity including that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, dealing with vicarious trauma and possessing self-protectiveness and resilience.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

The use and misuse of licit and illicit drugs is a serious and complex problem in Australia and leads to broad health, social and economic concerns including: increased risk of mortality, illness, disease and injury; social and family disruption; workplace problems; and violence, crime and community safety issues. In this unit, you will have the opportunity to explore the impact of drug use, the reasons why individuals may use and misuse drugs, and evaluate strategies to minimise harm to the community and individuals. You will also compare the effects of different types of licit and illicit drugs on individuals and evaluate assessment and treatment options. This unit is relevant to students across different disciplines who may encounter drug use in their profession or those who wish to further understand this challenging area.

Understanding Offenders

This unit focuses on understanding the person who offends. You will examine the historical origins of current approaches to crime and punishment in Australia and the way crime and offenders are conveyed in the media. You will explore the biopsychosocial and cultural factors that inform the likelihood that a person will commit a crime and be punished for it, including: social inequality, trauma, gender, drug use, unemployment, family history, mental health issues, ethnicity and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage. The impact of imprisonment on the offender will also be analysed and you will evaluate different ways to minimise this impact.

Optimising Health in the Correctional Setting

The health needs of offenders in the correctional setting are greater than those of people in the general community. This group often have long-standing physical illnesses and/or mental health issues. Social disadvantage and inadequate health literacy are often contributing factors towards a lower health status. While offenders often have not accessed healthcare before entering prison, they make extensive use of health services provided within prison. Thus, the correctional nurse has a major role in contributing to the current and potential health of the offender through acute and primary health care. This unit explores the role of the correctional nurse in optimising prisoner health in a highly regulated environment. This includes health promotion and health education, triaging and managing acute and chronic physical and mental health conditions and Sexually Transmitted Infection management and tracking.

Credit transfer information

If you have already completed study relevant to the course you have enrolled in, you may be eligible for credit transfer.

Online Availability

Hyperflexible Annual Term, 2023Available Online
Hyperflexible Annual Term, 2024Available Online

Majors and minors are not applicable to this course.

This course has no residential schools.


Recommended study

To be eligible for entry into this course, applicants must hold:

  • Current Registered Nurse (Division 1) registration with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority (AHPRA).

English Language Proficiency Requirements:

If you were not born in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa or United States of America you are required to meet the English Language Proficiency requirements set by the University. Applicants are required to provide evidence of completion of:

  • A secondary qualification (Year 11 and 12, or equivalent), or
  • An Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) diploma level qualification, or
  • Bachelor level qualification study for a period of at least 2 years full time with a minimum overall GPA 4.0

Completed within Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Africa, Ireland, or United States of America, which will meet the English proficiency.

If you do not satisfy any of the above you will need to undertake an English language proficiency test and achieve the following scores as below:

  • An International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic) overall band score of at least 6.0 overall with a minimum 5.5 in each subset; or
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) - Requires 550 or better overall & minimum TWE score of 4.5 (Paper Based Test), or 75 or better overall and no score less than 17 (Internet Based Test); or
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) - Requires an overall score of 54 with no sub-score less than 46; or
  • An Occupational English Test with Grades A or B only in each of the four components.

English test results remain valid for no more than two years between final examination date and the date of commencement of study, and must appear on a single result certificate.

International Students should visit for further information.

Each student will be assessed individually.

Students must hold current nursing registration with Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority (AHPRA).

No health requirements 

No security requirements 

You will have to meet this course's inherent requirements by demonstrating essential skills and attributes.

Fees & Scholarships

2023 Indicative Fees

Fee TypeFees
Commonwealth Supported Place – Indicative First Year Fee$2,060
Domestic Full Fee Paying – Indicative First Year Fee$7,794

2024 Indicative Fees

Fee TypeFees
Commonwealth Supported Place – Indicative First Year Fee$2,220
Domestic Full Fee Paying – Indicative First Year Fee$8,418

Indicative first-year fee

The fees listed are indicative only and based on enrolling in a full-time study load for one academic year (generally, this is four units for a graduate certificate or eight units for a graduate diploma or masters degree). Your fees may vary depending on the units you select and the number you study per term. Fees are reviewed annually and are subject to change. Understanding your fees.

Commonwealth supported places

With Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) available for this course, you may be eligible for significant fee savings. If you are not eligible for a CSP or if CSPs are full, you will be required to pay full fees. Find out more about CSP eligibility criteria.

Government assistance and HELP loans

Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) are subsidised by the Australian Government, meaning you are only required to pay the student contribution rather than full tuition fees if you meet eligibility requirements. If offered a CSP, you may be eligible for a HECS-HELP government loan. HECS-HELP is an Australian Government loan scheme that assists you in paying your student contributions. Provided you meet the HECS-HELP eligibility criteria, you may use HECS-HELP to defer part or all of your student contribution fees. Learn more about paying for university.

Other study costs

There may be additional costs as part of your studies, such as technology expenses. Explore other study costs.

How to apply

Apply now

This course is open for applications all year round and you can start your studies anytime. To apply, click on the apply button below.