This report reflects the findings from the fourth inspection of Boronia. We first inspected Boronia in 2006, and the then Inspector described the facility as ‘a model for good practice, women-centred approaches’ and urged the Department to continue to build on it’s excellent performance. At that time the centre was struggling to keep its numbers up, averaging less than 50 residents. The population capacity at the time was 70.
When we inspected the centre for the second time in 2009 full capacity had been reached. It was also a positive inspection, described in terms like ‘one of a kind’, ‘first rate’ and ‘performing to a very high standard’. Areas for improvement were identified, however, in particular the under-representation of Aboriginal women. Despite a steady system-wide increase in prisoner numbers and increasing double-bunking, Boronia was relatively immune from these overcrowding pressures due to its specific function.
In 2012 there was a growing concern that the facility, while still generally performing to a decent standard, was not living up to its full potential as a unique and contemporary pre-release centre for women. Also, there had been no progress towards increasing the numbers of Aboriginal women being placed there. The Inspector cautioned against satisfaction with their own performance breeding complacency.
The 2015 inspection, therefore, was an opportunity for the Office to inspect against the progress that had been made at Boronia against our previous recommendations for improvement. We hoped to see increased opportunities for the residents to leave the centre and engage in activities in the community, in keeping with the true spirit of a pre-release centre. We also hoped to see more Aboriginal residents benefitting from the pre-release program at Boronia.