Roebourne Regional Prison is a complex and challenging place to inspect. It is situated in the remote regional Pilbara area with a predominantly traditional Aboriginal prisoner group. It houses men and women, both sentenced and on remand. Prisoners are rated minimum and medium security, but also accommodates short-term maximum security prisoners.
Roebourne has always been of concern to us. Since commencing operations in 2000 we have inspected Roebourne seven times, making it the most inspected prison in Western Australia. Our past inspections raised concerns about the treatment of Aboriginal prisoners and women, support services, staffing, overcrowding, strategic direction, aging infrastructure and climate control.
Roebourne Regional Prison was built in 1984. It was constructed of inappropriate materials, with an inappropriate design and without temperature control infrastructure in place. In November 2015 we released a comprehensive report detailing the climactic conditions being experienced by prisoners and staff in a number of prisons throughout the state. Roebourne was one of the prisons examined in the report. We found that ‘the temperatures we recorded at Roebourne were not simply uncomfortable; they demonstrated a significant threat to prisoner health.’