• As far back as 2005 this office commented that Roebourne was not fit for purpose and should be replaced with a new custodial facility by 2015. It was concerning that the Department still appeared to have no firm plans about the prison’s future.
  • The infrastructure is ageing and needs upgrading. The visits centre is not fit for purpose. The medical centre needs expanding. There is no gymnasium and the library size has been reduced to accommodate other services within the prison. The communal bathrooms were disgraceful. They afforded little decency to the prisoners and were well below standards in terms of hygiene and cleanliness. Cells were cluttered and there was a lack of personal storage space for prisoners. There had, however, been some cell refurbishments and safer bunk beds were installed.
  • Our Thermal Conditions review revealed that cell temperatures in the 2014 summer period never fell below 29 degrees. Between 2010 and 2016 there were 82 cases of heat related illness reported to the prison’s health centre. The prison prepared a business case for the installation of air conditioning. At the time of the inspection the prison had still not received a response to the business case.
  • The prison had been exploring a number of heat mitigation strategies in the absence of air-conditioning. Roebourne also introduced fiberglass sheeting along the external breezeways behind the units to reduce the direct sunlight on the cells. Unfortunately, enclosing the units with the sheeting served to block off air flow and made the cells even hotter. A number of other appropriate strategies had been implemented including the erection of permanent shade structures, adjusting the prison routine when the temperature reaches 45 degrees, and using misting fans. Chilled water fountains and ice machines had also been purchased but required additional plumbing.
  • A new management team had been energetic and enthusiastic in tackling Roebourne’s challenges. As a prison with a history of poor staff morale, this was a positive change. While staff perceptions were still somewhat mixed, there were tangible improvements. Staff were largely positive and a new Strategic Business Plan provided a good footing for further operational improvement.
  • The work camp is an impressive facility and an excellent addition to the prison, however it was underused. It had operated at less than half its capacity since commencing operations.
  • The women’s unit was small, isolated and appropriately inaccessible to the male population. Whilst the women’s cells were in better repair than the male cells, mainly because they were less crowded and were air-conditioned, there were still significant maintenance issues that needed to be addressed in the women’s unit.
  • Services for women at Roebourne have improved. The women regularly participate in education programs and mixed recreation with prisoners from the male population is a weekly event. However there were no opportunities for women to participate in programs. The women at Roebourne were also considerably under-employed.
  • We rarely observed officers spending time outside their air conditioned offices engaging with prisoners, except at scheduled periods such as the population count. Some prisoners noted that the absence of staff made them feel unsafe.
Page last updated: December 1, 2016
106: Report of an Announced Inspection of Roebourne Regional Prison