• Planning for the new Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison (‘Eastern Goldfields’) began in 2009. To reduce cost, Cabinet approved delivery as a Public Private Partnership, to be designed, built, financed and maintained by the private sector, but operated by the State.
  • The prison opened 13 months behind schedule, in August 2016. Some operational procedures were not in place, but the move across from the old site went well.
  • Staff numbers were boosted by 46 trainee officers between October and December 2016. At the time of our inspection in January 2017, the prisoner population was 50 per cent of capacity.
  • Security response to an escape ten days before we arrived had reduced prisoner movements, and cut access to recreation. The education centre was closed for the school holidays. Prisoners were bored.
  • Despite that, infrastructure across the site was excellent. Security was impressive. Perimeter fencing had internal and external detection systems, and electronic surveillance was comprehensive.
  • Accommodation for the design capacity of 350 prisoners was in twin cells, with hierarchical advancement for male prisoners. Female accommodation was appropriately segregated.
  • All units had passive and active recreation facilities, and a full-size oval and temperature-controlled gymnasium was centrally located.
  • The new Eastern Goldfields visits centre was welcoming, and discretely secure. It was adequate for the design capacity.
  • The education and health centres were intelligently designed and very well equipped. Education was fully-staffed, and an Aboriginal Education Worker position was funded. With the start of the new school year, teaching resumed, with some gender-mixing in classrooms.
  • The health centre provided seven-day coverage, but in January, we saw service gaps. Comprehensive primary health care was not being delivered. We did not see: female or Aboriginal medical staff; mental health staff; drug and alcohol services; chronic condition management; dentistry, or other allied health services. Although two clinical nurse positions were vacant at the time of the inspection, they have since been filled.
  • Access to meaningful employment was limited. Traditional prison industries like kitchen and laundry provided some work, but the three specialist workshops were not operating for lack of staff. Women were confined to their unit.
  • At the time of the inspection, no offender treatment programs had been delivered, and none were planned before the end of 2017. Some additional programs were later scheduled, but we saw no evidence that the Department planned to develop culturally appropriate and gender-specific therapeutic treatment programs for Aboriginal prisoners from goldfields and desert communities.
  • Pre-release services were available in partnership with key local providers, and we saw a mixed-gender pre-release employment workshop at the education centre. Expansion of pre-release services was delayed until the Department finalised new contracts.
  • At the time of the inspection, the Warburton Work Camp was still unoccupied. The Inspector was pleased to report that it re-opened in June 2017, with ten male prisoners on site.
Page last updated: October 4, 2017
111: Inspection of Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison