In 2014 women’s imprisonment in Western Australia was in crisis, and Bandyup Women’s Prison bore the brunt of that crisis. It had been experiencing high levels of overcrowding for years. Those women who did not get a bed had to sleep on mattresses on the floor, often with their heads adjacent to a toilet. Actions to address the issues were piecemeal and not strategic or holistic.
In December 2016 a new women’s prison, Melaleuca Remand and Reintegration Facility had begun operations. And not before time – by July 2016 Bandyup’s population had risen above 400 women. Melaleuca took over the role of Perth’s female reception prison, receiving all female remandees from metropolitan area courts, and providing reintegration services for women in the last six months of their sentences. The removal of these responsibilities from Bandyup redefined its role within the custodial estate. It’s core functions now related to:
- sentenced prisoners, excluding those reintegration prisoners at Boronia or Melaleuca
- all prisoners with complex needs including those who:
- have high risk mental health or health needs
- are management placement prisoners
- are caring for children up to the age of 12 months in custody
- sentenced prisoners requiring clinical treatment programs
- remand prisoner overflow from Melaleuca (Melaleuca opened 15 December 2016 and remand functions commenced 19 January 2017)
- sentenced prisoner overflow from Melaleuca.