The 2017 inspection of Bandyup found a very different prison to that of 2014. The opening of Melaleuca Remand and Reintegration Facility changed the landscape for women’s prisons in WA. And not before time – without the new prison Bandyup would have held more than 460 prisoners at the time of our inspection.
The loss of responsibility for remand women also saw the prisoner profile at Bandyup change. The combination of the two factors meant the prison was calmer, more settled, and far less volatile than in previous years.
A change management project had been undertaken to consider Bandyup’s future following these changes. The review included recommendations on how to improve infrastructure and services.
A long-term management team had contributed to stability at Bandyup. But not long after the inspection many moved on to other duties. This had an impact on understanding of, and commitment to, the change management process.
We were particularly concerned at plans to change Bandyup’s structured day, which recognises the different needs of women. The Department did not support a recommendation to continue this important initiative. We find that the model reflects the values and aspirations that the Department had set up for itself in its ‘Women’s Standard’, so it is essential another women’s-centric policy and practice should take its place.
At the core of our findings was the need for high level strategic planning, direction, and change at Bandyup. Respite from population pressure is likely to be short-lived, and it is essential that the opportunity to improve planning for female prisoners be taken.