This was the seventh Announced Inspection of the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison (‘Eastern Goldfields’), but the second since the commissioning of the new facility.
First Inspected in 2000, the old Eastern Goldfields prison, which was built in 1980, was continually found to be unfit for purpose until its closure in 2016. The new Eastern Goldfields prison opened in August 2016 and was first inspected in January 2017.
In 2017 we found that infrastructure across the site was excellent and security was impressive. Accommodation for the design capacity of 350 prisoners was in twin cells, with hierarchical advancement and female accommodation 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 appropriate 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, with some significant service gaps. Comprehensive primary health care was not being delivered. There was no female or Aboriginal medical staff; mental health staff; drug and alcohol services; chronic condition management; dentistry, or other allied health services.
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.
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.