• Planning for the Department to resume operation of the prison was rushed and incomplete when the transition occurred.
  • By the time of the inspection in November 2020, unit plans and local orders had been finalised however, tension and confusion amongst staff was still evident and there was still no overarching philosophy.
  • Overall infrastructure at the prison is inadequate to provide the range of holistic services and support women need to an acceptable standard.
  • The reception process at Melaleuca was undertaken respectfully and efficiently. Some flaws with the layout of reception made it difficult to interview the women privately.
  • The education staffing model still had not yet been finalised. Considering the lack of infrastructure and staffing, the education team provided a good service.
  • Melaleuca’s peer support team was functioning well but were undertaking their duties without the necessary training to deal with women who have significant emotional issues.
  • Sodexo had an electronic system enabling women to book and manage their own medical appointments, but this was removed for a traditional paper-form system via staff.
  • Communication about medical appointments is poor, resulting in a high number of cancellations and unused appointment times.
  • The medical centre lacked stable leadership, with a fourth Clinical Nurse Manager starting during our inspection.
  • Without a stable leader, nurse recruitment was not prioritised and the medical centre under-staffed. It had also created inefficient and ineffective management practices.
  • The two Psychological Health Service (PHS) psychologists were providing an efficient service.
  • Women who were mentally unwell were kept in the Crisis Care Unit, we found the environment non-therapeutic.
  • Communication and information provided to pregnant women was poor, and they were frightened as a result.
  • The women had received no written information about their pregnancy care including the care they that they might receive while delivering.
  • We have consistently raised concerns about the integrity of the perimeter fence that divides Melaleuca and Hakea. Two previous inspection reports (the 2017 Melaleuca inspection and the 2018 Hakea inspection) both recommended improvements to the security of the fence. Both times this was rejected.
  • Male prisoners from Hakea have twice breached the fence, once in 2019 and then again while we were onsite for this inspection.
  • In 2017, when Melaleuca was operated by Sodexo, the arrangement of transfers between Melaleuca and Bandyup was problematic. This inspection found the prison was still experiencing issues. A formal system-wide process, with escalation options, needs to be developed.


Page last updated: September 2, 2021
136: Inspection of Melaleuca Women’s Prison