There were many areas in Roebourne Regional Prison which were progressing well. There were some excellent initiatives in voluntary programs and throughcare services for prisoners, especially for Martu people from the Western Desert. And the Town Work Camp was continuing to provide outstanding service to the prison and the community.
However, the high rate of ‘unknown’ or unexpected absences’ on the part of the staff, in addition to other staffing deficiencies meant prisoners’ quality of life was being affected. Particularly, for recreation, work and educational opportunities. Female prisoners were especially impacted by staff shortages and the confining nature of their accommodation. Significant change is needed in arrangements for Pilbara women in custody to better meet their needs.
But ultimately, the need for effective climate control was the main focus for this inspection. It was raised with the Department of Justice at the end of the inspection and in the draft report we sent in September 2022. It has been an ongoing concern for this Office over many years but last summer the heat was at a record level. Many community voices supported the prisoners in crying out for a solution. We are pleased to acknowledge that the Western Australian State Government has recently agreed to install air-conditioning in the prison, although it will take until at least 2023 before this is possible.