• Remandees had fewer opportunities than sentenced prisoners and were ineligible to join offender programs or access the work camp. We thought there was a need to better educate prisoners about legal processes and ensure access to appropriate resources.
  • We believe it is time the prison considered using the Aboriginal Interpreting WA service for key interactions with prisoners such as health, education or treatment assessments and counselling.
  • The social visits centre was much improved, but COVID-19 restrictions had resulted in caps in visit allowances and visitor numbers. Only a single e-visit terminal was available inside the prison for remote social visits. The work camp had its own e-visit terminal.
  • Recreation had suffered greatly due to chronic staff shortages. In the months prior to our inspection there had been limited access to the air-conditioned recreation hall and library, weekend sport on the oval, other organised sport, and special fitness classes for women and elderly prisoners. Chaplaincy was also restricted in contact with prisoners and no church services were available.
  • There had been much public attention on the lack of air-conditioning in the mainstream male prisoner accommodation and prisoners complained of sleep deprivation due to the heat. Our data loggers showed that overnight heat in the cells was the same as that recorded in 2016 despite reflective paint being applied to the roofs in 2020. Additional shade and demisters were installed in units and bigger ice machines were being installed, but there was little access to the air-conditioned recreation hall. An engineering consultancy firm has since been engaged by the Department to do a feasibility study on retrofitting air-conditioning to prisoner accommodation.
  • The health centre infrastructure remained unfit for purpose and the waiting area is an outdoor cage exposed to the weather. Dental services were entirely inadequate with long periods where no service was available at all.
  • Mental health was serviced remotely by telehealth which was manageable but less than ideal given cultural barriers and limited knowledge of local conditions and services for throughcare. However, the Psychological Health Service counsellor was locally based and appeared to be well supported by colleagues from other facilities.
  • The Peer Support Team was beginning to become less effective following the recent loss of the Prison Support Officer. There was no Aboriginal Visitor Service in the prison.
  • Assessment staff were often redeployed to cover staff absences leading to delays that impacted prisoner access to programs and parole. While program delivery was consistent, ‘unmet treatment needs’ was one of the reasons cited by the Prisoner Review Board for 35 prisoners from Roebourne who had been denied parole. This was due to short sentences, delays in treatment assessments, refusals to transfer out to do programs (especially women for whom local programs were not offered) and insufficient treatment gains in programs completed. There was often a mismatch between individual learning capacity and the learning needs of the programs being provided.
  • There was significant instability in education over recent years and a new team were just starting to get established. There had been little consistency in what was being offered in terms of basic education or training over time. While women had some special programs, there was no opportunity to do an ongoing program of study. A new radio studio was one element in some new possibilities in education and training.
  • We thought the women’s precinct was rather cramped but still had some good facilities.
  • Due to regular staffing shortages, restrictions too often defined the women’s experience. They were often confined to their unit with little access to recreation or even to the available resources within their own section, such as the activity donga. This was especially the case when there was no Women’s Support Officer which occurred often. Significant change is needed in arrangements for Pilbara women in custody to better meet their needs.
Page last updated: December 14, 2022
145: Inspection of Roebourne Regional Prison