During our 2022 inspection, expansion works were ongoing at Casuarina and the prison was increasing in size and complexity. When building is complete, Casuarina will have a capacity of around 1,800 making it the biggest prison in Australia. This comes with significant risks and challenges.

Casuarina was already managing increasingly complex conflicts and risks between prisoners which made safe placement more difficult. There was a high prevalence of health needs and mental health needs, and intellectual and cognitive impairments among the prisoner population.

Infrastructure and resources to support meaningful activity for prisoners – industries, recreation, education, programs – had not kept pace with accommodation expansions so there was a fundamental lack of capacity. We were concerned that this undermined both the safety and security of the prison, and the prison’s ability to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them to re-enter the community.

Chronic shortages of custodial staff were exacerbating this problem. These shortages were primarily driven by unplanned absences (personal leave and workers’ compensation leave). Redeployment of staff to cover shortages in other areas meant that activities and services were frequently restricted or cancelled.

These issues associated with the expansion need to be considered and addressed now. Casuarina needs to have a clear vision and strategic direction, so there is clarity around where it sits within the wider prison system and how it is expected to manage such a complex facility with many different cohorts of prisoners.

Page last updated: October 23, 2023
150: Inspection of Casuarina Prison