Despite its age, poor design, small size and distance from Perth, EGRP has made progress over the decade. It had been identified in 2001 as unfit for purpose and demonstrating structural racism, with facilities, conditions and services that would not have been tolerated in a non-Aboriginal prison. During this inspection, sound local management practices, and a determination to provide services appropriate for the majority Aboriginal prisoners were found to be in place.
While the allocation of substantial state funding to redevelop the prison by 2015 was welcomed, the existing facility can not be permitted to deteriorate over its five remaining years. Continued refinement of the full range of services was imperative, despite the impoverished infrastructure. In the short term, local management had been denied adequate funding for maintenance, but had improvised effectively.
The prison had suffered inconsistent prisoner counselling services, lack of both Prison Support Officer and Women’s Support Officer, and no Aboriginal Visitor Scheme presence since early 2010. The peer support system was dysfunctional, and unit meetings were sporadic. The EGRP health centre had been significantly under-resourced, with services only fulfilling acute care requirements.
EGRP had made progress towards aligning education and skills training with the life circumstances into which prisoners would be released. Sufficient employment opportunities were provided within the prison and on Section 95 external work parties for prisoners in Unit Two (male minimum) and Unit Three (female secure). Prisoners in Unit One (male secure) were however denied access to education, training, employment and therapeutic programs. While transitional services preparing prisoners for imminent release were well integrated with the community, many prisoners from elsewhere only transited EGRP briefly, with insufficient time for effective processing.
Significant challenges have been the systemic limits to access to the prison in the first instance, in particular the security classification instrument restricting the progression of many Aboriginal prisoners to minimum security and work camp placement. Maintaining full occupancy of the new Warburton work camp could prove difficult.

Page last updated: April 22, 2014
72: Report of an announced inspection of Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison.