This report of an announced inspection of Bandyup contains many more recommendations (33) than other recent reports. There are two main reasons for this. First, Bandyup is a very complex multi-purpose prison, catering for a particularly complex group of prisoners. Secondly, the 2005 and 2008 inspections noted a marked improvement at Bandyup since 2002. But while there are still areas of good practice, in many respects the prison has slipped back in terms of its strategic direction and performance.
The key findings of this report highlight the way in which the Department’s progressive development of a women-centred approach, noted in earlier reports, has been arrested. Furthermore, and perhaps even more seriously, they indicate that despite its pivotal role as the female prison in Western Australia, Bandyup is the ‘poor cousin’ of the male metropolitan prisons. Compared with their male counterparts, women experience inequitable access to facilities, services and programs.
This neglect of Bandyup has also affected staff. The impoverished environment and poor facilities available to them are well beneath those encountered in most other (particularly metropolitan) prisons. Staff are aware of this and see this as a failure to value their contributions. To reduce the potential risks, the Department must ensure that appropriate investments are made in staff, both in terms of their physical facilities and access to training and development opportunities.
Planning and investment are urgently required for Bandyup and more generally for female prisoners in the state. If such planning and investment are not forthcoming, there is a very real risk that past achievements will be further eroded. If Bandyup is reinvigorated through further investment, there is every reason to believe that the staff can meet the challenge and that the prison’s role in reducing recidivism can be significantly enhanced.