While Hakea is meeting satisfactory standards in most core areas, the negativity of many staff and the division between staff and management tended to obscure much of this good work and had impacted performance in some areas.
Areas of good practice included management of prisoner movements, basic care, security, and management of at-risk prisoners. But many parts of the site faced serious environmental health issues, including vermin infestations, and some areas were no longer fit for purpose. For example, Unit 1, the ‘management unit’, must perform a number of conflicting roles in conditions which are inadequate for staff and prisoners alike. Unit 7, where male metropolitan prisoners usually spend their first few nights in prison, is claustrophobic, run down and fails to provide an appropriately supportive ‘first night’ environment.
Hakea offers a good range of interventions, welfare and re-entry services for prisoners and these services have improved since the last inspection. There remains, however, a significant unmet need for voluntary group programs and counselling among remandees in relation to addictions issues.
While meaningful education, employment and training is available to a portion of the population, too many prisoners were idle. Indeed, opportunities for prisoners to engage in either employment or recreation had noticeably declined since the 2009 inspection.
The report identified many other deficiencies, or opportunities for improvements in services to prisoners generally or for particular groups such as remandees, young men, Aboriginals, ethnically and linguistically diverse people and those with mental health issues.
There was evidence that the Superintendent had been trying to develop a cultural change program under the banner of making staff ‘proud to be Hakea’. What was observed to be lacking, however, was the visibility of senior management around the prison; good communication; and sufficient support from some in the management team, the wider staff group and head office.
A charter was needed which articulates the prison’s vision, roles, culture and values and local business plans and procedures revised to embed the charter and provide appropriate change management programs and supports. It was hoped that a sharper sense of identity and direction will develop and that Hakea would become a place where conflicts are set aside and problems can be separated from personalities.
By the time the report of this inspection was published, a new management team was in place which it was hoped would unify the prison culture and drive future progress.