In September 2008 the incoming Liberal government promised to ‘commence work on a new juvenile prison facility for 18–22 year old offenders.’ The Department of Corrective Services (‘The Department’) immediately started to plan as to how this might be best achieved within the new government’s first four-year term. The task was challenging considering that there would not be time to identify, acquire and build on a new site.
In May 2009 the then Minister for Corrective Services, announced that by the end of 2011, the juvenile Rangeview Remand Centre (‘Rangeview’) would be converted to an 80-bed young adults’ prison. All juveniles from Rangeview were to be moved to new facilities within the Banksia Hill Detention Centre (‘Banksia Hill’).
The Department’s analysis of the minimum-security population of young adults in prisons revealed there would be insufficient 18–22 year olds of the appropriate security rating to fill the new 80-bed centre, so the age range was expanded to 24. In November 2011 Serco was announced as the preferred tenderer, and the initial five year contract (with potential renewals having a total value of $172m over its maximum 15 year life) commenced in March 2012.
Preparations for the transfer of youth from Rangeview to Banksia Hill were significantly delayed, as the construction of the accommodation buildings and supporting infrastructure at Banksia Hill ran 12 months late. The handover of the Rangeview site was consequently delayed a number of times from 1 January 2012 to 15 October 2012. Service commencement was similarly delayed from 1 April 2012 to 1 November 2012. The site preparation time between the Department handing over the site and the prison receiving prisoners had therefore been shortened from three months, to just over a fortnight. Wandoo was gazetted as a prison on 30 October 2012 and received its first residents just two days later.