During its first two years of operation West Kimberley Regional Prison has achieved most of what it reasonably could reasonably have been expected of it. The Inspection found a solid focus on the needs of the prisoners and a genuine concern for culturally appropriate operational practices and procedures.

This was highlighted in a number of ways during the inspection, including:

  • The treatment of female prisoners was an example for other regional prisons that accommodate a mix of genders. There was a positive balance between the infrastructure, risk management and human relationships, to allow appropriate, supervised, risk assessed interaction between male and female prisoners. Female prisoners have a purpose built space and facilities where they can undertake a range of appropriate activities. They are treated as equals, rather than adjuncts, within the prison.
  • Prisoners felt culturally secure and safe, and this encouraged and facilitated their engagement and participation in a range of rehabilitative and skill providing activities, from education to programs to work and training.
  • The positive impact of culturally appropriate facilities and management of prisoners on lowering levels of self-harms and crisis management of prisoners with mental health issues.

As with all facilities, there were areas identified where the prison could aim for some improved outcomes. These included:

  • More accessibility for prisoners to attend funerals.
  • Developing a wider range and diversity of activities for prisoners eligible for participation in external prison activities under section 95 of the Prisons Act.
  • Development of a new cultural centre is required, as prisoners do not want to use the existing facility. This should be done in consultation with local community groups.
  • Development and delivery of gender and cultural appropriate programs for women at West Kimberley Regional Prison.
  • Provide more life skills training.

Broome Prison, on the other hand, had gone backwards since its last inspection in September 2011. This wholly reflected the continuing lack of commitment, communication and uncertainty about its future, low prisoner numbers, declining services and staff frustration and low morale.

Some of Broome’s problems directly reflect its physical infrastructure and history, but most come back to the failure to properly plan from five years ago on how the Department of Corrective Services, and the extended justice system in the Kimberley, would deliver some essential custodial services.

Poor communication played a key role in this, and unfortunately continued to be the case well beyond the time of the inspection after it was drawn to the Department’s attention.

Overall, the report found that the decision to build the prison in Derby should have prompted a strong planning process for the justice needs across the Kimberley region as a whole. This did not, and still has not, occurred. The planning process has been disjointed and there was no evidence provided of any sense of a ‘linked up’ response to needs across departments or portfolios.

Hopefully the promised Kimberley plan from the Department will be available imminently, and will lead to both facilities being properly utilised and resourced as part of a fully integrated strategy.

Page last updated: May 1, 2015
96: Report of an Announced Inspection of West Kimberley Regional Prison