New West Kimberley Prison Opens

New West Kimberley Prison Opens

Western Australia Minister for Corrective Services Murray Cowper

Innovative West Kimberley Prison Opens

Victor P Taffa

  • Minister opens Derby’s West Kimberley Regional Prison
  • Design and operating philosophy shaped in consultation with local community

A $150 Million prison, specifically designed to reduce re-offending among Kimberley Aboriginal offenders, was today officially opened by Corrective Services Minister Murray Cowper.

Mr. Cowper said the West Kimberley Regional Prison at Derby, designed to house 120 male and 30 female prisoners, was one of the first projects the Liberal-National Government committed to building after coming into office in 2008.

“I am proud to be a part of a Government that provided $150 Million to build this unique and innovative facility.” Mr. Cowper said.

“It is a great accomplishment that gives local Aboriginal offenders a real chance at breaking the cycle of crime.”

“The campus-style facility is built and will operate to a philosophy that recognises and accepts Aboriginal cultural, kinship, family and community responsibilities, as well as spiritual connection to land.”

“Many programs will be delivered by community service providers and staff; and prisoners will be supported by cultural advice and guidance from Aboriginal elders in the Kimberley region.”

“The prison will focus on building self-esteem and the capacity for self-determination by providing prisoners with life, vocational, educational and cognitive skills. This in turn will contribute to building stronger, safer communities.” Mr. Cowper said.

Features of the prison include:

  • 20 units that house six-seven beds grouped into clusters so prisoners can be located according to family ties or language groups; as well as security rating
  • use of semi-transparent materials for the maximum-security perimeter fence and in some of the building materials for the accommodation units, to reduce the feeling of confinement and enhance connection to country
  • spiritual healing centre on site and Aboriginal cultural areas for women and men
  • structured day program where all prisoners will be expected to be engaged in work, education or vocational training or other activities aimed at promoting positive behavioural change
  • self-care accommodation units designed to support prisoners to maintain or develop life skills such as cooking, cleaning and budgeting.  It includes an accommodation unit that can house mothers with babies
  • close relationships with community providers to supply life skills, cultural healing and employment programs and services
  • elders’ program to provide spiritual support and mentoring
  • integrated offender management model to provide seamless, co-ordinated case management of offenders in custody and on their release into the community.

In the first year of operation, the focus will be on embedding the operational culture of the facility among staff and prisoners; developing, testing and refining programs; and continuing to build relationships with the wider Kimberley community.

Fact File

  • Facility received its first 14 prisoners on October 23
  • Staged fill of prisoners to continue in next six to eight months