Minister opens first purpose designed Aboriginal prison

01 Nov 2012

Designed in association with iredale pedersen hook architects, our recently completed Derby prison project was today opened by Corrective Services Minister Murray Cowper with Department of Corrective Services Commissioner Ian Johnson.

“I am proud to be a part of a Government that provided $150million to build this unique and innovative facility,” Minister Murray 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.”

West Kimberley Regional Prison is a campus-styled dual gender facility comprising minimum, medium and maximum security accommodation and support facilities for 120 men and 30 women.

The prison is the first of its kind in Australia designed specifically to acknowledge and support Indigenous culture while addressing the reason for their imprisonment. The opening ceremony reflected these principles with Indigenous Elders conducting a smoking ceremony, and guests enjoying a performance by The Mowanjum dancers.

Guests attended the opening ceremony in the prison’s gymnasium, however were given the opportunity to visit a typical housing unit where the philosophy of the living arrangement was discussed.

The prison adopts a “self-care” model where prisoners are expected to participate in a normalised “structured day” including work, education, programme and recreation activities.

Read the full Ministerial Statement.

Read an article featured in the West online news.

Click for more information and images of the West Kimberley Regional Prison.