Despite Wandoo’s troubled birth, this inspection revealed a good news story, with many examples of good practice. One particular innovation was the importance that Wandoo had placed on restorative justice. Placed front and centre of its operating philosophy this approach had clear and positive implications for how relationship tensions between residents, between residents and staff, and even between staff were handled. The approach also guided the management of residents’ behavioural issues and assisted residents to prepare for their reintegration back into the community through family group conferencing.
The quality of the relationship between staff and residents in general, and the case worker relationship in particular, supported effective dynamic security at Wandoo. This was crucial to reducing the risk of escapes given the number of prisoners working or undertaking programs in the community each day, under section 95 of the Prisons Act.
Serco had inherited a facility from the Department that had been starved of investment and allowed to run down over a number of years. $4 million was provided by the Department for ‘enabling works’. This included redeveloping and refurbishing the front entrance, visitors’ waiting area, health centre, and prisoner reception. Upgrades and changes were also made to the: visits centre, renovating the cells and units, rewiring electrical systems, changing the distribution of double bunks, and removing the swimming pool.
The removal of graffiti during the enabling works (or in the case of glass, the attachment of frosting until the glass could be replaced) had by itself significantly lifted the appearance of the prison, considerably improving the amenity and suitability of the facility for its current purpose. The remediation and removal of the bleak, sensory deprived, and graffiti-strewn physical environment of the Special Purpose Unit that I had described as ‘inhumane’ during our 2010 inspection of the former Rangeview Remand Centre, completed the process.