Australia’s first custom-built, culturally-sensitive “Aboriginal prison”, near Derby is set to receive its first residents by the middle of this year.
When finished, the prison will house up to 300 Kimberley prisoners held in Perth, Albany, Greenough and Bunbury.
Around 20 self-care units at the new West Kimberley Regional Prison are now nearing completion.
Each will accommodate six, seven or eight beds, with their own kitchens, for a total of around 120 male and 30 female offenders.
Construction is also well underway on the prison’s gymnasium, resource centre and library, as well as a “spiritual centre”.
Department of Corrective Services director of strategic assets Andy Daniels said: “In keeping with the prison philosophy, the accommodation units are grouped houses, arranged so prisoners can be located according to family ties or language, as well as security rating.”
The prison will be filled gradually, starting this year with a mix of 60 male and 24 female offenders of minimum and medium security ratings, while the remaining offenders will be housed early in 2013.
The prison has been built according to five main principals: custodial proximity to land and family; respect of traditional law and cultural responsibilities; acceptance of spiritual relationship to land, sea and waterways; recognition of kinship and family responsibilities; and promoting the social and economic wellbeing and independence.