Kalgoorlie MP urged to act on over-crowded prison

Thursday 20 May 2010

Frontline Prison Officers will today meet local Local Member for Kalgoorlie John Bowler over concerns about privatization and over-crowding at Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison.

Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison has been identified by the WA Prison Officers Union as one of 14 prisons that is holding significantly more inmates than designed to.

“Eastern Goldfields was designed to hold 100 inmates but in the last six months this prison has held up 30 per cent more inmates than it was designed for.

“This is a huge problem because this creates an escalation in both the pressure and temperature inside prisons,” says WA Prison Officers Union (WAPOU) Secretary John Welch.

Mr Bowler has been a strong supporter of Prisoner officers in the past and WAPOU hope he will be on these issues

Prison Officers say they have launched the ‘Respect the Risk’ campaign because West Australian prisons have reached breaking point.

Mr Welch says, “Our prisons are facing multiple risks, the most obvious being a serious crisis in overcrowding.

“Eleven of the state’s 14 prisons are already holding far more inmates than they are designed to, and things are only getting worse,” Mr Welch says.

And WAPOU says the government’s plans to sell off the state’s prisons to private companies to run for profit poses a further risk to prisons.

“There is a plan to build a new 350 bed prison around the current Eastern Goldfields facility in Kalgoorlie, but the government has made no moves to get building operations underway, nor has government committed to running this as a public sector prison.

“We are asking the government to urgently commit to building and running this new prison as a public sector facility so that staff can stop living with a cloud over their heads about the risks they face in their jobs if the current prison is privatized,” said Mr Welch.

The West Australian government is also refusing to negotiate a fair wage agreement for Prison Officers without trading off some hard-won existing work conditions.

“Everywhere our members turn they are facing risks that could undermine the important work they do for the WA community,” says Mr Welch.

“The Respect the Risk campaign will give all Prison Officers, their families, and the broader community a chance to register their respect for the work Prison Officers do everyday,” he concludes.

For more information visit the campaign site www.respecttherisk.com.au

For interviews contact John Welch on 0400 220 667 or Natasha Webb on 0410 729 594.