Designed to support Aboriginal culture, kinship, and connection to country

In 2005, Kimberley Aboriginal Elders were asked to consult with their communities to determine what an appropriate prison might be in their cultural context. The results of this report became the basis for the design of Australia’s first culturally-appropriate prison specifically to meet the needs of Aboriginal people.

The West Kimberley Prison accommodates up to 150 prisoners in a flexible facility that enables inmates to remain connected to their kin, land and community. This is not a typical prison in any sense of the word. Absent are the visible security elements, high walls, bars and heavy building materials that so commonly dominate prison architecture.

The construction task consisted of 22 housing units with a specific women’s section, each supplied with their own kitchen and laundry facilities to maximise the opportunity for offenders to practice basic independent living skills. We also built the ancillary facilities including the gatehouse, medical centre, library, family visit centre, spiritual centre, gymnasium and workshops.

  • Native vegetation retention
    30% 0%
  • buildings
    45 0
  • Greenfield site
    25 ha 0 ha

Adapting to rugged and remote conditions

Harsh and remote conditions proved a logistical and labour challenge for the project, as we worked through two wet seasons, as well as in high temperatures and humidity that regularly reached 100%.

To combat the trying environmental working conditions, we carried out a lot of the works during night shifts when it was cooler. In addition, to accommodate the team on such a large-scale project, we erected a full-size workers camp adjacent to the site along with amenities to provide a safe, clean and pleasant environment for workers.

To ensure the durability of the facilities and the comfort of inmates in various conditions, the building design and materials were subjected to a number of computer simulations to ensure they would perform in trying circumstances such as cyclone season and peak daytime heat. Additionally, all buildings were orientated to minimise solar radiation, maximise natural cross-ventilation, and are highly shaded to reduce heat loads.

Cooper & Oxley have been excellent partners in helping us achieve our objective of making a positive difference in the lives of our prisoners, staff and the wider community.

Andy Daniels, Director Strategic Asset Services
Department of Corrective Services

Working for the community and surrounds

During the project delivery, Cooper & Oxley teamed up with a Kimberley-based Indigenous training group to provide work and experience opportunities for local Indigenous labour, with a number of trades apprentices including plumbing, electrical and building working on the project at various points.

Great efforts were also made to protect and preserve existing natural bushland which forms the backbone of the landscaping onsite – with our team managing to retain 30% of the native vegetation.

  • Prisoner accommodation
    150 0
  • Project value
    $101 m $0 m
  • Peak daily workforce
    200+ 0+

An award-winning build valued at $101m, designed by TAG & Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects

The successful completion of the project has made a meaningful contribution to the future of WA corrective services and its commitment to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage within and outside its walls.