Prison Officers’ Union disappointed over government decision

The WA Prison Officers’ Union said it was very disappointed the State Government had named a private provider as the preferred operator for WA’s new Women’s Remand and Reintegration Facility at Hakea prison.

The government has announced it’s entering into negotiations with Sodexo Australia, which are expected to be complete by the end of July.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said he was disappointed that the private operator had been chosen ahead of a bid by the public sector to run the 256 bed facility.

“We had worked on an outstanding public sector cost comparator and therefore we are disappointed that this decision has been made, which we believe is based partly on ideology,” he said.

“WA’s prison system is suffering chronic overcrowding, with the prison population heading towards a record 6300 prisoners.

“So much of the strain has been born by public prisons and this decision is a slap in the face for all those staff who have done outstanding work to manage this overcrowding crisis.

“The government is basically telling experienced public sector staff that they’re not up to the job of managing the new prison, and it would prefer to give the contract to one of the world’s largest multinational corporations instead.”

The $24.3 million dollar women’s prison is due to open in December 2016, however the union was sceptical it would open on time.

“Bandyup is well over its design capacity, and is managing extraordinary levels of overcrowding,” said Mr Welch.

“In our view, if the government brings in a new private provider, it will slow down the entire process of opening the new prison, which means the situation at Bandyup will not improve any time soon.”

The government said if negotiations between the State and Sodexo were unsuccessful, the facility would be operated by the Department of Corrective Services.