Aboriginal people represent about three per cent of Western Australia's population, yet represent almost 40 per cent of the adult prison population. They are imprisoned for a variety of offences, though for the vast majority of these prisoners poverty and alcohol are common contributing factors to their offending.
Many live in remote areas of WA, such as the Kimberley. Being incarcerated away from family, their homelands and community causes people considerable stress that can result in depression and suicidal behaviour hindering rehabilitation.
In 2005, Kimberley Aboriginal Elders were asked to consult with their communities to determine what an appropriate prison might be for their people. The results of this report became the basis for the design of Australia's first culturally appropriate Indigenous prison.
The facilities design allows the prisoners to have access to their families, Elders, Lore and Culture and to develop skills that will allow them to gain employment when they are released.
The established plan of this facility is that of a utopian Aboriginal community ' except it is behind a high security perimeter. People live in houses in a self-care situation, and have access to education, training and rehabilitation programs.
In this campus styled facility, the buildings are located around a central football oval. The pindan woodland and grasses is retained where possible providing a natural bush setting. There is a separate precinct for 30 women that can also house mothers with babies. Within each building views are maintained into the natural landscape. Selected Prisoners have the ability to sleep inside their houses or on secure verandas.
The buildings are united by the folding planes of their ""ribbon-roofs"". These roofs change scale and form but fold to specific rules that provide unity to the differing scale of the 47 buildings within the facility; from gatehouse, to gym, to workshops to the medical centre and houses.
The environmental features included preservation of the natural landscape and biodiversity, minimisation of erosion across the site, the use of groundwater recharge via external compensation basins to the west of the site, conserving and protecting water quality and quantity by utilising a black water treatment plant that treats all wastewater to a standard suitable for spray irrigation on the lawns and oval, minimising the use of energy from fossil fuels by using solar hot water systems, a Photovoltaic array which directly powers the Gatehouse, reducing waste and encouraging recycling by using a 2-bin system and selecting appropriate building materials to minimise the embodied energy of the facility.