Aboriginal Legal Service WA raises concerns over delays of air-con installation at Roebourne Regional Prison

Katya MinnsPilbara News
Roebourne’s jail still does not have air-conditioning installed.
Camera IconRoebourne’s jail still does not have air-conditioning installed. Credit: West Regional

The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA has again raised concerns over a lack of air-conditioning at Roebourne Regional Prison amid record-breaking heatwaves in the Pilbara.

The WA Government announced in November 2022 that air-conditioning would be expanded to all cells at the prison after temperatures soared to “over 50 tortuous degrees” during that summer.

The works were due to take place in the 2023-24 financial year after a tender process, which ended on January 3 this year.

On Monday, ALSWA said in a statement it was “distressing” that prisoners were still living in cells without air-conditioning in conditions that could prove fatal from heat stress or heat stroke.

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Cells at the Roebourne Regional Prison.
Camera IconCells at the Roebourne Regional Prison. Credit: Steve Pennells/WA News

“The relentless heat places the lives of inmates at great risk and the Government cannot drop the ball given the failure of the tender process,” said ALSWA chief executive Wayne Nannup.

“It needs to find a way, and quickly, to ensure that air-conditioning is installed as a matter of urgency.”

Roebourne Airport recorded a temperature of 49.5 degrees on December 31st which was followed by a scorching January reaching temperatures up to 47.6 degrees, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

This month has not fallen below 35 degrees.

A WA Department of Justice spokesperson said the installation of air-conditioning is in progress but could not provide a timeline.

“Tenders are being evaluated for the installation of air-conditioning in the main accommodation units at Roebourne Regional Prison,” they said.

ALSWA urges the WA Government to “act swiftly” on the installation of air-conditioning in prison cells and remains “extremely concerned” about any further delays.

“WA cannot continue to wait and watch as the inmates stay locked up in such unacceptable, inhumane and life-threatening conditions,” Mr Nannup said.

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