Mental health treatment for women prisoners in Western Australia has entered a new era with the opening today of a $2.4 million dedicated unit at Bandyup Women’s Prison.
The 29-bed Bindi Bindi mental health unit will accommodate and treat prisoners with a mental illness using clinical care alongside trauma-informed and recovery-focused approaches.
It is the first prison unit in WA dedicated solely to mental health and will be accessible to all women across the WA prison estate.
The Government provided an additional $4.7 million in funding for staff, training and furnishings for the unit.
It comprises 23 sub-acute beds for prisoners whose mental health needs cannot be safely managed in mainstream units and six beds for women who are acutely unwell.
Prisoners will begin moving into the unit next month.
All staff who will be working with the women have undertaken a carefully curated training program.
The care provided is aimed at supporting and stabilising the mental health needs of prisoners and assisting them back into the community.
The name Bindi Bindi, the Noongar word for butterfly, represents the vision of the unit to transform women to optimal health and help them lead successful and purposeful lives in the community when released.
While the Bindi Bindi unit will accommodate acute cases, women prisoners will continue to be transferred to available beds at the Graylands Health Campus’ Frankland Centre for acute inpatient care and/or involuntary treatment.
As stated by Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston:
“The prevalence of mental illness in our prisons presents a significant challenge and makes Corrective Services one of the biggest mental health providers in the State.
“The opening of the Bindi Bindi unit follows a 2019 review which led to the establishment of the Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs branch, whose services are delivered by multidisciplinary teams made up of highly specialised staff.
“Bindi Bindi will help improve the mental health of prisoners in a non-threatening environment, aiding their rehabilitation and making prisons and the community safer places.
“It follows the successful establishment of Wandoo Rehabilitation Prison, the State’s first dedicated alcohol and other drug rehabilitation prison for women, and the Mallee AOD unit at Casuarina Prison.
“A 34-bed mental health unit for male prisoners is expected to open in 2024 at Casuarina as part of that prison’s expansion.”