Planning is underway to resume social visits to Western Australian prisons in line with the staged easing of COVID-19 restrictions by the McGowan Labor Government.
The Department of Justice, Corrective Services Division expects to reintroduce face-to-face visits at custodial facilities within a few weeks in accordance with current health advice for prisons.
Physical distancing will apply during visits and space is being made available.
Many prisoners have had access to e-visits with dedicated video conferencing kiosks created at several prisons.
Prisoners have also been granted free telephone calls and extra mail privileges.
The e-visits kiosks, which were fast-tracked during the pandemic, will remain in place after the COVID-19 measures have been further eased.
Other restrictions being lifted include the use of custodial gymnasiums and sporting ovals, and religious services have also resumed.
Corrective Services has also begun preparations – including risk assessments and discussions with local communities – so they can restart community work and other external programs for prisoners.
As stated by Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:
“When COVID-19 first threatened our State, WA’s Corrective Services moved quickly to prepare custodial facilities to deal with the risk.
“Stopping social visits was not an easy task and came with its own risks to the good order of a prison or custodial facility.
“But it is to the credit of the department and each custodial facility that they worked co‑operatively, including with prisoners, to put in place measures that almost completely eliminated the threat of the virus taking hold inside.
“Everyone’s health and safety remains our top priority as we work towards easing the restrictions we introduced to mitigate that risk of COVID-19 entering the custodial estate.
“We understand the importance of resuming social visits as soon as practicably possible but the process requires careful staging to reduce any risks.
“E-visits have helped make up for the loss of physical visits thanks to a rollout of kiosks. They will continue provide another contact option, particularly for prisoners whose family live abroad or interstate.”