Aboriginal incarceration: a new model by design

The design of the West Kimberley Regional Prison in Derby, Western Australia, prioritises the health and wellbeing of the prisoners it accommodates, people who are mostly indigenous and come from the northern part of Western Australia.

Designed by two Perth-based architecture firms, iredale pedersen hook Architects and TAG Architects, and opened in 2012, the campus-style prison features 42 buildings that deliberately connect with the landscape, minimise the sense of being enclosed, and provide opportunities for prisoners to improve their life skills and employment training. The design of the buildings and the spaces around them also take into account cultural sensitivities and kinship networks.

Housing both male and female prisoners in low, medium and high security facilities, the prison garnered international attention for its humane approach to incarceration when it first opened.

Through its design and operating ethos, it prioritises the needs of indigenous Kimberley prisoners and their families to deliver better rehabilitation and training outcomes; lower the rate of re-offending; and reduce the social and economic costs of the justice system. 

Read more about the design of this pioneering prison project here.

All photography by Peter Bennetts