A new visits area and playgrounds have opened at a western Sydney prison, providing a multi-purpose space for female inmates to connect with their loved ones and Aboriginal culture.
The two sections at Emu Plains Correctional Centre were carefully designed, marrying prison security requirements with Aboriginal themes.
Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the project was funded by the Federal Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which delivers programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with a focus on education and employment outcomes.
“We encourage inmates to maintain contact with their family and friends as it helps their rehabilitation and can reduce their chances of reoffending,” Mr Severin said.
“Prison visits areas can be cold and daunting environments, particularly for children, however modern design is enabling us to provide spaces that uphold respect for the custodial setting while also being more comfortable for visitors from the community.”
Emu Plains Manager of Security William McPhillips said the minimum-security inmates will also use the space for educational programs and rehabilitation activities.
“This transformed area is a quality learning environment for group classes, where women can write, create art and spend time in reflection,” Mr McPhillips said.
“The design of the space suits women’s particular learning needs and included consultation with an Aboriginal cultural expert to incorporate Indigenous themes, such as local flora, fauna and plant species, and artwork and symbols.”
There are about 320 women identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in custody across NSW, making up about 33 per cent of the female population.
McPhillips said the space accommodates different activities and ways for inmates to interact with others at Emu Plains Correctional Centre and the neighbouring Jacaranda Cottages.
“For many women, visits from family are the one thing they look forward to and we want to ensure that is a good experience for children, too,” Mr McPhillips said.
“The redesigned space will help women to build on their life skills, prepare them for life after incarceration and create a smoother transition from prison to life back in the community.”
The construction tender for the visits area refurbishment was won by GAPCOMM Interiors, with the works delivered on time by the Infrastructure and Assets Section of Communities and Justice.