Urgent conservation works at Fremantle Prison

Former Australian prison, now a public Museum.
Former Australian prison, now a public Museum.

THE WA government is calling on its federal counterpart to match the $3.5 million state funding for urgent conservation works at Fremantle Prison.

The funds have been secured partially through the redirection of the 2019-20 Heritage Grants program, which will be unavailable during the 2019-20 financial year.

Fremantle Prison is one of the 11 member sites of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property.

The Federal Government funds Australia’s natural World Heritage properties but there is no ongoing funding for built World Heritage properties, including Fremantle Prison.

Fremantle Prison is one of the 11 member sites of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property.

Heritage Minister David Templeman has called on the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to at least match the State Government’s contribution to assist with the works in recognition of the prison’s World Heritage status.

Mr Templeman said maintaining an asset of national importance is a significant cost burden on WA.

“Fremantle Prison is the most intact complex of convict-built structures in Australia, recognised by UNESCO, with World Heritage listing as well as State and National heritage recognition,” he said.

“The McGowan Government is calling on the Federal Government to at least match our funding towards this internationally recognised heritage asset.

“Protecting Fremantle Prison and preserving its stories is important not only to Western Australians, but to all Australians.”

Heritage Minister David Templeman has called on the federal government to at least match the State Government’s contribution.

Mr Templeman launched the Fremantle Prison Master Plan 2019‑2029 and invited the public to comment on the proposals in the plan.

Initial works will see the cells within the main cell block repaired by local Aboriginal business Thuroona Services at a cost of $1 million.

The Fremantle Prison Master Plan 2019-2029 looks to the assets’ future activation and recommends a ‘Sound and Light’ show and ‘Night in Prison’ immersive experience to increase the prison’s appeal to the growing demand for heritage tourism and iconic attractions.

Independent analysis concludes the combined impact of these initiatives would see about 45,000 additional visitors per year, generating $5.3 million per year, and supporting nearly 50 additional jobs in Fremantle.

Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk said the prison was the most visited paid attraction in Fremantle, drawing about 200,000 visitors a year.

“Independent analysis of the economic and social impact of Fremantle Prison has found the prison made a direct contribution of $19.1 million to Fremantle’s regional economy in 2017-18,” she said.

Increased revenue from tours and new experiences on site will also be expected to improve the long-term self-sufficiency of Fremantle Prison.

The Fremantle Prison Master Plan 2019-2029 is open for public comment until November 3 and is available here.