Acacia Prison contract extended for Serco


Acacia Prisoners performed A Midsummer Night's Dream at Acacia Prison in November last year, as part of a rehabilitation program.
Acacia Prisoners performed A Midsummer Night's Dream at Acacia Prison in November last year, as part of a rehabilitation program.

SERCO Australia has welcomed a five-year contract extension to manage Acacia Prison, the biggest prison in Australia.

Chief executive Mark Irwin said the decision came after independent endorsement of efficiencies at the Wooroloo prison.

Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said the renewed contract was good news for taxpayers, with an estimated saving of $55 million over five years.

He said $33.3 million would come from lower daily prison costs, with no change to service standards.

“The contract cost per prisoner at Acacia will come down from $156 to $144,” he said.

“By comparison, the average cost per prisoner per day across the entire adult prison estate is $332.”

A further $22 million will come from another 75 beds at Acacia for prisoners from higher-cost prisons.

The additional beds will take the maximum capacity at the medium-security prison to 1470.

Serco has agreed to pay the cost of extra beds and improvements to security and prison management.

“There will also be increased financial penalties, or abatements, in the event of an escape or other serious incident,” the minister said.

Serco chief executive Mark Irwin said the Economic Regulation Authority found Acacia was among the best prisons in the state.

“Through this excellent performance, we have delivered tens of millions of dollars of savings to Government over the past half decade,” he said.

“I’m pleased that we will be providing even greater value to WA taxpayers over the next five years.” Serco has managed Acacia Prison since 2006 and a 387-bed expansion last year took capacity to 1395 inmates.

Education, work, vocational training and other programs are in place to help reduce reoffending and encourage rehabilitation.

Mr Irwin said the contract extension was an endorsement of the work by teams at Acacia.

The prison has a Young Adult Community unit for young offenders to take part in programs that build life and vocational skills.

“This is the same expertise which has seen us achieve one of the lowest reoffending rates in the country at the Wandoo Reintegration Facility,” Mr Irwin said.

New education and vocational training activities at Acacia include Certificate II in Trade Pathways, Certificate IV in Project Management and Certificate II in Frontline Management.

However, the WA Prison Officers Union has questioned the measures Serco will take to make up for the $33 million reduction in its contract to manage Acacia.

Union secretary John Welch said he was concerned about the shortfall.

“It will have to make changes to maintain its profits, and we are very concerned that it will try to find savings in its staffing budget or cut corners in other ways,” he said.

ACACIA GRANTS TO THE COMMUNITY

Community groups are encouraged to apply for a grant of up to $2000 through Acacia Prison.

Sponsorships are open to local groups or organisations involved in the reduction of youth crime.

“We are looking for groups who, like us, believe community activities for youth play an important role in preventing young people entering the criminal justice system,” Serco’s Acacia director Nick Cameron said.

Groups in the Swan and Mundaring area, or organisations serving the Perth Hills, need to apply for the grants before April 15.

For more information, visit www.serco-ap.com.au/acaciacommunity