Multiple failings at Melaleuca Women’s Prison continue nearly two years into Sodexo contract

The Annual Report of the Melaleuca Remand and Integration Facility (Melaleuca Women’s Prison) reveals concerning details about the management of the privately operated prison, Greens spokesperson for Corrective Services Hon Alison Xamon MLC has said.

Ms Xamon said that, according to the Report, Sodexo’s overall performance operating the maximum security facility was “unsatisfactory”, while custodial staff training and operational readiness continued to be “less than satisfactory”.  

She said the report showed the government had issued Sodexo with 12 Performance Improvement Notices (PINs) across a range of areas including incident reporting, restraining orders, family days and key security. In addition, 11 abatements of between $15,000 and $50,000 were issued for matters including failures to report and failures to comply with PINs.

“I am particularly concerned with the repeated reporting inadequacies,” Ms Xamon said.

“There is always a risk that things can go wrong in restricted-access facilities like prisons, and revelations about the treatment of young people in the Don Dale youth facility in the Northern Territory are a recent example of this.

“It is therefore crucial that actions within the prison are transparent and open to scrutiny, and this requires accurate and timely incident reporting.”  

Ms Xamon said the report also showed Sodexo was failing to meet its obligations to provide social visits for prisoners – a particularly important initiative given that many female prisoners are mothers.

She said the women held at Melaleuca were a complex and vulnerable population and it was important for the safety of staff, the community, and prisoners themselves, that Sodexo get it right.

“Privately run publicly funded prisons must be transparent and accountable. We need to know that, at a minimum, prisoner’s human rights are being respected, however, without proper reporting it is impossible to accurately know what is happening,” Ms Xamon said.

“My questions in Parliament in 2017 revealed Sodexo had been issued with three abatements totally $75,000 in the first four months of the prison’s operation. It has now been close to two years since the prison began operating and outcomes have failed to improve.

“This has gone on for too long. Is the responsibility of the Minister for Corrective Services to ensure that it is fixed.”



  • Melaleuca began operating as a remand and integration facility on 15 December 2016
  • The five year contract awarded to Sodexo expires on 15 December 2021
  • In April 2018 the Inspector of Custodial Services reported on his 2017 inspection of Melaleuca. The report identified significant concerns and made 25 recommendations for improvement
  • The concerns raised by the Inspector included ill-suited infrastructure, inappropriate contract pricing which hampered service delivery, issues with transfers to and from Bandyup, inadequate staffing levels and staff training, a lack of prisoner programs, and inadequate dental and psychology services  
  • Women prisoners have different needs to male prisoners; they often have a history of trauma, including as survivors of domestic violence
  • Mental health issues and substance abuse often feature strongly in their histories
  • Many female prisoners are mothers with pressing family responsibilities
  • About half of female prisoners in WA are Aboriginal