Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women (2006)
Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women is a leader in the field of justice. In an innovative project which is the first of its kind in Australia, the Department of Corrective Services has adopted a forward-looking model of imprisonment that recognises the diverse needs of women inmates.
The program structure and daily activities at Boronia mirror the responsibilities faced by women in everyday life and support a strong family and community focus. Boronia accommodates up to 70 women and their children in a community setting. The women live in Homeswest style housing and are responsible for their own cooking, cleaning, budgeting and grocery shopping at the Centre’s supermarket.
The women are required to work or study during their time at Boronia and can enrol in traineeships in areas such as hospitality, horticulture, retail operations, asset management and retail supervision. Those involved in the hospitality course cater for many government and community functions. Through improved health, work and education skills, the women are empowered to take responsibility for their life choices, and therefore the risk of re-offending after release is significantly reduced.
Not only does Boronia help prisoners rebuild their lives, it also makes a positive contribution to the wider community. Boronia’s unique community engagement and volunteer program builds mutually beneficial links with the community and local organisations. The women undertake valuable work in local businesses and not-for-profit organisations, encouraging them to develop new skills and build self-esteem as well as establish future employment links prior to their release.
Boronia women support many organisations such as their neighbours at Swan Care Group, Rowethorpe and the Baptist Theological College, as well as Edventures WA, Leeuwin Tall Ship, women’s refuges, the ACTIV Foundation, Santa’s Workshop and many more.
It has taken a great deal of vision and courage from key people to challenge the norm and pursue such an unconventional pathway. The development of Boronia initially attracted opposition within the community, but through tremendous leadership, determination and persistence, the community now largely embraces and supports the Centre.
The recidivism rate of women released from Boronia is less than one-third of the national average. This is testament to its success, brought about by the vision and leadership of its founders and the management of the current Superintendent and her team. In addition, the continued support of both the current Minister and Commissioner for Corrective Services has been vital to the continued advancement of Boronia.
Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women is indeed a most worthy recipient of the John Curtin Medal.