Bandyup Prison allows some inmates to keep their babies with them until the children are a year old.
Bandyup Prison allows some inmates to keep their babies with them until the children are a year old. Perth Now

Newborn allowed to stay with mother in prison

A BABY girl won't be separated from her mother at Bandyup Prison following "intense negotiations" between the WA Government and lawyers for the mum.

The Aboriginal Legal Service of WA claims it was on the cusp of taking urgent Supreme Court action so the baby, who was born on Tuesday, could stay with her mum.

A special nursery and accommodation area at the prison was full and authorities were refusing to provide a cot and other necessities in an alternative area, the ALS claims.

ALS chief executive Dennis Eggington said he was pleased a solution had been found on Friday.

"We know the devastating effects of separating babies from their mothers, so we're relieved the Government has found a solution to ensure this baby can stay with her mother," he said.

A Department of Justice spokesman said the department tried to ensure inmates could remain with their newborns. He said the department recognised "the importance of bonding".

"At Bandyup Women's Prison there are eight beds available in a separate accommodation area to support this; an area specifically for mothers and young children, including newborns, with auxiliary services in place.

"All pregnant women entering into custody are advised of this accommodation and can apply for placement, with applications subject to a risk assessment, approval by other agencies and availability."

Following an inspection at Bandyup last December, WA's Independent Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan recommended the expansion of nursery facilities at Bandyup.

His report stated: "Nursery houses were at full capacity and pregnant women (including those in their third trimester) were residing in units across Bandyup. Some women were told there was a risk they could not have their babies reside with them due to a lack of space."

The Human Rights Law Centre's Director of Legal Advocacy, Ruth Barson, called on the WA Government to fix "the long-standing problems at Bandyup once and for all".

"Last month an Aboriginal woman at Bandyup was forced to give birth alone in her cell. Last year, a woman was transported from Bandyup to a hospital naked, handcuffed and covered in her own blood," she said, referring to incidents revealed by The Sunday Times.

This article originally appeared on Perth News and has been reproduced here with permission.


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