This report assesses the management of a $30 million capital works project to increase the capacity of the Banksia Hill Detention Centre. The expansion of Banksia Hill was needed to accommodate juvenile detainees being moved out of the Rangeview Remand Centre so that it could be converted into the Wandoo young adult correctional facility. With the conversion of Rangeview, Banksia Hill became the sole juvenile detention facility in the State and there was no significant increase in overall juvenile detention capacity.
In January 2013, a major disturbance occurred at Banksia Hill that lead to significant damage to the facility and the temporary relocation of the majority of detainees to Hakea adult prison. While this incident was one of the prompts for undertaking this audit, its causes and impact are not a subject of this report. These matters have been examined and reported on by the Inspector of Custodial Services.
In the context of other capital works projects we have audited, this was not a large project. However, it carried significant risks and was complex. This stemmed in large part from building concurrently on 3 separate sites inside an operating, secure facility and with tight timelines. Unfortunately, governance and management arrangements were not matched to the risks and complexities of the project. Poor communication and optimistic reporting led to failures in understanding the real status of the project and a lack of effective action to address identified risks.
The result was a project that was delivered late, in turn delaying and adding cost to the opening of the Wandoo facility, and during which serious risks were realised. The causes of some of the problems were specific to building in a secure environment. But there are clearly lessons that apply more widely, particularly the importance of matching project governance and management to risk and complexity.
Once the detainees currently at Hakea are moved back to Banksia Hill, the centre will be at or close to its expanded capacity. The number of juveniles in detention has increased consistently and significantly over the last ten years. Having a single juvenile facility already at or close to capacity, with little room for further expansion, reduces DCS’ ability to cope with any further increases in the number of detainees, or any serious incidents at Banksia Hill.