GIS - 15 September, 2014: The Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Ms. Natasha Stott Despoja, proceeded yesterday to the inauguration of a new Self-Care Unit at the Women Prison in Beau Bassin, in the presence of Senior Chief Executive, Prime Minister’s Office, Mrs. K.O. Fong Weng-Poorun, and the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr. Jean Bruneau.
The introduction of the Self-Care Unit is part of Government’s broader strategy for the modernisation of prisons and a focus on reducing re-offending. This concept has been introduced following a study tour of the prison staff to Western Australia and with the support of Mr William Cullen, United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime Prisons Advisor.
The Self-Care Unit will provide eight detainees with the privilege of a less ‘institutional’ life and improved preparation for release. They will cook their own meals and in a purpose renovated building in the prison, live in more normal, domestic-style accommodation with a kitchen, dining and sitting area, and small garden for cultivating vegetables. One of the skills acquired in such a unit is that of learning to live cooperatively in a group and work out problems amicably.
Concept of Self- Care
According to the Commissioner of Prisons, this concept provides a strong incentive to all detainees to demonstrate respectful behaviour, trustworthiness, good conduct and industry, in order to be eligible for entry to the unit. ‘Detainees will still be subject to the supervision, discipline and work requirements of the prison, and will be expected to exercise a higher level of self-discipline and self-responsibility to live in the unit’, he said.
The concept of Self-Care is now widely used in many countries including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia for detainees at all security levels. It is extensively used as part of preparation for release by ensuring that detainees have the necessary skills for self-care.
The Self Care meets international human rights requirements for detainees to be treated with respect and dignity, and to minimise the institutionalising effects of imprisonment.
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