Frequently Asked Questions

The Prisoners Review Board was established under the Sentence Administration Act 2003 (WA) (the Act). Members of the Board come from all walks of life and a variety of cultural backgrounds. All members receive training. It started operation on 29 January 2007.

The main role of the Board is to conduct parole hearings and make decisions on the release of prisoners from prisons and other custodial facilities throughout Western Australia.

The Board is made up of a Chairperson, two Deputy Chairpersons, community members, representatives from the Corrective Services Division of the Department of Justice and Western Australia Police.

The Board’s chairperson, deputy chairperson and community members are nominated by the Attorney General and appointed by the Governor. The number of community members appointed can vary according to the workload of the Board.

Public sector officers are appointed by the CEO of the Department of Justice, while the police officers are appointed by the Police Commissioner. The number of Department officers and police officers appointed can also vary according to the workload of the Board.

There is a legislative requirement for a minimum of three members - a chair (or deputy), a community member and a departmental member; however there is no maximum number. Boards will be constituted of different of numbers of members depending on operational requirements.

Generally, the Board sits five days per week, in the morning. On occasions there may be two Boards sitting on the same day.

A victim of an offence, for which a prisoner is in custody, may lodge a written submission with the Board. This submission is placed on the prisoners file for consideration by the Board. These submissions are treated with the strictest confidence. The prisoner is not advised of these submissions.

The submission can:

  1. Describe the victim's opinion of the effect the release of the prisoner would have on them.
  2. Make suggestions about the conditions that should apply to the prisoner if released.

If a victim is incapable of making a submission due to age, disability or infirmity, another person may make a victim's submission on the victim's behalf.

Victim submissions are described in more detail in section 5C of the Act.

A victim can make a victim submission to the Board at any time from when a person is sentenced to imprisonment. The submission is then placed on the prisoners file for consideration at the prisoner’s next scheduled review by the Board.

No. The Board is bound by privacy legislation pursuant to section 119 of the Act and as such cannot release any information relating to a particular prisoner.

There are many factors the Board will consider when deciding whether to release a prisoner from custody. These considerations are set out in s5A and 5B of the Act.

Prison overcrowding is not taken into consideration when the Board determines whether or not to release a prisoner. The safety of the community is the paramount consideration, and each case is considered individually.

If you have questions regarding the management of prisons, including overcrowding, should be directed to Corrective Services.

Yes. A parole order is not be made if the prisoner has given written notice that he or she does not want to be released on parole under Section 33 (1) of the Act.

No. The Board is exempt from the requirement to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA), pursuant to Schedule 2 of that Act.

Under the Act there are two ways that a prisoner can seek to have their release on parole considered again by the Board (after the Board has denied, suspended or cancelled their parole). Either way, only the prisoner can seek to have their matter considered. A family member cannot make the request on a prisoner's behalf.

1) Requesting a review of the Board's decision

A request for a review of the decision to deny, suspend or cancel parole can be made on the grounds set out in s 115A(6) of the Act. Under section 115A the only grounds on which a prisoner may rely are that the Board, in making its decision:

  1. did not comply with the Act or the regulations
  2. made an error of law or
  3. used incorrect or irrelevant information or was not provided with relevant information.

A request for review must clearly identify which of these grounds are relevant to the prisoner's request. If a prisoner decides to request a review, they should make sure that they provide all the information which is relevant to their request.

The information should support one or more of the grounds on which the prisoner relies. A prisoner can only request a review one time and it is important that they provide all relevant information at that time. If new information has come to light since the decision i.e. a new address or inclusion in a programme, this would be a re-application rather than a request for a review.

Under subsection 115A(4) of the Act the decision made as a result of a request for review is not a reviewable decision. This means that the prisoner has only one opportunity to challenge the Board’s decision.

2) Re-applying for release after parole denied, suspended or cancelled.

The Board may consider a re-application request if the prisoner is able to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances and have reduced their risk of re-offending and the risk to the safety of the community.

Reasons for denying or cancelling parole will have been outlined in the decision letter. The new parole plan should outline how the prisoner has addressed these concerns.

A revised parole plan should address the release considerations of section 5A and 5B of the Act and include details of a significant change in circumstances, protective strategies and supports the prisoner will utilise to lead a law abiding life if released in the community on parole. 

The presentation of the same information and release plan does not constitute new information and/or a significant change in circumstances for the Board to consider as a re-application request.

Prisoners who consider re-applying for parole, should contact their Case Management Co-ordinator, Unit Supervisor or Community Corrections Officer who will be able to provide a copy of section 5A of the Act which details the release considerations of a prisoner to parole.

The reasons for the Board's decision providedin a letter sent to them from the Prisoners Review Board on the day of the decision. In the case of parole orders or amendments to parole orders, these reasons are contained on that order.

Under section 5A(f) and 5A(g) of the Act, when considering a matter, the Board will consider factors surrounding programme participation.

It means the Board considers the prisoner's release poses an unacceptable risk to the safety of the community because they have not received adequate treatment to address their offending behaviour. Treatment is usually provided by prisons in the form of programmes.

The unavailability of programmes for any reason, does not remove the requirement of the Board to consider the risk of re-offending and the risk to the safety of the community posed by a person's release if treatment needs have not been met. If the recommended  intensive treatment programmes are not be available, prisoners are encouraged to engage with voluntary organisations and programmes wherever possible, which could demonstrate motivation or willingness to address the offending behaviour.

The administration of all prisons, prison movements and services offered in prisons, including enrolment and participation in intensive treatment programmes, falls under the responsibility of Corrective Services. Complaints regarding the unavailability of programmes or any other prison matters including the treatment of prisoners, should be directed to the Corrective Services Division, Department of Justice.

Answer: The Board is not involved with prisoner programme enrolments or participation.

Successful programme completion will not necessarily result in release on parole. The Board will need to be satisfied, through the Programme Completion Report and other reports received from the prison and the Community Corrections Officer that the risk to the safety of the community has been reduced.

The Board must allow a minimum of eight weeks from the date of programme completion before it can consider a matter. This time allows four weeks for the facilitators to complete their report, adequate time for the Community Corrections Officer to complete their report, the availability of hearing dates at the Board and any public holidays. Adequate time is also required for undertaking of administrative duties in relation to file preparation by the Board and adequate time for the Board Members to read all information prior to the hearing date.

While programme facilitators may advise a prisoner that their completion report will be completed urgently, as a priority or within a few weeks, the minimum of eight weeks is required as outlined above.

No. Pursuant to section 119 of the Act, due to privacy considerations, the Board is unable to release any details to anyone other than the prisoner themselves.

The prisoner will generally be advised of a decision of the Board on the same date of the decision. If the prisoner does not know the outcome of a Board hearing, they will have to request this information from prison staff, or, alternatively, write to the Board. They cannot get someone, such as a family member or significant other, to ring the Board on their behalf and ask for an outcome.

Further, a prisoner cannot ring the Board themselves, as this is against both prison and Board policy.

Last updated: 3-Sep-2021

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