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Riverbank Prison

From my past life experiences living on the streets, I heard a lot of traumatic and horrible stories from the older homeless guys who'd spent time in there as youngsters. The typical, institutional violence, sexual abuse and life-changing trauma typical of many similar places of the time. (I can't help but think of the horrors at Hillston Farm School but I don't think Riverbank was anywhere as bad!)


Riverbank was a secure care facility for males aged between 13-18 years of age between 1960-1996. Most notably, the legendary Bon Scott leader singer of AC/DC (1946-1980). It was believed that almost all the boys initially admitted to Riverbank, were Wards of the State.


It was set to be the first maximum security reformatory in Australia for teenaged boys, established by the Child Welfare Department (later renamed the Department of Community Development). The purpose was to address the boys' welfare needs as well as their offending behaviour. The focus was on 'work skills training.'


Upon being discharged, boys would be placed under the supervision of an after-care scheme, similar to that of parole. - Reformatory: 1) an institution to which young offenders are sent as an alternative to prison 2) tending or intended to produce reform

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1957 (February) - The State Government purchases the block of land in Caversham, previously owned by market gardener Rafaelle Masolini (1886-1973).


1960 (May 12) - Riverbank is established to house 33 boys (some reports say 30), with a staff of 21 people, including a matron and up to 8 tradesmen/teachers.


1969 - 10 new cabins, a meeting room, a second classroom and additions to the store room for use as a hobby room, are built.


1970 - 43 boys can now be housed at one time.


1978 - Additions are made to the night office with an observation post to look out into the quadrangle, a new kitchen, air conditioning and upgrades to cells which incorporated new toilets, basins, a writing table and timber floors being replaced with concrete covered with vinyl. The sallyport is built to allow secure transport movement of juveniles.


1993 (July 1) - Responsibility of the facility is transferred to the Ministry of Justice.


1996 - Riverbank closes down.


1998 - Riverbank is re-commissioned as a 50-bed adult prison for those deemed vulnerable - mostly sexual offenders and/or intellectually disabled prisoners.


2001 (May 5) - Acacia Prison, Western Australia's first privately managed prison, opens and many, if not most of those incarcerated at Riverbank, are transferred there.


2001 (June) - Funding for Riverbank was originally planned not to continue past June.


2001 (December) - Riverbank was expected to close in or by December.


2010 (May) - It's now 50 years since Riverbank was first established. Adult offenders on work orders are refurbishing the facility at a cost of $2 million, so it can run a number of programs for both juvenile and adult offenders to participate in traineeships, education, employment and training skills. Renovations are expected to be completed by December.


2011 - It appears that Riverbank is being used as administrative headquarters for the Community Work Management Unit.


2015 - Riverbank is vacant (or abandoned?).


2021 - SOMEONE STEALS THE CRICKET WICKETS!! That is so un-Australian!! It's like stealing a flaming emu, for frog sake!!!!


The last update I heard about Riverbank was that the State Government was preparing it for sale. Just like the McCall Centre in Cottesloe and many other locations where somehow... it's a process that takes no less than eight years !?!

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