An Aboriginal woman gave birth alone in her cell at Bandyup women's prison in Perth, despite calls for help. Her name and age are not being released to protect her privacy.
It’s believed the new mum was 36 weeks pregnant when she gave birth, with most pregnancies tend to last 40 weeks and any babies delivered before 37 weeks is determined premature.
The Guardian is reporting that the woman repeatedly pressed a cell alarm button for assistance, but gave birth before prison and medical staff arrived. There are additional reports from the ABC that staff attempted to assist her, but were unable to open the cell door.
A spokesperson for the West Australian Justice Department said the incident was “extremely rare”.
"Pregnant women are medically assessed when received into custody and provided with ongoing prenatal care and support that are commensurate with health standards in the wider community," the spokesman said to ABC Perth.
The independent Inspector of Custodial Services, Professor Neil Morgan was made aware of the incident the following morning and sent in a list of 20 questions to the department.
Professor Morgan said the prison needs ensure this won’t happen again and the prison needs to work on their response times.
“The fact that it’s rare doesn’t mean we should not be looking to get to the bottom of what has happened,” he said.
This incident comes just a week after it was reported another Aboriginal prisoner was found naked and covered in blood in the back of a prison van.
The 20-year-old woman was being transferred to Graylands Hospital in August last year. She has since been released and is living with her grandmother, and the Department has issued an apology to her family for the incident.
The West Australian Justice Department is still investigating the incident.