Fremantle Prison is WA's only World Heritage listed building. Built by convicts in the 1850's, the prison was used as a place of incarceration for 136 years until its closure in 1991. Fremantle Prison's Services Building was remodelled into the first prison for women in Western Australia in 1889. This adaptation demonstrates the diversity of function, philosophy and segregation methods applied to women's incarceration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
As part of the Fremantle Prison World Heritage Site, the Women's Prison is an example of a prison within a prison, a self-contained complex with its own service facilities that held up to 60 female prisoners. In 1970, due to overcrowding and inadequate living conditions, the inmates were transferred to the purpose-built Bandyup Women's Prison.
The Women's Prison was then converted into an education and counselling centre for male prisoners, expressing changing attitudes towards prisoners and their rehabilitation, and towards the nature and purpose of incarceration.
It officially closed in 1991, with staff and prisoners transferred to a new maximum security prison. Fremantle Prison's historical significance was investigated and plans to preserve it as a significant heritage site were put into place, and in 2010, it was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.