Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue has opened a major expansion of Victoria’s largest maximum security prison, as new beds continue to open across the prison system.
Joined by Member for Western Metropolitan Region Andrew Elsbury for the opening of the new 118-bed Matilda Unit at Port Phillip Prison, Mr O’Donohue said the Victorian Coalition Government is undertaking one of the largest expansions of the prison system in Victoria’s history.
Mr O’Donohue said the additional beds at Port Phillip have created 60 new jobs and boosted the prison’s capacity to 1,107.
“As Victoria’s largest maximum security prison, Port Phillip plays a critical role in managing some of our most difficult and hard-to-manage offenders,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“The Coalition Government has planned and funded the ongoing upgrade of Victoria’s corrections system to support a safer Victoria, and we’re seeing the results today.
“The new beds at Port Phillip are the first of hundreds to open across the system before the end of the year.
“This new infrastructure will support the crucial community safety and parole reforms introduced by the Napthine Government.
“It’s also part of the Coalition Government’s strategy to address the previous Labor government’s shameful neglect of the prison system.
The Auditor-General found that Labor was told three times to build a new prison and failed to do so.
Mr O’Donohue said the work started on the expansion in late 2012 and was completed earlier this month, with prisoners due to start moving in next week.
In addition to the new beds, the more-than-$30-million expansion delivered new facilities for the larger prison population.
The admissions building has been expanded, with new processing and administration areas and new holding cells for prisoner movements in and out of the prison.
A new central movement building will increase secure transition of prisoners internally, while two new industries and education buildings will provide training and education for the larger prisoner population.
More than 1,300 new prison beds have opened since the start of 2011, with more than 2,700 beds in the pipeline, including the new 1000-bed medium security Ravenhall prison in Melbourne’s west.
Opened in 1997, Port Phillip Prison employs more than 440 staff, manages more than 25,000 prisoner movements every year, and more than 200 visitors every day.
Mr O’Donohue said the Coalition Government’s prison expansion continues to support jobs across Victoria, with the new facilities at Port Phillip creating around 60 additional full-time and part-time roles for prison officers, management and health and training staff.
“The investment in Victoria’s prison system in not only supporting a safer community, it is creating an estimated 1,477 full-time ongoing operational jobs and up to 2,780 construction jobs,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“More than 200 prison officers have been employed this year, and recruitment is continuing across Victoria’s prison system to support a safer Victoria.”