Critical building works, mental health and community corrections are at the heart of a major funding package that supports community safety and acts on the unprecedented growth in Victoria’s corrections system.
In the 2015-16 Victorian Budget, the Andrews Labor Government will act to relieve the pressure on our prisons with the number of released prisoners back behind bars within two years set to jump to 45 per cent in 2015.
The Labor Government’s $332.8 million funding program will begin repairing the damage done by the previous Liberal Government and start the long process of stabilising our corrections system. It will provide up to 300 construction jobs.
The previous Liberal Government ignored the critical prison infrastructure necessary for health care and training and other rehabilitation programs that reduce recidivism.
Over the next four years the Labor Government will focus on the difficult task of slowing the rate of people returning to prison.
$88.9 million will be provided to expand the community corrections system to meet a continuing surge in demand. This includes $26 million for community corrections facilities, and $63 million to fund 147 more community corrections staff and an expanded suite of programs to help stop people progressing to prison.
The Labor Government is investing $124.9 million for critical infrastructure and services for men’s prisons to manage an increased population. This includes:
- $17.4 million to improve safety in 28 cells and expand the reception area at the Melbourne Assessment Prison
- $13.5 million to expand buildings for health, education and rehabilitation programs at Dhurringile, Beechworth and Langi Kal Kal prisons
- $9.5 million for eight new beds at Thomas Embling Hospital for prisoners and forensic patients with acute mental illness
- $17 million to upgrade the waste treatment plant for Barwon and Marngoneet Prisons to meet increasing demand
- $5.1 million to upgrade offices and increase the reception capacity of the Metropolitan Remand Centre
- $9.2 million to expand the health and education centre at Loddon Prison
- $7.5 million for an industry centre to train prisoners and help them get a job when they return to the community
This funding also includes $119 million to expand the women’s prison system, which is full and predicted to grow even more.
Victoria’s two women’s prisons, Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower, are at capacity. The previous Liberal Government did not fund any mental health services for female prisoners beyond July this year.
The Labor Government will provide a substantial injection of $53.2 million to help female prisoners – many of whom are victims of sexual assault or family violence – get the mental health treatment, and counselling and rehabilitation programs they need.
We will also ease the strain on women’s prisons by providing $65.7 million for building works, including 114 beds at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, to open by June 2017. This includes a 44-bed mental health unit and an expansion of the medical centre, kitchen and prison industries.
The Budget also includes a new 18-bed unit at Tarrengower Prison and a multipurpose building to be used for rehabilitation and education programs.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Corrections, Wade Noonan
“The Andrews Labor Government is acting to ease the strain on our corrections system and help keep our communities safe.”
“We strongly support a secure and workable prison system that gives prisoners the best shot at rehabilitation and keeps the community safe.”
“With recidivism set to reach 45 per cent this year, the Andrews Labor Government is getting on with investing in a corrections system under pressure.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020