Ararat prison expansion: 60 new beds available

SIXTY new beds will be available at Ararat's Hopkins Correctional Centre by the end of next week.

Premier Denis Napthine and Minister for Corrections Edward O'Donohue opened the first stage of Ararat prison's 350-bed expansion on Tuesday.

Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper said final security checks were being completed on some of the cottages before prisoners were moved into the Canton unit.

The unit will house prisoners in six or seven-bed cottages and is designed for older prisoners with health and mobility issues.

"They will have their own facilities for cooking the units are adequate for their needs, but they're not flash or anything like that," Cr Hooper said.

The unit will be supervised from its own officers' post and is connected to the existing prison's security systems.

Dr Napthine said the opening of the Canton unit was an important step in the prison's expansion.

"This project will almost double the prison's capacity from 388 beds to 738 beds and will address the significant demand for beds in the prison system while generating jobs and investment in and around Ararat," he said.

He said the Ararat prison expansion had created 150 ongoing jobs.

Cr Hooper said the prison provided a major economic boost for the municipality.

He said construction workers from outside the region, who did not want to travel, were renting houses.

"They're all eating out, socialising and buying groceries," he said.

"The flow-on effect benefits Ararat businesses."

Cr Hooper said when the expansion was finished, the prison would be Ararat's biggest employer.

"As it grows, our economy will continue to grow," he said.

He said Wimmera residents should consider employment opportunities at Hopkins Correctional Centre.

Nineteen new prison officers graduated before Christmas and a new squad of recruits is due to start training this month.

"They're still looking for more people," Cr Hooper said.

"If there are people in Horsham looking for good, well-paid jobs they should come here," he said.

"We are open for business."

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