Ararat violent offenders unit: advisory group formed

Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat.
Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat.

A new community advisory group has been formed to provide consultation for the planned secure centre to be built next to Hopkins Corrections Centre.

The centre will house violent and sexual offenders who have served their prison sentence but courts have deemed unsafe for release.

Non-confidential information will be released by the new group as the new centre’s planning progresses.

It will also be a forum for Ararat district residents to discuss the Hopkins Corrections Centre and Corella Place.

Five members have been appointed the advisory group so far, including former Ararat Rural City mayor Bill Jones, who has been named chair, and current mayor Paul Hooper.

Mr Jones said the group would be delivering public briefings as planning unfolds for the new centre.

“Our job is not to be a mouthpiece for corrections, and similarly not necessarily a mouthpiece for every voice in the community, but rather to be a voice for the whole community,” he said.

“We are conduit for the government and the community in both directions.”

Mr Jones said the advisory group members were all part of the Ararat community.

“Some of us have lived here a very long time and we are not going to facilitate something that will endanger our community,” he said.

Some of us have lived here a very long time and we are not going to facilitate something that will endanger our community

Advisory group chair Bill Jones

The new centre is part of the state government’s response to the Harper Review into post-sentence management of serious offenders.

The review was undertaken following the murder of 17-year-old Masa Vukotic in Melbourne in 2015.

Corrections Minister Gayle Tierney said it was important the Ararat community had its voice heard.

“This advisory group will ensure residents, businesses and other community leaders are consulted every stage of the way,” she said.

“Tonight’s meeting is a key milestone for the new secure facility, as we count down to construction later this year and the opening in 2018.”