THE installation of relocatable units at Fulham Correctional Centre will create at least 20 new jobs for the local area.
State Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue announced on Wednesday the facility would receive 18 fitted-out shipping container cells to help accommodate the state’s growing prison population.
The 18 cells will be able to accommodate a total of 54 prisoners, taking the Fulham prison’s capacity to 863.
The minister and prison management attempted to allay fears the new medium security cells would create further unrest.
“The community should be confident knowing that it has been many, many years since a prisoner escaped from a secure walled prison and the appropriate infrastructure is being provided to accommodate the additional 54 beds,” Mr O’Donohue said.
The new cells, which will accommodate three prisoners each, will be ready to use at Fulham by August.
“This will generate up to 20 full-time, ongoing jobs once those beds are delivered and up to 40 jobs during construction,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“It will be very good for the local economy, good for economic activity, good for jobs growth in this part of Gippsland.
Mr O’Donohue said changes to the state parole system, making it harder for inmates to leave prison early, had forced the government to increase the capacity of prisons.
Shipping containers, the minister said, had been used effectively in prisons in New Zealand, Western Australia and South Australia.
“I am very confident that this will be appropriate accommodation for these prisoners and deliver additional capacity to the Victorian prison system while at the same time, generating new jobs and economic activity here in Sale,” he said.
More than 120 shipping containers have already been installed in Victorian prisons this year.
Fulham Correctional Centre general manager Trevor Craig said the extra jobs after the cells were installed would include guards, nursing, program and administration positions.
“I want to see an opportunity to deliver more programs for violent offenders,” he said.
“I have a real belief that we’ve got to work hard to resettle people into the community so they don’t re-offend.
“I’m hoping to set this unit up for violent offenders where we deliver programs, education and industry and working towards that resettlement so they don’t re-offend,” he said.
Corrections Victoria Commissioner Jan Shuard said the shipping containers were a good standard of accommodation.
“The prisoners certainly seem to like them,” she said.
“They’re pretty self-contained, they’ve got a good floor space, they’ve got their own showers.
“They’ll be upgraded for these medium security prisons.”
Wellington Shire deputy mayor Patrick McIvor welcomed the news.
“I welcome the government’s continued commitment to an important facility in our region and am hopeful that the supporting community services surrounding the facility are supported accordingly by the state government,” he said.