ARARAT - Ararat Rural City Mayor, Cr Ian Wilson has welcomed a state government announcement of a $3 million expansion of Ararat's specialist sex offender residential facility, Corella Place.
The proposed project would increase the capacity of Corella Place by 15 beds from 40 to 55, with additional staff and security also added to support the new facilities.
"Council fully supports the proposed increase of 15 beds as it will have a significant ongoing benefit to the community providing ongoing employment opportunities including for staff at the facility," Cr Wilson said.
"The Ararat community has come to understand and accept the Corella Place facility and council is always mindful of the security and protection of people in the town."
Minister for Corrections, Edward O'Donohue said Victoria has one of the toughest and most effective post-sentence supervision schemes in Australia, and Corella was a critical part of its success.
Mr O'Donohue said the project was part of the state government's ongoing commitment to strengthening community safety.
"The existing residential facility plays an essential role in the management and ongoing rehabilitation of Victoria's most serious sex offenders," Mr O'Donohue said.
"Since 2006, Corella Place has provided strong protection for the Victorian public while also making sure these serious offenders receive appropriate therapy and rehabilitation.
"The expansion of Corella Place will give us an even greater capacity to manage offenders who the court believes still pose an unacceptable risk to the community at the end of their sentence."
Cr Wilson said a public meeting would be held on a yet to be determined date, giving residents the option to raise any questions about the project with representatives from the department of justice.
He said Ararat has a long history of providing corrections and mental health services but that the town is well serviced by many other industries as well.
“We have a diversity of industries in Ararat including manufacturing, food processing and retail.
“This expansion will only enhance all of those other industries and ensure the long term viability of our community.”
Mr O’Donohue also thanked the Ararat community for its ongoing support, saying the council and community had a long and fruitful relationship with the Department and Victoria’s corrections system.
“We will continue to work closely with the Ararat community to ensure Corella Place continues to play a critical role in keeping Victorians safe,” Mr O’Donohue said.
Under the proposed expansion, a neighbouring property (owned by the Department of Justice) will be transformed into resident accommodation.
The existing administration building will also be extended to accommodate the increase in staff required to manage new facilities and offenders.
“While the capacity will allow for future growth in the long term, the new facilities will give staff and clinicians greater flexibility when it comes to treating and managing these offenders,” Mr O’Donohue said.
Located next to Hopkins Correctional Centre (formerly Ararat Prison), Corella Place is a 40-bed community residential facility for serious sex offenders who have completed their jail sentence, but who still represent an unacceptable risk of reoffending.
Offenders are subject to stringent court-ordered treatment and supervision, including GPS monitoring, and cannot leave the facility unaccompanied.