Ararat - Corrections Minister Edward O'Donohue visited Ararat to view the latest construction work on the Hopkins Correctional Centre and to thank workers and the Ararat community for their work and co-operation.
Touring the construction site on Thursday with member for Western Victoria Region David O'Brien, Mr O'Donohue saw first-hand just how much has been achieved since work recommenced early this year.
"Works are clearly progressing well on the new prisoner accommodation units, and we expect the first prisoners will move into their new accommodation in early 2014," Mr O'Donohue said.
"It is a credit to the workers here and the Ararat community that this project is now being delivered on time, after the Coalition Government was forced to resurrect it."
The 350-bed expansion of Hopkins Correctional Centre is generating a jobs boom in and around Ararat, with up to 600 workers on site each day.
"The Coalition Government is getting on with the job of delivering the prison beds needed to keep the community safe, and the new Hopkins Correctional Centre is a major part in this," Mr O'Donohue said.
Mr O'Brien highlighted the economic benefits for Ararat, now and into the future.
"The 350-bed expansion will deliver essential prison beds and will support jobs and local investment in Ararat long after construction is complete," Mr O'Brien said.
"Ararat has a long history of co-operating with Corrections Victoria to help run facilities in the area, and that co-operation has never been more obvious or more important than it is right now."
Mr O'Donohue said recruitment and training of additional staff at Hopkins is already well underway. The current squad of 19 prison officers will graduate later this month and a new squad is due to start training in late January.
The Department of Justice will also be advertising for an additional 50 new staff to support the larger prison in the new year.
Earlier this year, the Commonwealth, Bendigo and Adelaide banks appointed Brookfield Multiplex to complete the project following the financial collapse of the project's two previous builders.
The project is being delivered as a public-private partnership, with consortium Aegis responsible for the financing, design and construction. Mr O'Donohue thanked Ararat Rural City Council and the Community Advisory Group for its ongoing support throughout the life of the project.
"The Ararat community has been fantastic in its enthusiasm and support, and we look forward to working closely with them to deliver a safer community," he said.
"The Coalition Government is delivering the prison infrastructure and the jobs required to support a safe, secure and modern prison system," he said.
"A total of 725 new beds have opened since the start of 2011, with more than 2500 in the pipeline, including the new 1000-bed medium security prison at Ravenhall."
Major expansions are also being delivered at Marngoneet, the Metropolitan Remand Centre, Dhurringile, and Loddon Prison, with extra beds also added at other prisons across Victoria.
Construction on the Hopkins Correctional Centre expansion is due to be completed by the end of 2014.