Big benefits

REGION - Hundreds of new jobs are being created as locals continue to benefit from the major prison expansion projects taking place across the region.

The Hopkins Correctional Centre expansion reached a major milestone in January with the first new prisoner accommodation units completed. At Lang Kal Kal Prison, 186 new beds have been opened in the past two years and construction of six new 21-bed units is underway.

Announcing the latest recruitment drive for prison officers, Department of Justice Acting Grampians Regional Director Patrick McCormick said there was a huge range of opportunities for local job-seekers.

"Our prison system is growing rapidly and we need experienced people for the many rewarding positions on offer," he said.

"The expansion of Ararat's Hopkins Correctional Centre, the adjoining transitional facility Corella Place and Langi Kal Kal Prison near Trawalla have created more than 200 ongoing jobs.

"This year, the department is holding a number of recruitment drives to fill roles including prison officers, business and corporate support roles, industry officers, and clinical and health workers."

One of those who couldn't speak more highly of the opportunities he's had is senior prison officer Justin McMahon, now currently acting up as the staff development manager for both Grampians region prisons.

The married father of two who grew up on a family farm south of Ararat entered the prison system almost six years ago and hasn't looked back.

"As a trainer I facilitate new recruits and have the opportunity to take on different roles and act up as a senior myself," he said.

"This is all within a team oriented environment which means working with each other at the prison, but then being able to spend time together outside as well, so it has social benefits too."

Mr McMahon said he appreciates the advantages of the position he has in the country compared to someone with one similar in the city.

"I gloat about the fact it takes me just seven minutes to get from my home to work of a morning," he said.

"I'm being paid the same as someone who has to sit in traffic for 30 to 40 minutes every day before they get to work in Melbourne.

"On top of that I have what is a safe, stable and secure job and haven't had to leave that small town feel behind because of the employment opportunity which is just at my back door."

Mr McCormick said prison jobs such as Mr McMahon's are a great opportunity for a rewarding and stimulating career close to home.

"We are looking for people with sound communication skills and life experience, as well as individuals with experience in trades and services to work in our prison industries," he said.

"Our staff love working in prisons because of the safe, interesting and rewarding working environment.

"Many staff have said they never thought they'd find themselves working in a prison, and now wouldn't work anywhere else.

"These are great roles with good working conditions, a positive culture and a supportive environment."

Department of Justice employees receive ongoing professional development and training, access to employee assistance programs and recreation facilities.

Watch a video about working as a prison officer in the Grampians region at corrections.vic.gov.au/grampiansprisons or visit cvcareers.com.au to apply now for prison officer roles.

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