REGION - Minister for Corrections Edward O'Donohue has announced 50 new beds for minimum-security Langi Kal Kal Prison during a visit to a prisoner work site in the fire-affected Grampians region.
Mr O'Donohue, who was joined by Member for Western Victoria region Simon Ramsay, announced the new beds during his visit to Dadswells Bridge, where prisoners have been working to repair and replace fences destroyed by the January bushfires.
He said the new prison beds - to be installed in 25 relocatable accommodation units - would continue to support employment and economic development in the Grampians region, which is already benefiting from the major expansion of Hopkins Correctional Centre.
The accommodation units, or dongas, are widely used in mining sites as well as in prisons in Western Australia, South Australia and New Zealand. They have already been installed at Dhurringile Prison near Shepparton, and will soon open at Beechworth Prison as well.
"The Victorian Coalition Government continues to deliver the infrastructure, the beds and the jobs needed to build a safer community and stronger corrections system," Mr O'Donohue said.
"The 50 new beds at Langi Kal Kal, together with the new units already under construction, will generate close to 60 ongoing jobs and up to 40 construction jobs.
"Putting prisoners to work on fire recovery projects is just one way our prisons make a real difference in western Victoria, and the ongoing expansion of the prison system provides even more opportunity to strengthen these partnerships."
Devastating bushfires forced the closure of the Grampians National Park during January's peak tourist season and damaged local farming properties.
For weeks, a Landmate crew from Hopkins Correctional Centre has been working with local farmers around Dadswells Bridge to remove, repair and replace fences destroyed by the fires.
Mr O'Donohue said that prisoners have removed approximately 9.2 kilometres of damaged fencing, installed one kilometre of new fencing and repaired three kilometres of damaged farm fences.
Mr Ramsay said that for more than 20 years, Landmate crews have supported farmers in regional Victoria by performing work that wouldn't have otherwise been possible.
"Recognising the important role that Landmate plays in regional Victoria, the Coalition Government has now ensured its ongoing funding," Mr Ramsay said.
Mr O'Donohue said the Landmate crew was also helping farmers in the Black Range area of the Grampians with erosion control after the recent fires.
He said other prisons across Victoria also stood ready to assist following the recent bushfires in February.