REGION - Victoria's growing prison system, which includes facilities at Ararat and Trawalla, has seen people moving to the Grampians region from across Australia as more and more people discover the job opportunities and benefits of working in the area.
Announcing the latest recruitment drive for prison officers, Department of Justice Grampians regional director Catherine Darbyshire said people have moved from Echuca, Frankston, Geelong, the Gold Coast and Mackay in Queensland to take up the roles in the last eight months.
"These are great roles with good working conditions, a positive culture and a supportive environment so it's not surprising that people from across the state and interstate are taking up this job opportunity," Ms Darbyshire 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 staff," Ms Darbyshire said.
"Prison jobs are a great opportunity for a rewarding and stimulating career. 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.
"Our staff enjoy 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."
For two locals who recently graduated, making the move to a career as a prison officer has been the 'best decision'.
Finding job security and the variety of opportunities for professional growth attracted Emma Hitchcock and Rhett Mellor to apply for the prison officer role at Hopkins Correctional Centre.
As a business owner, Ms Hitchcock said she wasn't always guaranteed a regular wage and she had always been interested in working in the justice system
"As a business owner I was very customer focussed but I needed more security for my family and I've always wanted a job where I could make a real difference to the community and help people," she said.
"I didn't realise the variety of roles there are in the prison and I'm looking forward to working my way up and building my career here."
A former goldminer, Mr Mellor said job security and lifestyle were the two big reasons he made the move.
"I really enjoy working shiftwork as it means I can spend quality time with my family and I get to go to my kids' school events and sporting games," Mr Mellor said.
"It is also a great career that I see myself doing for a long time. There are so many opportunities for promotion, training and you are encouraged to try different roles."
Mr Mellor said before he applied that safety was a concern for him but that was quickly put to rest once he started at the prison.
"It was just fear of the unknown and 10 minutes into being here, I knew safety was not an issue and it is just another community," he said.
Ms Hitchcock said anyone thinking for applying for a job at the prison should go for it.
"It has been the best decision for me and anyone thinking of applying should go for it as there's lots of opportunity with the growth at the prison and it's a very rewarding job," she said.
The Hopkins expansion reached a major milestone in January with the first new prisoner accommodation units completed. New beds open at Langi Kal Kal in early April, with more to come in the middle of the year.
The Department of Justice is currently recruiting and will hold an information session next week, on Wednesday May 7 at 6pm. To register your attendance go www.cvcareers.com.au or call 1300 304 128.
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.
Visit www.cvcareers.com.au for more information about jobs with Corrections Victoria