Anger over new sex-offender centre
Member for Ripon Louise Staley has called on the State Government to abandon plans to build a new secure sex-offenders centre in Ararat.
Ms Staley said Ripon already housed all of Victoria’s serious sex offenders in residential facilities and did not need to be a dumping ground for more.
“The government must listen to the community and abandon plans to build a new facility here,” she said.
“As Member for Ripon, and a resident of Ararat, I know we are doing more than our fair share to keep these offenders away from other communities. We must not have more of these sex and violent offenders here.”
Ms Staley was responding to a State Government announcement that it would build a 20-bed centre to house Victoria’s most serious offenders – with Ararat the preferred location.
The new facility, to be next to Hopkins Correctional Centre, would accommodate sex and violent offenders unsuitable for release into the community after completing their sentence.
The new centre is part of the government’s response to last year’s Harper Report into the post-sentence management of serious offenders.
Corrections Minister Gayle Tierney visited Ararat on Monday, meeting representatives of Ararat Rural City Council, Victoria Police and community members who had been consulted on the decision.
The government will establish a new community advisory group, including council, community, Corrections Victoria and Victoria Police representatives to spearhead community consultation.
The new purpose-built site will be designed to be a step-up from Corella Place, also at the Hopkins centre, feature a secure perimeter and a multi-disciplinary team to maintain a safe environment.
The government expects the project to create 100 jobs during construction, scheduled to start in the second half of this year, and a further 50 jobs when the centre opens by the end of 2018.
Ms Tierney said the government had promised to ‘fix the system’ and that was what it was doing.
“This new purpose-built, secure facility will house 20 of the state’s most serious offenders, keeping the community safe, monitoring serious offenders and breaking the cycle of reoffending,” she said.
“This is an important part of our response to the Harper Review, and we’re working day after day to implement the recommendations.”
But Ms Staley said there needed to be greater community consultation.
“Imposing a facility for people convicted of the worst, most heinous sex crimes without consulting the community of Ararat or their elected parliamentary representative is a complete betrayal and demonstrates the utter contempt the government has for my community,” she said. “It is entirely insufficient to hold secret meetings behind closed doors yet refuse to engage openly with the wider community and ask them if they want more sex and violent offenders housed here.”