Anger over new sex-of­fender cen­tre

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

Jobs

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.”

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