Port Phillip Prison: Victoria's Port Phillip Prison and Dhurringile Pri...

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Published Time: 26.06.2024 - 04:02:53 Modified Time: 26.06.2024 - 04:02:53

160 are employed at Dhurringile Prison. Staff were being told of the job losses this morning. Port Phillip Prison

160 are employed at Dhurringile Prison. Staff were being told of the job losses this morning.

Corrections Minister Enver Erdogan said some staff at both facilities would be able to transfer to other facilities.

"I know this news will be difficult for some, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank all the staff that have worked at Dhurringile Prison," he said.

"They will be supported, I want them to keep working in our corrections system."

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is negotiating with the state government how best to redeploy the staff.

CPSU industrial organiser Donna Shell said the closure was being brought far too quickly, and had not allowed staff adequate time to prepare.

"It's heartbreaking really, for staff that turn up to work today to be told that within two months, they're not gonna have a job," Ms Shell said. 

"What we want from the state government is for the [Dhurringile Prison] staff to be given priority, and for the renumeration packages to be sufficient."

Port Phillip, in Melbourne's west, is privately run by G4S but it will be closed by the end of 2025.

Mr Erdogan said the government had exercised its right to end the contract with G4S, but would not comment on the cost to taxpayers.

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service welcomed the announcement. 

"Prisons represent sites of significant harm and suffering for our ," a spokesperson said. 

"They do not rehabilitate and they do not make communities safer."

It said the government should look at how the two sites could be transformed into places that support community members involved in the criminal legal system. 

The Western Plains Prison is due to open soon and will house prisoners from the privately-run Port Phillip facility.

The government has spruiked Western Plains, near Lara, as a state-of-the-art facility with 1,248 beds with "a number of administration, accommodation, health and prison industry buildings and will offer programs designed to reduce the risk of prisoners reoffending, maximise their chances of successful reintegration back into the community and keep staff safe".

Despite being finished in 2022, the $1.19 billion prison has sat empty.

Mr Erdogan said the move would provide an opportunity to "modernise" the prison system.

"Safer for the staff, safer for those in custody, which should mean safer for all Victorians," he said.

He said prisoners would be housed in the new prison from the middle of 2025, with 600 beds expected to be ready.

Victoria's prison population — including inmates on remand — peaked in 2019 with 8,101 behind bars.

Since then it has dropped, with data from the Sentencing Advisory Council showing the prison population was 6,440 last year.

During the pandemic, Victoria's prisoner population dropped and the number of inmates has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Shadow Minister for Corrections Brad Battin said the government could be leaving the system vulnerable should crime levels return to previous highs.

We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander s as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.

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