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Contract signed for $188.9M female prison upgrade

A Queensland company has been selected to redevelop a former heritage rail station into a mixed-use urban precinct.

The Victorian Government has signed a construction contract to increase capacity and support the rehabilitation of female prisoners at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

The $188.9 million expansion includes 106 new beds, a new reception, and multi-purpose buildings for education, programs and services – as well as expanded legal and telecourt facilities.

The new infrastructure is designed to increase access and engagement with rehabilitation programs and support reforms to help prisons avoid or minimise harm to female prisoners.

The Dame Phyllis Frost Centre is one of two women’s prisons in Victoria and is located at Ravenhall, in Melbourne’s north-west.

The facility accommodates a range of prisoners, including women with mental health conditions and cognitive impairment disabilities, as well young children who have been approved to live with their mothers.

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Construction works are expected to create more than 130 jobs during construction, with 10 per cent of construction hours earmarked for apprentices, trainees and cadets. The head contractor for the project is Watpac Construction Pty Ltd.

The expansion project is being overseen by the Community Safety Building Authority, which delivers infrastructure on behalf of the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

It is part of the Victorian Government’s $1.8 billion investment to provide flexible prison capacity, deliver programs to break the cycle of reoffending and keep people out of prison.

Corrections Minister Natalie Hutchins said the expanded facility includes new prison services, and legal and telecourt facilities to improve the delivery of justice services and help rehabilitate female prisoners.

“We’re continuing to make significant investments in the women’s correctional system to improve the rehabilitation of offenders, and help break the cycle of re-offending,” Hutchins said.

Construction is expected to be completed in late 2022.

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