The Victorian Government will build a new high security prison in Melbourne’s outer south-west, and will eventually close down the troubled Parkville youth justice centre, the Premier has announced.
The Government hopes to have the $228-million youth justice centre built at Werribee South by the end of 2020, after repeated riots at Malmsbury and Parkville, and a mass break-out.
Premier Daniel Andrews said a “damning” independent report into the existing youth justice centre at Parkville confirmed the need for facility.
The review found the Parkville centre was not suitable for its intended purpose and posed an unacceptable risk to staff and young inmates.
“The Comrie report, which provides a very damning commentary on the state of Parkville, talks about the fact that if a facility is not secure, then no rehabilitation, no effective programs can be run in that facility,” Mr Andrews said.
“So it is critically important that we build a new youth justice facility.”
Built to house 224 offenders, the facility will cost more than $1 million per bed.
“This is a high security facility, its footprint will be significant, and it needs to be built to the standards that are internationally accepted as being a safe and secure place for the community as well as those who are in custody, and of course staff,” Mr Andrews said.
“So yes, these are not cheap, and in many respects this would have been cheaper if we hadn’t ignored the state of affairs at Parkville for so long.”
The Government also announced that it is moving responsibility for the youth justice system from the Department of Health and Human Services to Corrections Victoria, part of the Department of Justice.
Future of Parkville site undecided
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said once the new facility was built, the youth justice centre in Parkville would be closed.
“When the new facility is completed at Werribee South, the Parkville facility will cease to operate as a youth justice facility,” she said.
The Government has yet to decide what to with the Parkville land once the youth prison is closed down.
Ms Mikakos said the new centre would have “security as the foremost consideration”.
“It’ll be a high security facility with six-metre perimeter fencing, ram-proof gates, it’ll have internal perimeter fencing around each unit and there will be other measures introduced in accordance with the recommendations from [review author] Neil Comrie,” she said.