Prisoners at Hopkins Correctional Centre near Ararat have built 12 fish habitats for the Victorian Fisheries Authority that are being used in a Victorian Government project to revive the Maribyrnong River’s native fish population.

The habitats are made of concrete, are shaped like a star and have branches attached, creating habitat zones for fish that in turn will help improve the environmental balance and health of Victorian waterways. 

The habitats have been installed over the past few weeks and will be home to more than 300,000 estuary perch by summer. 

The fish habitats were made by prisoners normally employed outside the prison in the Landmate environmental management program (External link). Landmate is run in partnership with the Department of Justice and Community Safety and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, where selected prisoners are able to go out into the local community to undertake environmental work.  

But with Landmate unable to operate in the community for much of the year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the program pivoted to on-site projects such as this one.  

“This work gave prisoners an opportunity to learn new skills, while contributing to environmental outcomes for the community,” Prison Industries Business Manager Mick Hurkens said. 

Mr Hurkens worked with Hopkins Correctional Centre and the Victorian Fisheries Authority to refine the design brief and set up a temporary production area for manufacturing concrete at the prison. 

“Both prisoners and staff from the Landmate program at Hopkins Correctional Centre appreciated the opportunity to diversify their skills,” Mr Hurkens said. 

“The need for the prisoners to read, interpret and follow specifications included in the plans enhances their post-release employment opportunities, especially when it comes to the lean manufacturing techniques this project was based on – maximising productivity while reducing waste.” 

Rehabilitation and reintegration programs play a vital role in helping to break the cycle of re-offending – and Corrections Victoria has continued to deliver various programs across the correctional system in partnership with community and external organisations throughout the pandemic.  

Landmate operates from five regional Victorian prisons including Hopkins Correctional Centre. 

The focus is always on providing opportunities to help offenders turn their lives around pre and post transition into the community and to give back to the community. 

Prisoner employment rates in Victoria are the highest in the nation at 93.1%. 

You can learn more about the role that work, training and education plays in the Correctional System.