The open-and-shut case against prison expansion

On 19 March 2021, the Victorian Government announced construction of 106 new cells at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, a maximum-security prison for women in Ravenhall, in Melbourne’s west, at a cost of $188.9 million. The expansion will increase the prison’s capacity from 604 cells to 710 and includes two new 20-bed ‘Management Units’ for solitary confinement.

There are currently under 400 women imprisoned in Dame Phyllis Frost.

Expansion of Victoria’s women prison is part of a $1.8 billion expansion of prisons for women, men, young people and children across Victoria announced in the 2019/20 Victorian Budget. Despite reductions in prisoner numbers in Victoria during the COVID pandemic the Andrews Government remains committed to building thousands of new prison cells.

Homes not Prisons is a campaign calling on the Victorian Government to stop the expansion of Dame Phyllis Frost and re-allocate the budget for prison building to public housing and support for criminalised women and their children.

Victoria spends the least on public housing per capita of any Australian state or Territory. The Big Housing Build announced in the 2020/21 budget is focussed on privately operated ‘community’ and ‘affordable’ housing and will not increase public housing accessible to criminalised and highly disadvantaged women and families.

You can support the Homes not Prisons campaign by signing on to the open letter and joining the Homes not Prisons coalition.



Sam Wallman

Sam Wallman is a unionist and cartoonist based on unceded Wurundjeri country. He is a member of the Workers Art Collective. His new longform book,  Our Members Be Unlimited: a Comic About Unions is out now through Scribe Publications. You can follow his work here.

More by Sam Wallman ›

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays