The upgrade of the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC) will be beneficial for the local community, with the BESIX Watpac-developed project to support disadvantaged Victorians throughout the build.

The maximum security women’s prison – originally constructed in 1996 – will feature new accommodation, program and educational buildings, a new tele-court, and legal resource facility, an extension of the perimeter fence and upgrades to electronic security systems.

BESIX Watpac’s Begin Program will heavily feature throughout the construction process. The program will provide direct employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged Victorians, as well as engaging agencies that employ disadvantaged people.

The agencies involved include the Jesuit Social Services Out For Good Program, the YMCA Rebuild Program and Wamarra, a civil contractor that provides opportunities for Aboriginal workers. This will be complemented by BESIX Watpac’s National Indigenous Engagement Policy which mandates targets for Indigenous employment on projects. The Begin Program aims to support individuals identified by the Out For Good Program and will embrace the catchcry, “Find your passion, start your career.” Participants will undertake an 18-month technical rotation on the project.

BESIX Watpac CEO Jean-Pol Bouharmont says the company continually looks beyond developments, and making a difference to various community members.

“As a major national, multi-disciplinary construction contractor, BESIX Watpac recognises our responsibility to use our buying power to generate social value above and beyond the dollar value of the project,” he says.

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

BESIX Watpac General Manager for Victoria and South Australia, Simon Ballard says the project team is proud of the social procurement model.

“This is the future of social procurement and we’re excited about its potential. This project is just the beginning for the BESIX Watpac Begin Program and I am confident it will set a benchmark in the construction industry,” he says.

Civil subcontracting opportunities will be offered to Indigenous participants through the civil contractor, Wamarra, which is focused on Aboriginal employment.

To find out more about the DPFC upgrades or BESIX Watpac’s Begin Program, head to