Initially known as HM Ararat Prison, the prison was opened in 1967, replacing the century-old Ballarat Gaol. Built at an initial cost of A$1.25 million, an ongoing redevelopment program has included a new external security fence, new kitchen and mess room, major industries complex, new accommodation and program areas, and a new visit centre.
In November 2011, the Minister for Corrections and for Crime Prevention, the Hon. Andrew McIntosh MP announced that the name of the centre will change to the Hopkins Correctional Centre in recognition of the major contribution made to its operation by the local community. The opportunity had been taken to rename the prison as part of the project to add 350 beds to the complex, that is due to be completed in December 2012. A new transition centre has opened, accommodating 40 beds. The facility, once complete, is expected to add an additional 150 jobs to the region, adding to the existing 160 full-time staff at the centre. The Hopkins River is located in the area surrounding Ararat.