GLENORMISTON’S 42-year link with agricultural education is set to end next year after South West TAFE announced it would finish its association with the historic site.
Seven employees are set to lose their jobs. Staff were delivered the blow yesterday morning.
The decision points to an uncertain future for one of the region’s most historic sites, with Corangamite mayor Chris O’Connor raising concerns about the loss of employment in the shire and the impact on local families.
He said the council was very disappointed by the decision and would meet with Minister for Higher Education Peter Hall next week to advocate for immediate action on the future use of the site.
South West TAFE will end its association with Glenormiston in March and instead deliver its agricultural and horticulture courses through a blended model made up of on-the-job, off-campus and online delivery.
TAFE CEO Peter Heilbuth said the decision had been particularly hard for colleagues who had been loyal and faithful and worked there a number of years.
He said catering, administration and ground staff would lose their jobs. Four employees were offered redundancies, the remaining three being contract or casual staff.
“I’m very proud of my colleagues. It’s very difficult news to get, particularly for those who won’t have a job going forward,” Mr Heilbuth said.
“They have been very professional and very understanding. There are people that have worked there for a number of years and have a great deal of affection with the college.
“We certainly understand that the community and Corangamite council hold that campus very fondly.
“We’re required to provide training and education that meets industry demand and in the end that’s the reason for this decision. We certainly understand people are disappointed with the decision.”
Mr Heilbuth said Mr Hall had been notified and TAFE would work with the state government about what happens to the site.
“Our best hope would be a suitable tenant. Like the community, we would hate to see it just sit there.”
Mr Heilbuth said in the past few years the number of students participating in programs at Glenormiston had declined but TAFE was not withdrawing from offering training courses in and around the Corangamite region.
“Rather, we are withdrawing from our tenancy at Glenormiston. We will continue to offer a wide range of agriculture and horticulture-related training across the region.”
Cr O’Connor said the campus had a long and proud history of providing agricultural training in both Corangamite and the Great South Coast region.
“Agriculture plays an important role in the local economy and contributes approximately $460 million each year,” he said.
“Council will call on the state government and South West TAFE to begin developing a plan for the provision of agricultural education in both the shire and the region.”
Premier Denis Napthine said he was told of the decision on Thursday afternoon and felt for the people who had a great affinity with the college.
He said the decision represented a changing market in the demand for agriculture-related courses.