A COMMUNITY detention centre for asylum seekers and a major training centre for organic farming were among ideas put forward as possible uses for Glenormiston College at a public meeting yesterday.
The college will be vacated by South West Institute of TAFE in March after seven years of occupation because of diminishing demand for residential courses in agriculture.
Corangamite Shire and TAFE managers, MPs Simon Ramsey and David O’Brien heard numerous ideas from the gathering of about 80 people.
Meridith McKinnon, a refugee project worker with South West Healthcare, suggested that groups of about five refugee families could be housed at the college at any one time.
“Refugees in community detention are allowed to move freely in the community but not allowed to work and this leads to problems,” Ms McKinnon said.
“This place would be ideal because they could be involved in all sorts of projects on the property — it would provide a sense of purpose while they are in detention.”
She suggested the attendance of refugee children at local schools would give local children valuable exposure to other cultures, something that was lacking in most south-west schools.
Purnim organic farmer Allan “Swampy” Marsh suggested that the college could become both a high-earning organic farm and a centre of training for Australia and south-east Asia.
“Demand for organic food is increasing at 25 per cent per year worldwide and there’s massive growth in India and China,” Mr Marsh said.
He suggested the college become “a South-East Asian centre of excellence” for training organic farmers.
“This place could be converted to organic very easily and make a good profit.”
Other ideas put forward that could use all or part on the facilities were a retirement village, low-security prison, holiday respite for carers, equestrian facilities, training centre for racehorses and jockeys and centre for livestock genetics services.