WA College of Agriculture – Harvey

The WA College of Agriculture at Harvey is one of the most impressive educational institutions in the south-west. The original campus was actually the site of a Second World War internment camp for Italian people who were in the Harvey community. The ag school has been administered for 45 years by the Harvey Agricultural Senior High School. Students were ferried out to local farms for hands-on learnings of their courses in the early days as the school had no land of its own. Over time, small parcels of land surrounding the boarding facilities were acquired and developed. Originally, solely male students were boarding. However, in 1988, two female students attended for the first time, boarding in town. Four years later, a transportable dormitory for girls was opened and the girls attended.

In 1998, the Harvey Agricultural College was formed, splitting from the Harvey Senior High School, and 62 students enrolled in the fully independent school. In 2000, four other colleges from around the state joined together, becoming an RTO and giving the school a new name: the Western Australian College of Agricultural, Harvey.

In April 2001, a state-of-the-art dairy site was commissioned in Wokalup, providing milk to the WA market. Then, in 2011, with great work by Murray Cowper and the local Liberal government, $26.4 million was spent on relocating the college to a 905 hectare site at Wokalup. In October 2012, new facilities were built and opened on the farm to accommodate 128 boarding students and day students. It was the first time ever the entire college, staff and students were able to operate on one site—an incredibly memorable day in the school’s history. Of course, they had teaching blocks, student accommodation units and staff accommodation—a rural village atmosphere. There was a new admin block, a library, a gym, a dining hall and a multipurpose trades training centre for metalwork, automotive, building and construction, and furniture, and, on the ag side: dairy, equine, beef, sheep, wool and horticulture.

Over 60 years since the ag school first started, enrolments have skyrocketed and the school has more applications and expressions of interest than they can accept. It is a great school and staff, led by Principal Neale Armstrong, who is in his 19th year at the school. It has an ag advisory council, with Ian Eckersley there for decades, and ATAR and VET pathways provided for their students. Megan McSeveney won the WACE Beazley Medal in 2017. It is a very important asset and opportunity for young people. Before I finish, I acknowledge the members of the Defence Force, who are here today as part of the Defence Force Parliamentary Program. You are indeed welcome in this place.