While the Wimmera Machinery Field Days is dedicated to connecting farmers and suppliers, over time the event has come catered to the needs of parents concerned about their child’s future.
As families wandered through the Moore Exhibition Centre, colleges such as St Patrick’s offered families a glimpse at the opportunities available, particularly as the first term winds down.
While often not signing up students during the three days, St Patrick’s Director of Community Development Paul Nolan said that event helped to give parents a starting point.
“Most parents don’t sign up their kids on the day but it gives them a chance to come out and get an idea and think about it,” Mr Nolan said.
Being the only Catholic boys’ boarding school in regional Victoria, also with a 125 year history, Mr Nolan said that the schools new $7 million “hotel-style” boarding facilities are helping to bring more students in from across the Wimmera Mallee.
“Traditionally, the school has brought in boys from the western districts,” he said.
However, with the construction of its new three-storey 80 person boarding facilities in late-2018, it has also been able to draw in more students from remote areas as well as from abroad.
“The new boarding facilities are not like older boarding schools.
“Currently the new boarding facilities houses 70 students and we have lots of boys from Aboriginal communities and rural towns.
“But we are starting to draw in students internationally too. At the moment we have one student from Hong Kong and one student from China,” Mr Nolan said.
When asked if the college was worried about travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Nolan said it would not affect the school’s intake.
“No, at the moment we only have the two international students. We are looking at drawing in students from other markets but we mostly look after students from the region,” he said.
The school, however, does take these concerns seriously Mr Nolan said.
“We have the high child safety standards, above that set by the government’s recommendations.”