Residents upset over maximum security detention centre at Werribee South

Kelly Grigsby

Wyndham City CEO meets with Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice; Former city councillor Gautam Gupta against the location of proposed centre

On 14 February, Wyndham City CEO, Kelly Grigsby and her council staff met with senior representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice to better understand the rationale behind Werribee South being selected as the preferred site for a maximum security detention centre.

“We believe the Department should engage further with the Victorian Planning Authority (which is responsible for regulating the land use of the site), and seek an urgent review of any advice previously provided as it is difficult to see how the VPA could have approved the location given the lack of appropriate buffers and the impact on the East Werribee National Employment and Innovation Precinct,” said Ms Grigsby, adding that the site selection flies in the face of the VPA’s own plans for the area which is both contradictory and concerning.

The proposed $288 million facility will have six-metre-high concrete walls which will be visible from the Princes Freeway. According to Ms Grigsby residents are fuming over the plans and the lack of consultation with them on the matter especially since the proposed site is close to the Werribee Mercy Hospital and Susan Cory School.

Former city councillor Gautam Gupta is keen on seeing the facility in Wyndham but is against the site that has been proposed by the state government. “There has been no consultation on this matter whatsoever and that’s the reason residents are angry. The facility can find a better spot in the city and it will create some jobs in the area. But the proposed site is definitely a big issue for us,” said Mr Gupta.

He was also disappointed by a thin presence of residents of Indian background among the protesters. “This is an issue that affects us all. It threatens to undervalue our life savings and investments. And we don’t see many Indian residents coming out to raise their concerns,” he said.

Lisa Heinrichs, a local resident, who was one of the main organisers of the protest thanked “members of Speak Out, Chinese community groups, Werribee South farmers and the Wyndham city council” for the “team effort”.