House debates

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Pearce Electorate: Mount Helena Primary School

4:50 pm

Photo of Judi MoylanJudi Moylan (Pearce, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Before returning to this place for this sitting I had the great pleasure of visiting the Mount Helena Primary School in the electorate of Pearce to present them with their award as the Swan East region Super Site for the Active After-School Communities program.

The school won the award for the outstanding delivery of the program with strong community participation. Of the 109 students involved in the AASC program in semester 1 2010, 75 of the students joined in local club competitions. These included hockey, netball and tennis. Mark Sanders, Swan East Regional Coordinator for Active After-school Communities, has done a magnificent job coordinating the program throughout the electorate of Pearce, ensuring schools are well resourced. Mount Helena is fortunate to have an excellent staff involved in the program’s operation, and they have been extremely well supported by Mark Sanders.

School physical education teacher and AASC coordinator, Wally Groom, and fellow teacher Kerry Gow are responsible for the implementation of the program and its strong community links. In fact, Kerry Gow has been a recipient of the Pearce Australia Day awards for her community services. Mrs Gow has had similar involvement in these programs previously, at the Mundaring Primary School, and her efforts have been ground breaking with respect to facilitating children into local sporting clubs. The Principal of the Mount Helena Primary School, Leanne Alderman, also provides tremendous leadership in empowering her staff to be able to deliver positive health outcomes through this program.

In the meeting I had with the staff when I went to present the awards, I was struck by their enthusiasm. The staff shares great passion for trying to get students involved in physical activity and sport in the school. Their enthusiasm has clearly rubbed off on the students. Through the Active After-school Communities Program, the school continued its annual involvement in the City to Surf, with the school winning the ‘best spirit’ award, earning the school $10,000 worth of solar panels. That is a great achievement. Indeed, one of their teachers, Steve Matthews, completed the 12-kilometre journey of the City to Surf pushing one of the students in a wheelchair. That was an extraordinary feat.

Mount Helena Primary School is an outstanding example of the excellent social and health outcomes the Active After-school program is providing our schools and the community more broadly. For anyone not familiar with the program, the Active After-school Communities Program is a national initiative that provides primary school aged children with access to free sport and other structured physical activity programs in the after-school timeslot of 3.00 to 5.30 pm. The program aims to engage children, particularly encouraging less active students in sport and other structured physical activity through a positive and fun experience. They are encouraged to develop a love of sport that inspires them to join a local sporting club and hopefully makes physical activity and sport a lifetime activity.

It is unfortunate that a program such as the one at Mount Helena Primary School may be in jeopardy. Despite the success of the program, the government has, to date, not committed to long-term funding. I was, however, very pleased on Sunday to note that they have extended the funding for another 12 months. If we are to retain the talented people like Mark Sanders and expand the capital that has already been developed, we will need to provide greater certainty of a longer future for this excellent program.

I noted the Prime Minister—rightly—declaring war on obesity, and I support that aim. That is exactly what this program was set up to do, and it has been very successful in getting previously inactive children participating in sport. I hope we are able to encourage the government to provide longer term funding for this program so that we have greater certainty and so that we can continue to encourage all children to take up sport and include it as part of their routine for a lifetime and to beat this problem of obesity which is a growing concern within our communities.


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