House debates

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Constituency Statements

Wills Electorate: Schools

10:04 am

Photo of Kelvin ThomsonKelvin Thomson (Wills, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Coburg, which is situated in the heart of the Wills electorate, needs a year 7 to year 12 open entry government high school. During the 1990s, the City of Moreland had a large number of schools shut by the Kennett Liberal government. Following the announcement by the Edmund Rice Educational Foundation that it would close the St Joseph Secondary School campus in Pascoe Vale by 2010, I arranged a Wills education forum. Since the forum, I have announced the allocation of more than $100 million for local primary and secondary schools to undertake both minor and major infrastructure and refurbishment works. But I acknowledge that improving local education access must also include constructing new facilities in new locations where there is demand. There is demand in Coburg for a new high school and that demand should be met.

Earlier this year, to its credit, the Victorian government established a task force to investigate local demographics in Coburg and surrounding suburbs and the demand for the establishment of a new secondary school. The task force’s report, handed down last week, clearly shows that demand generated from record local population growth will exceed the supply of places at local secondary schools by 2021. The report shows indeed that by 2016 more than 200 students will miss out on a place in years 7 to 9, with the predicted shortfall in places in 2021 forecast to increase to 146 at Brunswick Secondary School, 125 at Coburg Senior High School, 51 at Glenroy Secondary School, 354 at Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary School and 53 at Strathmore Secondary School.

Local families want a local high school in Coburg. The forecast 13½ per cent increase in the local population by 2031, the forecast increase in the number of young people, the numerous short-sighted school closures in Moreland over the years and the incredible persistence of the ‘High School for Coburg’ parents underscores the legitimacy of their claim. The ‘High School for Coburg’ parents have recommended, first, that an implementation task force be set up in February next year to plan for the establishment of at minimum a year 7 intake at Coburg Senior High School in 2012 and that the minister for education commences initial discussions on the task force makeup immediately after being sworn in; and, second, that the Victorian government and the department build on the really good work being done at the Coburg Senior High School by making financial provision for the establishment of, at minimum, a year 7 intake in 2012 at the Coburg Senior High School with the aim of having full open access secondary provision in 2014, thereby creating more education opportunity for the greater Coburg community.

I support those recommendations. Students going to the Coburg West Primary School, Coburg Primary School, Coburg North Primary School, Pascoe Vale Primary School, Pascoe Vale North Primary School and other local schools need to have a clear secondary school to go to. (Time expired)