House debates

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Constituency Statements

National Ride2School Day

10:06 am

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

A generation ago, 80 per cent of Australian kids used active transport to get to school every day—walking, cycling, scooting. Today, that figure is just 20 per cent. We really need to turn this around. 22 March was National Ride2School Day, a Bicycle Network initiative where schools around the country hold special events to encourage their students to use active transport to get to school. Making Ride2School Day a carnival event opens an opportunity for schools, parents and students to talk about what our community can do to get more children to use active transport. Indeed, on Ride2School Day the national active transport participation rate amongst kids increases to 60 per cent, a threefold increase.

Across Australia, our kids need to be more active. Over 90 per cent of young Australians don't get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Health experts tell me that using active transport to get to school is best way for our kids to get that activity and the No. 1 way we can reduce Australia's chronic disease burden.

Nearly 1,000 school communities across Australia participated in Ride2School Day this year, and 10 of those schools were in my electorate in Melbourne's west. I personally sponsored five local schools to have Ride2School Day events at their schools. Point Cook P-9 College, Footscray City Primary School, Footscray Primary School, Footscray North Primary School and Altona Primary School each received a healthy breakfast of fresh fruit and baked goods and prizes for kids who rode, walked, scooted or skated to school. On the day, I went to Point Cook P-9 College and I was blown away how active their students were. Kids at Point Cook P-9 College use active transport at double the national average, and not just on ride to school day but all year round.

Point Cook P-9 College shows what possible if our schools, families and government work together. After receiving a local council grant to install active travel paths, the school has been promoting active transport for years. They hold Point Cook P-9 College events each year and monitor their progress by doing a hands up count every Wednesday. Point Cook P-9 College aren't content with 50 per cent of their students using active transport, though; they're about to relaunch their active travel paths program because they know more kids can be walking, cycling, skating or scooting to school.

Ride2School Day had a great turnout from our community in Melbourne's west, and it was great to see so many young people embracing the opportunity to be physically active and connect with one another. I want to thank Masters Fresh Fruit in Footscray Market, Bakers Delight, Ted's Cycles, the Transport Accident Commission, the City of Maribyrnong, Footscray police, Franjos Kitchen and Gerry's Bicycle Service & Repair for their generous donations to our local schools for this day. Thank you to school communities for getting behind the day, to all the teachers and parents who volunteered to help serve up breakfast and marshal participants and, most of all, to all of the kids who got active on the day. I want to thank Bicycle Network for their important advocacy on this issue for many days. As I said at the beginning, 80 per cent of kids used to ride a bike at school or use active transport. Point Cook P-9 College and Ride2School Day show that doesn't have to be our past; it can also be Australia's future.