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Parents’ call to action

12 Jun 2012

A parents’ forum had its first call to arms last month in South Melbourne, continuing the push for more public primary schools in the inner-south of Melbourne.

The meeting attracted a huge turn-out, with the crowd swelling out the door at the South Melbourne Commons.

The State Opposition has cottoned onto the angst and is using it to push Labor’s public education credentials. Local MP Martin Foley organised the “Two Schools Now” meeting and he joined Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews in addressing the crowd.

Mr Andrews said it didn’t matter which side of politics you were on, this was an important issue.

“These aren’t just challenges relevant to now. These are challenges that are going to get more significant into the future,” Mr Andrews said.

“When we talk about community infrastructure, nothing is more fundamental. Nothing is more important to families, to my family and to your family than high quality educational services.”

A spokesperson said Education Minister Martin Dixon had requested feasibility studies be undertaken on school provisions in the inner city.

“Minister Dixon has not received the studies yet. Once he has had a chance to examine the studies it is his intention to make them publicly available,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also questioned Mr Foley’s involvement in Two Schools Now, saying: “Mr Foley’s involvement in the upcoming community meeting is somewhat hypocritical given he was silent on the matter when his party was in office.”

The City of Port Phillip has been proactive in the cause also. Mayor Rachel Powning said the council had commissioned an independent study of the need for additional primary schools in the area. Escalier Consulting completed the study and representative Adrian Stephens said the findings were contrary to many of those from the State Government’s studies.

“The Government has outlined a plan to create a school in the area in five to 10 years. We found that five to 10 years for a new primary school in this area was just too far away,” Mr Stephens said.

“There seems to be strong anecdotal evidence of the trend of families to stay rather than moving when their first child is born.”

Mr Andrews urged the group to maintain pressure on the Government. “This will need to be a long and determined fight. You will need to be loud,” Mr Andrews said.

The group is based in the City of Port Phillip and it encouraged Southbank residents, who face similar schooling issues, to get behind the Two Schools Now plan.

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