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School land to be purchased

14 May 2013

School land to be purchased Image

By Sean Rogasch

A Southbank state school is getting closer than ever, after the State Government announced funding for the purchase of its preferred site on the border of Southbank and South Melbourne.

With money allocated in the 2013-14 budget to buy the Melbourne University land at 129-161 Ferrars St, the Minister for Education, Martin Dixon, announced that site preparation and master planning for the new school would now begin.

“It’s well-positioned to cater to the growing populations of Southbank, South Melbourne and Fishermans Bend,” Mr Dixon said.

He also left the door open for further inner-south schooling options, saying: “The Government is also investigating future education provisions resulting from the Government’s vision for the Fishermans Bend urban renewal project.”

In a probable reference to lobby group Two Schools Now, Mr Dixon said there had been growing pressure from the inner south community for a school in the area.

Two Schools Now president, Alanna Vaz, said the group was grateful for the funding announcement, but was also aware that it needed to maintain pressure on the Government to keep the project ticking along.

“We welcome the news that the State Government has confirmed there is money in this year’s State budget for the purchase of the Ferrars St site,” Ms Vaz said.

“While this is an important first step towards a school, it does not cover the planning and construction costs and, even when completed, it will not be sufficient to cater for the children already living in our area,” she added.

Ms Vaz thanked the wider community for its support of the Two Schools Now campaign, pointing out that it was far from finished in its lobbying for action on schools.

“Two Schools Now calls for an immediate community/government consultative and planning group to deliver this promised school in South Melbourne and a further school or campus for secondary students,” Ms Vaz explained.

“Two Schools Now will continue to have a focus on funding for a primary and secondary school for the children living in our area, but it will increase its role in holding the government accountable for providing essential access to education in the new development areas.”

Local State Labor member, Martin Foley, who has been heavily involved in the Two Schools Now campaign, said the announcement did nothing to relieve the immediate pressure being felt by families in the inner south.

“The announcement by the State Government on their promised ‘new school’ in South Melbourne to serve the growing needs in Southbank is a cruel joke,” Mr Foley said.

“We welcome any investment in education – but this government is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of this community. There has yet to be a single dollar invested in new school infrastructure by this government in local education after three budgets,” he added.

“The promised school in South Melbourne is now being pushed out to 2017 – at the earliest, if everything goes well.”

The Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Services, Andrea Coote, said the announcement was an important one.

“The local community has been very enthusiastic about the need for a new primary school. Premier Napthine and Minister Dixon have listened and it’s fantastic that we’re able to deliver a brand new school,” Ms Coote said.

How important is a new primary school in Southbank and the surrounding areas? Let us know on Facebook (www.facebook.com.au/southbanklocalnews) or via Twitter (@SOUTHBANK_News)

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