Brunswick Electorate – Schools

Ms GARRETT (Brunswick) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is that he receive a delegation of school principals from my electorate regarding traffic and associated safety issues for students and families around local schools in my inner city electorate. Last month I wrote to both the Minister for Education and the Minister for Public Transport, who is also the Minister for Roads, and while I have received an acknowledgement from the Minister for Public Transport, I am yet to receive a substantive response from either minister.

School communities in my electorate have been raising significant concerns with state and local government representatives and authorities for a considerable time about the safety of students around our schools.

This common concern of families, principals and teaching staff has brought people together to seek proactive solutions and action. I have facilitated a number of meetings with principals across the electorate to discuss these common issues, which have been echoed in correspondence from school councils and parents.

While each school’s issues may vary, a number of common themes have been identified that stem from the inner city location of the schools. They include the location of traffic lights and public transport stops; interaction between public transport, cars, bikes and pedestrians in and around the schoolgrounds; speed zones on major roads adjacent to schoolgrounds; the presence, or lack, of school crossings and/or school crossing supervisors; and parking and parental behaviour around schools.

Principals and parents have attested to accidents and near misses occurring on a regular basis around their schools and it being ‘only a matter of time’ before a horrific incident takes place. As the house would be aware, traffic environments in the inner city are often complicated and chaotic due to the volume and type of vehicle, bike and pedestrian transport at pick-up and drop-off times. Some of these schools are on arterial roads which also carry public transport traffic, and most have very limited parking options.

All the schools have expressed concerns about the manner in which their issues are being addressed by local and state governments given the involvement of different authorities including VicRoads, local councils, the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure and the operators of public transport. Principals cite significant delays in matters being dealt with, buck-passing between the different authorities, and mixed messages and a lack of clarity around decision making in seeking resolution of their safety concerns.

Of concern is the regular response from the various authorities that action is not warranted on the basis that no fatalities have yet occurred.

A delegation of principals in my electorate is very keen to meet with the minister and expand on their experiences and what they see as serious deficiencies in current processes to resolve issues. This delegation represents a much broader group of school leaders in my electorate who are united in their purpose on this issue. On behalf of the many school communities — the parents, the principals and the teachers — I request that the minister receive this delegation as a matter of priority, hear the delegates’ stories and respond to their concerns.

(Hansard, 2013)