I rise to share the disgust that members of my community are feeling towards the Andrews Labor government and the handling of the Warrnambool Special Developmental School rebuild. During a visit to Portland recently the Premier said work was being done so funding for the school’s new build could be properly considered as part of the next state budget. But since then around $40 million worth of funding for schools has been delivered outside the budget process. But still, disabled children in Warrnambool wait for news about when their long-awaited new school that they were promised three years ago will be funded so building work can start.
At this rate the children there for the minister’s photo opportunity in 2014 will be finished their schooling and never get to enjoy a new school.
I cannot understand why this government is dragging its feet on this project. There are 130 students in a school that was originally built for 30. Because there is not enough room there are three separate lunch periods, no room to kick a football or play cricket, and the renowned children’s author Jackie French recently commented on a picture of the school’s library, saying:
This is not a library, it is a cupboard. Every child deserves better than this.
Every teacher deserves better than this. Every child has the right to learn to read, to access books, and to have help to find the books they love.
The community is upset, and rightly so. Why is funding being delivered to other schools when Warrnambool was told they had to wait until the state budget? This should be above politics; this is about making sure every child is equal and has the best facilities to get the best education. Unfortunately that is not happening for the children at the Warrnambool SDS, and I would urge the Premier and minister to stop moving at a snail’s pace and get this project started.