Constituency Question: Warrnambool Special Developmental School

My constituency question is for the Minister for Education. When will funding be provided to build a new special development school in Warrnambool? Money was provided in the last budget to buy the land on which the school will stand but no money was provided to build the school. The previous coalition government committed $10 million to the project, but those opposite only committed to buy some land. Now the school is left waiting with an empty block of land and no money to build while the current school building is cramped. There are now 131 students on a site originally designed for 30, and enrolments continue to grow, as they have every year since 1999. My understanding is that the plans have been drawn up, and work is ready to start. It is absolutely imperative that money be given in the next budget so the school can complete the project. It cannot be delayed further. It is making it hard for the brilliant staff to cater to the individual needs of these students, who have complex needs, and places extra pressure and stress on the teachers, students and parents.

ANSWER: 

The Andrews Labor Government is committed to investing in educational infrastructure, and this has been demonstrated through the allocation of $1.8 billion in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 State Budgets to build, upgrade and maintain school facilities, including the allocation of funding for Warrnambool Special Development School to do planning. However, fulfilling our ambitious agenda to make Victoria the ‘Education State’ will take some time, and our ongoing challenge is to responsibly balance and prioritise the needs of over 1,500 government schools.

The Andrews Government is also committed to ensuring that every Victorian has equal access to the knowledge and skills they need to shape their lives. We aim to provide all students, including those in specialist settings, with quality facilities, equipment and resources.

Planning is an important and exciting phase for schools, and I commend the Warrnambool Special Developmental School and its community on the work done to date. This will ensure that, should capital funding be provided in the upcoming or a future State Budget, work can commence within a short timeframe.

I am pleased that the purchase of a new site for the school has been finalised, and I can assure you that the Government will continue to use all available data, including the detailed planning undertaken by Warrnambool Special Developmental School, to inform the allocation of future funding.

The Hon James Merlino MP

Deputy Premier

Minister for Education

Minister for Emergency Services