Re: Wonthaggi Education Precinct Funding (an open letter which has also been sent to the Premier’s office).
Dear Premier Andrews;
On behalf of the council and the Bass Coast Shire community, I write to express our deepest disappointment that the new senior campus of Wonthaggi Secondary College (Stage 1 of the Wonthaggi Education Precinct) was not funded in the 2017/18 Victorian State Budget released yesterday.
To provide our context to you:
• In the 2016/17 State Budget, funding was allocated for the planning and design of the new campus. This is now complete.
• The Ministerial delegation that visited Bass Coast Shire on April 1, 2016, heard firsthand from our community leaders about our challenges in a range of areas, but most particularly education and health. The Ministers in attendance saw the substandard nature of the current senior campus of the secondary college. The Minister for Education assured our community that the Andrews Government was “absolutely listening” to Wonthaggi and acknowledged that the campus was constrained and had substandard facilities.
• Over recent months, council and community groups have worked extremely hard, with the encouragement of the Victorian Government, to prepare a funding submission for a Wonthaggi Regional Highball Stadium to be located at the new Wonthaggi Secondary College. Council had also allocated $1.5 million towards this $6 million game changing facility in its draft 2017/18 budget.
• Wonthaggi Secondary College, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Training and Bass Coast Shire Council has ensured that the $25 million project is shovel ready.
The provision of a quality education precinct in Wonthaggi remains a key priority of the council and our community.
The school, community and council have worked relentlessly over a decade to ensure that no stone remained unturned in order to achieve the vision.
Wonthaggi, as a designated regional centre identified in Plan Melbourne and the Gippsland Regional Growth Plan, needs quality education and health facilities in order to fulfil its true function.
Educational attainment in Bass Coast is well below the Victorian average.
Council is working tirelessly to ensure that our fast growing shire offers our community the benefits of a true regional centre.
We are currently planning, with support of the Victorian Planning Authority, to facilitate the doubling of our town.
Secondary education facilities today are woefully inadequate and substandard. The time is now to start to undo decades of under investment by government.
Education in Bass Coast has reached crisis status. Our students literally cannot fit into the current facilities and leisure facilities are woefully inadequate.
Council and the community demand a genuine response to our confusion and dismay, and a real and measurable commitment in relation to how and when the Victorian Government will deliver our school and associated shared facilities.
I would value the opportunity to meet with yourself and the Minster for Education in order to hear your response firsthand.
I can be contacted on (03) 5951 3393 or 0428 936 025, or via email on pamela.rothfield@basscoast.vic.gov.au
Yours sincerely, Cr Pamela Rothfield, Mayor, Bass Coast Shire Council.