EASTERN Victoria MLC Harriet Shing, the driving force behind the $32 million announcement for the Wonthaggi Secondary College last Friday, admits to shedding some ‘happy tears’ during today’s visit by the Premier.

And she wasn’t on her own.

“The way the community has come together in support of this is an absolute credit to everyone; the students, their families, Darren (Parker), the staff, the school council, the local business community, the Mayor, everyone. It’s been an absolute privilege for me to work alongside them,” Ms Shing said this week.

“And I’ve got to say I did have some happy tears when the announcement was being made. So did Darren. It’s just so great. I’m over the moon.

“And to be able to share that with everyone who’s worked so hard, including Katrina (Maxwell) and Kathy (Garnham) from the basketball association, it’s wonderful.

“It’s a real example of what can be achieved if you make a plan, involve other people in what you are trying to do and be persistent. I’d like to come back and talk to the kids about that. You really can achieve your goals.”

Ms Shing said that as disappointing as it was not to have the project funded in the May Budget, ultimately no time has been lost with the funding being announced last Friday.

“The planning and preparations have kept going and I just can’t wait now to see that first sod turned and for the projects completed.

“It’s also a great boost to the sporting facilities in the town.

“The next thing we want to do is get that centrally located site turned over to the community as the site for a community hub with youth services and other community services.

“I think we can get that done as well.

“But overall I think the way the community has come together to achieve this is just as big a boost for the school as the new facilities are themselves and that goes for the whole of Bass Coast.

“The support from right across the area has been fantastic.”

Unanimous response

According to WSC Principal Darren Parker, the school council and everyone at the school is both relieved and delighted that the announcement has been made.

“The community really got it. These were facilities that they expected to be provided not hoped would be provided and everyone has got behind us on that. It’s been a fantastic community response and generations of kids, coming to this school, can forever be grateful for that.”

Local MP Brian Paynter has warmly welcomed the news.

“As I’ve always said, it wasn’t about who delivered this. It’s always been about the students, their families and what was needed at the school. I’m just ecstatic that we’re finally going to get this. And after the dust settles, we’ll move on to the hospital, with the same sort of single-minded, community purpose.”