Brimbank City Council will advocate strongly with the State Government and Federal government to raise its serious concerns over the proposed sale of school sites in Brimbank.
All Councillors voted unanimously to stop the sales after a passionate and evidence informed debate about the issue. Community First was the phrase most used.
A Notice of Motion in relation to the sale of five school sites was tabled at Tuesday night’s Ordinary Council Meeting. Deputy Mayor Cr Georgina Papafotiou in moving the motion highlighted the need for the Council to seek the retention of the sites.
In speaking to the motion that was supported unanimously by the Council, Mayor of Brimbank, Cr John Hedditch said: “Selling of these sites is a move that will damage the Brimbank community.
“These sites are not surplus – with a growing population and increasing gentrification, these sites are critical for the Brimbank community's welfare. We need this land for Brimbank’s future.
“We’ll be writing directly to the Prime Minister and Premier of Victoria, Minister for Education, Minister for Planning and corresponding opposition Members, along with all local State Members of Parliament, to inform them of Council’s serious concern over the proposal to sell school sites located within the City of Brimbank.
“We don’t believe there is sufficient justification for these sites to be sold off. We’re asking to see real proof that these sites will not be needed in the future for education purposes,” Cr Hedditch said.
The sites, which are owned by the Department of Education and Training include
“These schools were shut by the State Government many years ago. However times and needs have changed rapidly since then, and as our Brimbank community continues to grow and School places harder to find, we need to make sure that there are sufficient local schools for our children to attend.
“Right now, there is a clear lack of available space for schools around Brimbank, especially in the areas where these empty sites exist. Public schools are not evenly located around the municipality making it hard for families to find a school near them. In addition, as our population grows and more people move into Brimbank, we will need more schools.
“All this underlines the fact that these school sites need to be retained in Brimbank, so that they can be used for purposes that benefit our community.
“We’re calling on the State Government to stop the proposed sale of Brimbank school sites while discussions are held to look into the most effective use of these school sites.
“The sites could be used for education purposes – or they could be used for sport and active recreation, to get more people into sport and support our community to get healthier.
"It is important to remember that Brimbank needs a really strong boost to improve some areas of disadvantage, including lower levels of health, wellbeing and participation.
“The Brimbank community has many strengths but unfortunately it is the third most disadvantaged in Victoria. Our community also participates less in physical activity than the Melbourne average. We suffer from high levels of obesity, and have the second highest rate of diabetes in Melbourne – a whopping 63 per cent above the national rate. Type 2 Diabetes is twice as prevalent in Brimbank as in Melbourne and Australia. *
“These are heartbreaking figures and we want to turn this around. One of the ways we’re tackling the problem is by supporting and encouraging our community to be more active and get more into sport.
“For this to be successful, our community also needs greater access to sporting fields and precincts, and more opportunities to take part in sport.
“Unfortunately Brimbank has a lack of sports facilities compared with current demand, with a recent Australian Health Policy Collaboration report identifying that for the seven sports investigated that Brimbank only has 3.1 facilities per 10,000 persons compared to 5.7 per 10,000 persons for Melbourne.
“In this context of a big gap in facilities, Council is working hard to develop sports facilities for the community and improve community health. This is important for Brimbank, and we always appreciate support from other levels of government and the private and philanthropic sectors to turn around this disadvantage."
“If the State Government were to give this surplus school land to local government to develop sporting precincts, this would certainly help the effort to meet our community’s future sport and active recreation demands.
“We need smart Federal and State Government investments in community sport and recreation infrastructure, which is what vulnerable communities such as Brimbank need in order to make gains in participation, health and wellbeing and address disadvantage in the longer term.
“What we need now is smart community infrastructure investment partners so we can have a real crack at addressing disadvantage in the long term. Council does not have the capacity to do it on our own.
“We want to sit down and have a discussion with the State Government first about all this, and to investigate what the sites could be used for, as this is a critical matter for the wellbeing of our community,” Cr Hedditch said.
Source of statistics: “Growing Brimbank – A collaborative approach to lifting health and education outcomes report” Victoria University’s Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC), 2016.