Adjournment Speech: South Yarra Primary School

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, and I raise it on behalf of the South Yarra Primary School community. The action I seek from the minister is to address both the immediate and the long-term issues faced by overcrowding at South Yarra Primary School.

Enrolments at South Yarra primary are skyrocketing, and the school is bursting at the seams. Whilst there have been new multistorey portables installed, there still is a need for more classrooms. To find room for the extra students, I believe the multipurpose room and the library are having to be used for classrooms. There is a concern from the school community that after-school care services may no longer be available. Several parents have contacted me suggesting that Fawkner Park could be used for portables in the near term to relieve that immediate pressure on the school. Certainly I would urge the minister to get in touch with Melbourne City Council to see if that is feasible.

Whilst South Yarra primary sits on a very small footprint, it does have a capacity to expand vertically. Certainly what is needed is a plan to increase capacity on the existing site and to develop the existing grounds. The school zone also needs to be reduced. There are simply too many enrolments coming from the existing zone for the school to handle. With a new school being built in South Melbourne and existing capacity at Windsor, certainly there is scope to reduce the school boundary.

Finally, there does need to be a long-term approach for school capacity within the Prahran electorate. As more and more families move into the area or choose to raise their families in the area, as I have, we will need more capacity in our primary schools, particularly given that they will now have access to what I believe will be a high-quality public high school, I might add. I call on the minister to make public all the projected enrolments for schools within the Prahran area and work with the school community so we can have the confidence that local students will get the school facilities that we need.

Answer: 

I am informed as follows: 

The Andrews Labor Government is committed to making Victoria the Education State and that means ensuring all Victorian families have access to a great school no matter where they live. The last three State Budgets delivered the largest ever investment in Victorian school infrastructure, allocating more than $2.5 billion to build, upgrade and maintain schools across the state. This funding means that 56 new school projects are now in the pipeline, which come online in the next few years.

 The Government is conscious that enrolment growth pressures are being felt in a number of communities, including in the inner city. The Government's Inner City Schools Package will see significant investment in this area including:

  • $44 million to construct the new South Melbourne Primary School scheduled to open in Term 1, 2018
  • $31 million to construct the new South Melbourne Park Primary School scheduled to open in Term 1, 2019
  • $43 million to construct the new Richmond High School scheduled to open in Term 1, 2018
  • $42 million for the new Prahran High School scheduled to open in Term 1, 2019
  • $5 million to deliver additional classroom spaces at Albert Park College
  • $1 million to masterplan the future Docklands Primary School
  • Identification of sites for a primary school and secondary school at Fishermans Bend
  • Identification of a site for a new primary school at North Melbourne

 These investments will assist to accommodate the growing demand for education places in the inner city.

 I am advised in response to the enrolment growth at South Yarra Primary School in 2017 the Department provided a new, triple storey relocatable building to increase capacity at the school. The Department is working closely with South Yarra Primary School to confirm enrolments for 2018, which can be accommodated within the existing facilities at the school, while maintaining availability of the library, multi-purpose rooms (where the school currently offers music and after-school care) and art. 

In addition, the Victorian School Building Authority is continuing to engage with the City of Melbourne to ascertain whether it may be possible to consider an expanded use of Fawkner Park to accommodate additional space for South Yarra Primary School in the future. 

South Melbourne Primary School will open in 2018 and South Melbourne Park Primary School will open in 2019. These two new schools will accommodate local enrolments and local enrolment boundaries will be progressively updated as these new schools open. The enrolment boundary for South Melbourne Primary School in 2018 is available on the Victorian School Building Authority website: www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au (search: ‘South Melbourne'). 

The Department will continue to work directly with the South Yarra Primary School Principal to address accommodation needs in 2018 and beyond.

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The Hon James Merlino MP
Deputy Premier
Minister for Education
Minister for Emergency Services