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- The Education Department's Consultation Report - 28 May
- My letter to Grace Grace seeking an update and meeting 7 May
- Information about site selection released under RTI
- Minister Grace's response to community petition opposing new school at ISHS - 7 April 2021
- My letter to Minister Grace Grace raising concerns about the possibility of moving QASMT for the new school - 18 March 2021
- My initial submission to the Building Future Schools team - 26 Feb 2021
- My Letter to Minister Grace Grace regarding the need for better consultation - 24 Feb 2021
- Some background information about other sites proposed by local residents
- More information about traffic issues around the Lambert Rd precinct
- My submission to the Building Future Schools team on the two proposed sites
Two possible locations being considered
In its initial survey, the Department has proposed building a new primary school on the site of Indooroopilly State High School, likely on the western side at Ward St and Canarvon St. Information released via RTI has shown that the Department has been planning on this location since at least 2018- which means locals were right to feel the first round of consultation about this location was a bit cynical.
Many residents felt the initial consultation was very limited and not sufficient, so I took this to the Department and Minister and asked them to do more to find the best possible site. I was really pleased that in late-May the Minister got in touch with me to let me know that consultation would be re-opening. They also confirmed they’ve considered more than 60 suggestions for sites including at or around UQ, QASMT, the Tricare site and the disused Toowong Bowls club. They’ve determined that, of these locations, only the Toowong Bowls Club and surrounding area near Perrin Park could be suitable, and will be considered in another round of community consultation alongside the ISHS site.
The Department has also agreed to push back the opening date for the school by one year to ensure time for adequate consultation. I support this because I’ve been telling the Minister and Department from the get go that it is more important to do this process right than to do it quickly. However, I know this also means a longer wait for schools facing immense over-crowding pressures. To those school communities, please know I am committed to working with the Department to ensure adequate stop-gap measures are in place.
I know many locals won't be keen on either the ISHS or Bowls Club option, and I agree there's significant problems with both. The Department has also acknowledged that neither site is ideal, but given the urgent demand, it is crucial one is chosen within the next few months.
Some commonly raised problems with ISHS include significant traffic and safety issues due to there already being four schools in a small area, loss of access to public green space, flooding issues, concerns about limiting ISHS's capacity to expand in the future. Some commonly raised problems with the Toowong site include flooding and contamination concerns, risks to bat and flying fox populations, impacts on public greenspace and loss of a community facility (the Bowls club land), and traffic concerns.
The Department has also made it clear they are open to considering any measures and feedback that would make one of these options workable and acceptable for the broader community. This could include new land acquisition to offset community space and green space, pedestrian safety mechanisms like new traffic lights and safe crossings, investments to improve traffic congestion like more buses and safe cycleways. They've also made clear that they will are currently undertaking independent expert assessment into flooding, traffic and habitat issues at the moment, and have agreed to publish the results of those once complete.
How to have your say to the Department of Education
The consultation processes for new schools in Queensland is coordinated by Building Future Schools, as part of the Department of Education. One of my priorities as the local MP in Maiwar, is ensuring residents get a real say in this process. Over the last few months I've been working hard to hear and amplify the voice of the community to the Department.
Throughout January and February Building Future Schools conducted an online survey and ran four in-person "drop-in" sessions to hear from residents. This initial consultation focused on the location for a new school, and proposed just one specific location- some land near ISHS. In addition to the Department’s consultation, I held my own community meetings to hear from you during February 2021.I've also been communicating with hundreds of residents via email. Based on these conversations, I made my own formal submission to the Department, which you can read in full here.
Following an enormous amount of opposition to the ISHS site proposal and the limited approach to consultation generally, the Department committed to re-opening consultation from 1-30 June 2021. I'd encourage you to register then complete the survey here. We are aware the Department's technology is very clunky and restrictive. When we raised this with the Department back in January they said they'd look into it, but later confirmed there's no way to meaningfully improve it.
You can also directly email the team with your concerns here: [email protected]
The Department’s consultation drop in sessions during this next round of consultation will be:
- Saturday 12 June 2021 (10.00am – 12.00pm) – Heroes Avenue side of Perrin Park – near former Toowong Bowls Club, Toowong
- Wednesday 16 June 2021 (2.30pm – 4.30pm) – Heroes Avenue side of Perrin Park – near former Toowong Bowls Club, Toowong
- Saturday 19 June 2021 (2.00 – 4.00pm) –Indooroopilly State High School – new hall, Turner Street, Indooroopilly.
I'll also be holding 2 events to give you an opportunity to chat with me about your thoughts:
- Pop up office in the park: Saturday 19 June at Perrin Park near Taringa Community Garden from 11-12:30.
- Open office: Thursday 24 June at my office, 1/49 Station Rd Indooroopilly from 2-5pm. Swing by anytime in this window to chat to me.
After years of campaigning, in July 2020 we finally received a commitment from the State government for a new primary school in the inner west, to open on day 1, 2023. The school will include general learning areas, specialist spaces, multimedia spaces, special education facilities and outdoor learning areas. This is supported by $65 million in funding for building work in the 2020 Budget. We also know that there is extra funding to purchase land, drawn from the State-wide pool of $146 million this financial year, with more available next financial year. I'm pushing the Government to ensure there's funding allocated in the 2021/2022 State Budget to acquire new land for our school.
Why we need a new school
Since before I was elected, I've been hearing from locals that we desperately need a new school to properly address overcrowding. Classrooms are full, pool and library time is limited, before and after school care services have long wait lists and demountable classrooms are being erected on school ovals, encroaching on students’ play area. The west side is growing rapidly, and we need long-term planning and infrastructure to keep up with development and densification.
There's still work to do, but whether you came to a community forum, contacted my office, shared your story, signed the petition or helped keep the pressure up on social media, you helped demonstrate just how urgently we need a new school here on the west side, and it paid off.
Now my priority is working with the community, the Minister and the Department of Education, to ensure the planning process for Maiwar's new school is as consultative and effective as possible.
My guiding principles
A site for the new school has not been selected yet and consultation is ongoing. You can find out more about how to have your say here.
After talking to hundreds of local residents about this issue I’ve developed a set of guiding principles about the location of the new school. They are:
- Consultation: The location must be based on detailed community consultation with local residents by the Department of Education.
- P-12: The new school should be P-12 if this is possible based on space. The State government has committed to a primary school, but we know that Indooroopilly State High and Kelvin Grove are both very full and that many west side high school students face a lengthy commute.
- Taringa: The best general location would be around Taringa to fill the large gap in existing catchments formerly occupied by Taringa State School which was sold in 1997, and which would take the pressure off Toowong, Ironside and Indooroopilly State Schools.
- Traffic and transport: A new school will cut traffic overall by allowing more families to walk, cycle and catch public transport, but the site must be located conveniently for public and active transport connections to minimise impact on local residents and maximise walking, cycling and public transport usage among students.
- Public green space: There must be no net loss of public green space including parks and bushland. Any loss of green space must be compensated with new parkland or urban bushland in the electorate.
- Property acquisitions: As a priority, the State government should acquire commercial properties or vacant properties, and should avoid compulsory resumption of existing homes where possible.
- Flooding: As far as possible, the school should not be built in a flood zone.
- Vertical school and green space: A “vertical school” is a viable option as long as students still have safe and convenient access to outdoor green space.
- Catchments and grandfathering: Catchment boundaries for existing schools must be “grandfathered” to allow children to remain at their current school, and to allow children with older siblings at an existing school to attend that school if they wish.
Traffic issues around Lambert Rd
Regardless of where the new school is built, I am committed to working with Council to improve pedestrian safety and improve public and active transport in the Lambert Rd precinct. Click here to read more information about my proposed improvements. If you have kids at St Peters, ISHS, Holy Family or Brigidine College, please take this quick survey to help us understand more about traffic in the area: www.michaelberkman.com.au/school_traffic_survey