Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for EDUCATION, CHILDREN and YOUTH, Mr JAENSCH
As you know, there are comprehensive hostels for remote and rural students in Hobart. Springvale Student Residence is set to close. We have been contacted by the Isolated Children's Parents' Association and the National Council of Women Tasmania, who are alarmed about what Springvale's closure means for young people from rural and regional areas and their families from next year. They need reassurance. You, as minister and the department understand the huge importance of having this accommodation option in place from next year. They want to know why you have not yet ensured there will be an alternative to Springvale.
Can you today give them, and this House, a guarantee, year 11 and 12 students from rural and remote areas will not be disadvantaged by Springvale's closure - happening as it is in the middle of an affordable housing shortage - and that you will ensure an alternative is in place from next year?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I am aware that Springvale accommodation will be ceasing operations at the end of 2022. The Department of Education is currently providing support to residents and their families and prospective students, as well as to the operator and owner of Springvale Accommodation Pty Ltd, Mr Bob Gilmore. We thank Mr Gilmore for the service he has provided over many years. We understand that due to a range of factors, beyond his or our control, he has made the decision to discontinue operations. We have been supporting him to continue to the end of this year.
Ms O'Connor - So what happens next year?
Mr JAENSCH - The department is exploring with families, a number of alternative accommodation options and other solutions for their future. To support Springvale the department has, as I said, provided additional funding to ensure that Springvale remains open for students until the end of 2022 -
Ms O'Connor - Yes, next year?
Mr JAENSCH - Since March, department officials have been regularly meeting with Mr Gilmore to provide him with support and the department has also established a Springvale support team, which is supporting current residents and known potential residents for 2023. Family and student meetings have already commenced, with a range of different options presented to families to meet individual and unique student needs. Ongoing family and student support will continue until the end of the year.
Ms O'Connor - Yes, but next year?
Mr JAENSCH - Mr Speaker, I will talk to you. Students or families -
Ms O'Connor - That is what they want to know, or you should be anyway.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr JAENSCH - who have been affected by the closure are encouraged to contact the Springvale support team. Our department has commenced work with Housing Tasmania as well to look at all potential opportunities for the site, including possible refurbishments or upgrades, utilising the facility for youth accommodation or other forms of accommodation. These conversations will progress during the remainder of the year as well. The department is progressing other solutions for future students from rural and remote areas, in particular from the Tasman Peninsula. The department is in conversation with other student accommodation providers including Collegiate, Hutchins, TasTAFE, Colony47, Jane Franklin Hall, UTAS and the GETI homestay option.
I am advised that there are currently 32 residents at Springvale. Nineteen families have contacted the support team so far and meetings have been arranged or undertaken and second meetings are booked. We encourage any members here who are approached by families who are affected or potentially affected in their plans next year to make contact with the Springvale support team in the Department of Education.
Ms O'Connor - Is that a guarantee?
Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr JAENSCH - You are speaking over me while I am trying to answer your question. Please let me finish.
I am happy for you to refer inquiries that come to your offices to mine for referral to the Springvale support team. I know that the department has an extensive list of organisations, including what have traditionally been the referring schools associated with people who stay at Springvale, and the families of those who have had residents there in the past and may have siblings coming through the system as well in the future. If you can assist us to spread the word about the Springvale support team -
Ms White - If you send us some details we will.
Mr JAENSCH - I would be very happy to send those contact details to all members' offices.