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Children, Education and Youth – South Hobart Primary School

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Tags: Schools

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I've had quite lengthy conversations with your predecessor about the situation at South Hobart Primary School, which is receiving no capital funding for upgrades in this year's Budget despite the fact that there are now three classrooms - 80 students inside the school hall. The library was lost last year. There was a plan to install two temporary classrooms to allow the library to reopen, but these classrooms didn't get built before the school year and are now just in the planning stage. The school has been flooded and this has caused further pressure on learning spaces. The question that I'm asking on behalf of South Hobart Primary School is, currently at South Hobart, there are three classrooms being taken inside in the school hall following severe flooding - can you imagine how stressful that is? I am sure you are aware the library was lost last year. These temporary classrooms haven't been built. What have you done to expedite these works and what plans do you or the department have to complete them in a timely fashion?

Mr JAENSCH - Our Government has a track record of investment at the South Hobart Primary School, including a $3.6 million upgrade in 2017, to provide additional learning areas; and more than $700,000 for storm water related civil works in 2020-21. We recognise the needs of that school and the need for more learning areas for the school due to growth in South Hobart. As an interim measure, as you point out, the department is working with the school to install two modular units on the school site at the end of Term 2 this year, for extra learning areas.

The department also initiated development of a long-term master plan for the site, which was informed by extensive consultation with students, staff and the broader community in 2021. The longer-term master plan provides six additional general learning areas, increasing capacity from 425 to 575 students; a purpose-built library space; and improved accessibility and connectively across the school site.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Minister. None of the information in the Budget gives comfort to South Hobart Primary school students, parents or teachers. On the flooding issue, in May 2021, the Commonwealth allocated $648,000 to fix the flooding issue at the school which is due to storm water. A year later, the school flooded again, which has placed further pressure on learning environments. Can you confirm that none of that $648,000 has been spent; the storm water mitigation works have not commenced; and a year after receiving the funding, the school floods again?

Mr JAENSCH - Two stages of storm water mitigation works are being undertaken. Stage one of the works were completed in early 2021 at a cost to the department of $738,000. Recently confirmed Commonwealth funding of $648,000, together with additional funding from the department, will be used to undertake a second stage of works aimed at helping to prevent future floods.

Ms O'CONNOR - What is the time frame?

Mr JAENSCH - The second stage of works will be commenced as soon as possible, expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Ms O'CONNOR - I take on board your answer about master planning; but I had the same bland reassurances from your predecessor as minister and here we are - another Budget and South Hobart Primary School still does not have the learning facility it needs and is still flooding. Can you give a rock-solid commitment to the parents of students at South Hobart Primary School that, when you are planning the capital expenditure for next year's education Budget, you will have South Hobart Primary School right there, in front of mind?

Mr JAENSCH - It is certainty a high priority site for capital investment. We've shown that we have previously invested with $3.6 million and we have $700,000 in storm water related civil works. Part of those, Ms O'Connor, as I have said, are about preventing future flood events not just dealing with the aftermath. There are new modular units arriving this term and second stage of flood prevention works will be completed by the end of this year. We will stay engaged with the school. We know people love their school environments and we want them to be as fit for purpose as possible. The unfortunate flood events that we have had to deal with have slowed progress, but we are investing in preventing them. We need to do that as a basis for further investment in the master plan. We hear you, and that school community, about their needs. I hope that the information I have provided is of some comfort to them.