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East Derwent Primary School and Jordan River Learning Federation - Community Safety Maps

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Tags: Education, Students, Community Safety

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I wish to share with the House a really fantastic group of students, their teacher and Holly Sluiter from the Salvation Army and Communities for Children who came along on Monday to present to me some of the work they have been doing on community safety. They came to my office having been to see my colleague, Mr Bacon, and giving a similar presentation to him. Certainly the students from East Derwent Primary School and everyone who worked with them should be immensely proud.

This project started in 2016 when the East Derwent Primary School worked with Colony 47, Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Smith Family to create community safety maps. The students were asked about their neighbourhood and the places where they felt safe, the places where they felt a bit unsafe and those where they felt very unsafe. The maps were marked with green for safety, orange for not certain and red for unsafe.

Everyone in this place would agree that every child has the right to feel loved, safe and wanted. The students of East Derwent Primary School identified there were places in and around where they lived where they definitely did not feel safe and the particular place that was identified was an underpass. The students identified safe and unsafe areas in their community and had really good discussions about how you work together to improve safety. Maps and ideas were shared for improving safety in Bridgewater at a number of events including school assembly, a Brighton Alive community meeting and with politicians at Parliament House in Hobart.

In 2017 a new student representative council was elected who decided to continue with this work of community safety. They collected photos of the underpass which showed the area was dark, dirty, littered with broken glass, covered in graffiti and cobwebs. There were also dangerous steep drops down to the underpass from the banks of the edge. I should be clear that I am reading from the presentation report these delightful and motivated students gave to me on Monday. They say:

With the help of the Salvation Army and Centacare we met with local council and proposed a plan to clean and paint the underpass. We also worked with the community centre who said they helped with removing rude words or with contacting council straight away if dangerous rubbish was found.

The local council approved the students' plan for the underpass. They held a footy colours and meat pie day to raise money for the underpass. They say they surveyed the whole school about what they would like to see on the underpass. Popular responses were children playing, nature and fidget spinners.

The Salvation Army and Centacare helped the students find a local artist who used the sketches that were provided to plan out the mural. For students day they then painted some of them spent time in the holidays working hard too. The council agreed to put in barriers to improve safety.

The transformation of this little underpass, this little pocket in Bridgewater through which the children were not feeling safe before, has been extraordinary. I know you are not supposed to have props in the House but the contrast between a dark and scary looking place and this colourful, vibrant, welcoming and safe looking underpass has been extraordinary. It is a testament to the community-mindedness of those students, their desire to contribute and to be part of positive solutions and the fact that they were heard. That is one of the most important things with children. When they have a concern, when they say something to us like, 'I don't feel safe', we must heed that.

The community at Jordan River Learning Federation and East Derwent Primary School should be warmly commended for the transformation of this underpass on their way to school. The fact that students and teachers were volunteering during the school holidays only reinforces what can happen to transform your community when a group of committed people get together with a group of determined young people.