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Education, Children and Young People – Springvale Student Accommodation

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Tags: Education, Housing, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, the department's decision to close Springvale student accommodation in Newtown last year caused a lot of upset in the broader rural and region community in the south. Because we take responsibility to advocate for this community seriously, we sought a briefing and asked a few questions about it last year. We were assured that all current and future enrolled Springvale students would be provided with alternative accommodation options for this school year, and that you are working on providing a long-term solution for 2024 and beyond. What safe, appropriate and affordable accommodation will be available for rural and regional students from grades 7 to 12 attending school in greater Hobart this year and next year?

Mr JAENSCH - Springvale Accommodation Proprietary Limited ceased operations at the end of 2022. I acknowledge that changes to student accommodation in Hobart are a significant disruption for some families from regional areas. There is ongoing work to support access to education for students from regional communities on a more sustainable footing into the future. It involves moving student accommodation to comparable statewide settings, given the Department also provides year 11 and year 12 student accommodation at Hellyer and at Newstead Colleges. There are processes underway which highlight the need to prioritise safety of our young people. Accommodation for school-age students is a setting which the Department must consider very carefully, in terms of how we ensure safety of the young people who are in accommodation that we facilitate.

There is ongoing work within the department to find the options in southern Tasmania, and this will include an opportunity for internal and external stakeholders to engage and provide their inputs into longer-term options for student accommodation.

The Department is also progressing other innovative solutions for future students from rural and remote areas, in particular the east coast; and including linking Newstead College accommodation and the Tasman Peninsula, including increased course offerings there.

Ms O'CONNOR - A range of sweeping generalities. That wasn't my question.

Mr JAENSCH - For 2023, the department's providing support to students and families and has negotiated for accommodation space at a TasTAFE accommodation facility and at Jane Franklin Hall. There is sufficient space in these facilities to accommodate all students who would have sought accommodation for 2023.

The department's also supporting families with the costs of alternative boarding arrangements that ensures no family needs to be financially disadvantaged by the changes. The scheme is offered to support existing residents who attend Tasmanian Government schools to complete their year 12 education.

Our duty of care in accordance with National Principles for Child Safe Organisations is being meet by having students supported by supervision from the department staff. Trudy Pearce, Deputy Secretary for Children and Young People, can provide some more details on the arrangements for -

Ms O'CONNOR - If that can be wrapped up in a couple of minutes. A brief update would be good.

Ms PEARCE - In relation to the students who are residing at the TasTAFE and the Jane Franklin, we are completing regular check-ins. We have an officer who is responsible for their wellbeing and welfare. We have recently conducted a survey relating to all of those young people and their families, and it was positive. We are also having welfare checks around attendance and a whole range of areas. It has been a positive outcome for the families and the students to date.