My adjournment is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is that he provides Greater Shepparton Secondary College the resources it needs to address the escalating bullying and violence being experienced at the school. Your government, through the Shepparton Education Plan, has provided $120 million for the new Greater Shepparton Secondary College, an extraordinary investment and opportunity to transform secondary education in our region. The falling enrolment numbers, poor attendance rates, low aspiration and educational outcomes were widely known across all regional areas, and the investment in the Shepparton Education Plan has been very welcome in the hope that these long-term issues will be addressed.
The new buildings are well progressed, and the facilities being provided are outstanding. Our children deserve this state-of-the-art, fit-for-purpose building, but at the moment and during this transition period there is ongoing bullying. There is fear, racial tensions and escalating violence among a small group of students at the school. During last year at the Mooroopna campus those tensions were starting out, they were increasing, and last week they erupted at the Wanganui campus, culminating in really terrible incidents on Friday the 26th. The violence clearly demonstrated the underlying and unresolved issues that have been festering not only in our secondary colleges but in the broader community for several years.
Parents have contacted my office and are reporting that they are very concerned about the level of violence. Some students are too frightened to attend school. As hard as they may try, teachers are under-resourced to deal with these matters. It is time to tackle this head-on; it is time to draw a line in the sand. Any form of violence should not be tolerated in any setting. Greater Shepparton Secondary College needs the additional resources you have recently provided on campus to continue throughout the whole year to tackle this issue. The police must do their job and receive full cooperation from all of those involved to gather the evidence they need and to bring to justice those students who have broken the law.
Shepparton is a multicultural society, and this in itself creates challenges. We congratulate ourselves on this, but we need to deal with it and we need to make our community one that can work together on issues like this. I have worked all weekend speaking with parents, police, school representatives, departmental officers and the minister’s office to ensure the supports are available. I ask that these stay in place on an ongoing basis.