River Gum Primary School

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Families and Children and concerns River Gum Primary School in my electorate. The action I seek is that the minister visit River Gum Primary School to discuss Labor’s election commitment to invest $50 million in building and upgrading capital infrastructure.

River Gum Primary School is a fantastic local school located in the heart of Hampton Park. It is also a very diverse school, with students representing 58 different cultural groups. Sadly many face significant disadvantage and financial hardship. The teachers and staff at River Gum Primary School go way beyond the call of duty to support these students and their families. The school has developed a strong relationship with Chisholm Institute and the Hampton Park Women’s Friendship Group to provide playgroup and educational opportunities for children and parents alike. The women’s friendship group made the news on SBS television at the weekend. It is an outstanding example of great community development work. It also provides a much-needed opportunity for women, who would otherwise be isolated, to socialise, make friends and find a pathway themselves to further education or employment.

This outstanding program has been such a success that more than 50 local families now use it, and with better and more accessible facilities it could be significantly expanded. To ensure that it can continue its fine work, the school is working hard on establishing a purpose-built playgroup and preschool facility. Such a facility would enable early intervention for local disadvantaged families, providing our young people and their families with the support and care they need. It would also provide the local community with a wonderful new meeting place and a space for out-of-school activities.

I visited the school late last year to meet with its outstanding principal, Roma McKinnon, and discuss the plans for the facility. I was also given a tour of the school and shown an old, disused indoor pool facility. This building is currently unused and would be perfect for the school to establish its new centre. The school has already costed the project and is looking to secure funding of between $400 000 to $500 000. It is a fantastic opportunity to co-locate a playgroup, kindergarten and primary school at the one site within an already established area. It would also provide significant benefits to the local community and much-needed support for disadvantaged students and their families.

Recently I met with Ms McKinnon, and she showed me what she did in a single day. She is a very busy lady dealing with a whole lot of challenges in the school and needs extra support. The work Ms McKinnon and her staff do is exceptional, and I cannot thank them enough for all that they do. Each and every day they make a difference in the lives of those who need help the most. I ask the minister to join me in visiting the school to see the outstanding work being done at River Gum Primary School and how much more could be achieved with support the government may be able to provide them.