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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3474 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: You would like me to advise you about the incidents of self-harm in the calendar year to date as well as the incidents involving Aboriginals. I am happy to do that, Mr Speaker, as long as there is no question of identifying individual inmates.

Spence Primary School

MR RUGENDYKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Stefaniak, the Education Minister. Minister, the Education Department has endorsed a move from Spence Primary School to Melba campus, therefore merging the two campuses into one next year. There are residents of Spence who are concerned that there was not enough consultation in reaching the decision to close the Spence campus. Are you aware of this dissatisfaction in Spence and can you advise the Assembly whether the consultation process was thoroughly completed?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. Mr Rugendyke, in anything like this, I think it would be impossible to make sure that everyone was happy. I start by saying that I commend the Mount Rogers school community for what was a very thorough process, a process which I understand started about October last year. I have been advised by members of the board, too, that they spoke to merchants at the local shops. I think they did a letterbox drop themselves, from what I was told, in the course of the process. By about August of this year a decision was reached by a majority of the school community to consolidate on one site. The matter was then referred back to the board for them to look at, to go through a very thorough process and hear all the pros and cons as to which site.

As a result of that, Mr Rugendyke, they then made a recommendation to the department and to me. Quite frankly, having been aware of the process they have gone through, I really do not think there is anything in that which would indicate that the Government should do anything other than accept the recommendations of the board. I accept that whichever site they picked there would have been people in the community who were unhappy. If it had been Melba there would be people in the Melba community who would not necessarily like the decision. I recall hearing on the ABC one of the Spence parents who would have very much preferred it to have remained at Spence. This person was asked by the journalist, "Do you think there was a need to consolidate on one campus?". The person said yes, but obviously was concerned that it was the Spence campus and I think that is understandable.

In terms of the general community, I cannot see what much more the school board could have done. One of their recommendations to the Government which I think is terribly important was that the general community be involved in what occurs with the school site. That is something that I and the department are very keen to ensure happens. I think it is important that that site is utilised as quickly as possible. It is an educational facility. It is the property of the Education Department. We run it on behalf of the Territory. I do think that is very important. The department will be ensuring that the general community in Spence will be consulted in relation to future uses of the site.

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