Page 3225 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015

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As more new greenfield sites are opened up around this city and we see new developments becoming established, these new schools, with their associated infrastructure, are necessary, as is their requirement to be more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient.

Of course I am very pleased to see these new schools opening, but in mentioning these emerging needs it puts into focus the issue that Ms Fitzharris has raised in today’s matter of public importance, that is, what happens to the schools in the established suburbs and how are they dealt with. I believe we must take a whole-of-government approach to these infrastructure investments. We need to make the best use of our existing assets.

As we see density increasing in existing and established areas, we need to look carefully at the demographic information that becomes available and consider what sort of housing is being built and what future needs there will be in particular communities. This is particularly relevant when we think about schools in the established parts of the city.

The Greens support adaptive reuse, so we want to make the most of these buildings. We also need to think about the role that schools play both as educational institutions and also as community assets and community facilities in these existing neighbourhoods. That means thinking about what else the school facility may be able to offer to the community as a whole. This is a relevant consideration because we want to enhance our school infrastructure in a way that maximises the infrastructure that the wider community can also use.

This is an interesting consideration. There is the obvious angle of the MPI, which is about making sure that schools in more established parts of the city are kept up to date—and Mr Doszpot spoke of some of those considerations—but it is also about following up on our thinking of the school as a community and the role of the schools within the community and also being community assets. For example, using school halls for local sports, meeting rooms as playgroup spaces or excess land as community garden sites are the sorts of things that are relevant to a local community. There are many such opportunities to keep these parts of school facilities available to the community wherever possible and appropriate. That is something that we also need to be talking to our local communities about as we upgrade our existing schools and change their role as the communities evolve.

I cite this because many of the new BER school halls and school sports facilities are also able to be booked by the community, although I think there are some hiccups in relation to how willing or able the schools are to enable these bookings, in the sense that I understand in some cases teachers have to be there as volunteers for the duration of the external booking, which clearly does not encourage a very strong motivation to lease the facility or rent it out.

Gungahlin College provides a great example of being collocated with TAFE facilities and the public library, right in the middle of the town centre. Mr Doszpot touched on this and said how it is one of our new facilities. But what it points to is that as we revamp and update some of the older facilities, particularly as populations grow in

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