Page 3226 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015
certain areas, we must think about school facilities as facilities for the whole community.
Fencing of school facilities is a contentious issue. I understand that some school communities welcome the perceived safety and security that fences offer. However, the fencing of school facilities limits informal after school and weekend use by the local community. This reduces the passive surveillance and sense of local community ownership of schools in established suburbs. Schools also have great playgrounds and sports courts and playing fields but, unfortunately, the trend towards fencing these facilities means that they are inaccessible, essentially, to the public after hours. This means that each suburb has a number of playgrounds that neighbourhood children simply cannot use.
The Greens prefer to use the approach of keeping school grounds accessible to the community. We have been contacted by a number of constituents who have raised questions about school decision making relating to perimeter fences around public school ovals and adjacent facilities. Their concerns are that perimeter fencing blocks access to school playgrounds which have historically been used by the broader community. This broader community use contributed to a sense of shared ownership of the space. As I said earlier, it allowed for passive surveillance, as well as the use of playgrounds and playing fields after school and on weekends by children, teenagers and families.
An interesting example is Ainslie Public School, which proposed to install a perimeter fence. The local community did not support it and now the site is very well used by the public out of school hours. This is a real dilemma for the schools. I have asked a range of principals that I have met over time about their views on it. They speak to the benefit of reduced vandalism and reduced antisocial behaviour. I think there is a real tension here and it is an area that probably does warrant some further consideration.
In the context of modernising schools it is also appropriate to talk about the areas that surround and connect schools in our established suburbs. One of the issues that we are seeing—and we are all being approached on this by our constituents—is a concern about the room for parking at our schools and the issue of student safety as more and more vehicles drive to school. There is a great deal of work that we can do to support and encourage children walking and riding to school, as well as taking public transport.
Our schools are facing increasing pressure from the number of people that are driving their kids to school. The pressure is on to build more parking spaces. We have got education dollars but this is not where I want to see them being spent. I want to see them spent on a range of other things. If we are revamping schools then we want the money to go into some of the issues Mr Doszpot raised and some of the issues we all know are there in some of these ageing facilities.
To that end, Territory and Municipal Services and Justice and Community Safety, in partnership with the Education and Training Directorate, are currently running an excellent project that seeks to create more supportive environments for children to take active travel to get to school. This is a pilot program called the active streets pilot