Protest to save school

Ellenbrook Advocate - - FRONT PAGE - Lau­ren Pi­lat

THE State Gov­ern­ment is putting “ed­u­ca­tion down the drain” by cut­ting fund­ing to the Lands­dale Farm School and other Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment fa­cil­i­ties, says Bulls­brook res­i­dent Joanne Matthew­son.

The mother-of-three will lead a sec­ond protest against the cuts en­ti­tled Peo­ple Power at the farm school in Darch this Satur­day at 10am to pub­licly show­case the im­por­tance of the af­fected fa­cil­i­ties.

The protest comes af­ter the Gov­ern­ment last year an­nounced mil­lions of dol­lars in ed­u­ca­tion cuts by 2019 to fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing the res­i­den­tial col­lege in Moora, Herds­man Lake Wildlife Cen­tre and Tuart and Can­ning col­leges.

Ms Matthew­son, who sub­mit­ted a pe­ti­tion to Par­lia­ment in June with about 2500 sig­na­tures de­mand­ing the de­ci­sion be re­versed, said tak­ing the fund­ing away and putting the ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties up for pri­vate ten­der was a waste.

“Cut­ting fund­ing to th­ese fa­cil­i­ties is like wash­ing valu­able ed­u­ca­tion down the drain,” Ms Matthew­son said.

“No­body will run Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment camps and the Lands­dale Farm School like they are now.”

Ms Matthew­son’s com­ments came af­ter the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment ad­ver­tised the farm school and six camp­sites for pri­vate ten­der ear­lier this year.

Ap­pli­ca­tions closed in April and are now un­der re­view, with a de­ci­sion ex­pected later this year about which or­gan­i­sa­tions would take over the man­age­ment of each fa­cil­ity.

Ms Matthew­son, a Dis­abil­ity Ser­vices Com­mis­sion sup­port worker, said th­ese fa­cil­i­ties were im­por­tant ed­u­ca­tion as­sets to the com­mu­nity and needed to re­main as they were.

“The Lands­dale Farm School gives kids, es­pe­cially chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties, an ed­u­ca­tion around agri­cul­ture and a pur­pose,” she said.

“What the Gov­ern­ment should do, in­stead of cut­ting the fund­ing, once the kids with spe­cial needs fin­ish their qual­i­fi­ca­tions at Lands­dale Farm School the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment should link them with smaller coun­try towns not too far away where they can work in farms so they’re ac­tu­ally us­ing their de­gree, rather than them end­ing up in shel­tered work­shops in con­crete fac­to­ries like they do now.”

Ms Matthew­son said chil­dren in coun­try towns, where there were not too many job op­por­tu­ni­ties, could get sup­port worker qual­i­fi­ca­tions to as­sist those chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

“You can get those kids with dis­abil­i­ties liv­ing in shared hous­ing with sup­port work­ers, which is good for par­ents be­cause their child who they thought was never go­ing to have much of a fu­ture can live in­de­pen­dently,” she said. “It ticks so many boxes. “It ticks the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­surance Scheme box, dis­abil­ity ser­vices, agri­cul­ture needs, and ed­u­ca­tion while im­prov­ing the lives of so many.”

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt­mu­ni­ d485057

Joanne Matthew­son and baby Florence with Holly Clark and daugh­ter Abi­gail (front), Char­lie Pick­er­ing and Quee­nie Matthew­son.

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