Decision Maker

James Merlino

  • Minister for Education, Victoria

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Victory
Petitioning Luke Donnellan

Hit and Run drivers should lose their Licence automatically.

In October 2017 our son Tyler was taken from us by the actions of a Hit and Run driver whilst he was out riding his bike with a friend. Thankfully the driver was caught, but was just as quickly let out on bail with no conditions. Most astonishingly, he did not have his licence suspended until the outcome of his court case, as there is currently no legislation in place to allow this.  Overall, a person can be ten feet from pulling into their driveway and be pulled over. If they have been speeding excessively or had a few too many drinks they automatically lose their licence after miraculously making it home safely. This is a good thing, BUT, you can kill someone with your car, drive off and leave your innocent victims broken, dead or dying body laying by the side of the road and you get to walk away, live your life, have a child, celebrate birthdays and Christmases for up to, or over, a year whilst the courts process the case. The amount of Hit and Runs over the last few years has increased and the penalty needs to increase with it. It is a cowards crime and the victims families deserve to see that the law takes it seriously from the very first day. The drivers are entitled to bail but they have lost the right to drive a car when they have shown so little respect for others lives. Its hard enough that we have to live without our beautiful son but our pain is so much worse when we see the Driver nonchalantly living his life in our small town, whilst we have lost so much.  Please, change the legislation in honour of Tyler Dean and all the other innocent victims of Hit and Run drivers. For the ones who lived, and the beautiful angels who didn't. Thank you

Jeynelle Dean
33,773 supporters
Petitioning Daniel Andrews, Lisa Neville MP, James Merlino, Ben Carroll MP, Jill Hennessy MP, Gabrielle Williams MP

Rape victims like me are being failed by Victoria Police

My name is Lena*. I was raped by a family member of a former senior member of Victoria Police. I was forced to report the crime to a station an hour away from where I live and where officers were likely to know my rapist's family. After reporting it to police, I was told to consider the effect my allegations would have on my rapist’s future and that they "usually deal with more serious cases". After failing to collect critical evidence properly, and pressuring me to retract my statement, they dropped the case.  When I made a formal complaint, I felt it was not taken seriously and it was simply sent back to the police station concerned to deal with. My experience with Victoria Police significantly exacerbated the toll that the assault had taken on my mental health, studies, and finances. Since starting this petition, I have been contacted by numerous women with similar stories of botched police investigations and unacceptable police attitudes towards victims. I’m asking the Victorian Government to: Ensure all police members are aware that crimes  can be investigated by any Victorian police station where there is likely to be bias or conflict of interest. In order to prevent corruption, it should be made an offence for Police to use equipment to collect evidence without knowing how to use the equipment. Police failure to collect critical evidence, or "losing" evidence, should be automatically and immediately investigated by an independent anti-corruption body. Establish an INDEPENDENT body to investigate ALL alleged police misconduct. Police should not be investigating themselves. Fund trained social work professionals at all police stations to guide victims of crime through the legal processes, to support them, and to provide information and crisis counselling. Many countries have this model and I believe it would also help to ensure police respond appropriately to sexual assault as there would be a witness to the conduct of the police. Please don’t let the hell I have been through be in vain. Please sign my petition demanding a system that no longer fails rape victims.

lena M
22,938 supporters
Petitioning Josh Frydenberg, Daniel Andrews, Greg Hunt, Scott Morrison, Michael O'Brien, Brett Sutton, James Merlino

Help us get Victorian school children back in the classroom

Help us get Victorian school children back in the classroom. Melbourne school children will spend more of the academic year excluded from the classroom than any other part of Australia – and likely more than any other country in the world. Yet there has been no discussion, debate or proper evidence to support this decision. We ask that schools be opened at the beginning of term four. We also ask that decisions concerning our children’s education, and school closures are debated by an independent representative task force which includes teachers, parents, paediatricians and other health specialists. This is necessary to ensure transparency in the decision-making process, that all risks are considered and balanced, and decisions are not influenced by political agendas. Our schools have been the first thing to close and the last thing to open. The online education our children have been receiving is sub-standard, not because teachers, parents and students aren’t trying, they are all doing an amazing job, but simply because children should not be taught that way for extended periods. Furthermore, school closures amplify inequalities for many children as they are forced to remain home in highly stressed environments. Practical issues for many families include poor internet, limited access to devices, and a lack of space to learn in crowded households with limited supervision available. These reasons and many more contribute to poor academic learning, social development and impact greatly on the mental, physical and emotional health of our children. The view that after this length of time they will bounce back is a complete falsehood. Expert medical advice has been consistent that schools are safe for students and teachers with the right protocols in place. Schools across the world are applying a variety of methods to keep schools open and disseminating and teaching public health messages in the classroom is a highly effective way of sending information home to families and communities. The rights of children and the importance of education is a long-term fundamental tenet of our society. The action currently being inflicted upon our state’s youth is destructive and violates these fundamental principles. The closure of schools is illegal without an extended state of emergency which our Premier is currently looking to extend. School closures should be exempt from any agreement on the extension of the SoE powers, and further closures should not be allowed without the full sitting of parliament and multi-disciplinary independent advice. We can no longer ignore the fact that online learning for such an extended period is unsustainable and damaging our children now, not some time in the future. We have a moral duty to get our children back into classrooms and to ensure we do everything we can, so they stay there.

Phoebe Rolleston
14,189 supporters
Victory
Petitioning James Merlino, Daniel Andrews

Allow School Photos in Term 4

Time is running out and there is still an estimated 500,000 students who have not yet had a school photo taken. We need your help to get back into schools. The Department of Education and Training Victoria has declared that school photos cannot be taken in Victorian schools during Term 4. Aside from giving families a lasting memory, school photos are an essential school service. They are used in every school for the purposes of student and staff identification (including ID cards and medical alerts), as well as archival/historical records, and to mark milestones such as graduations. Like many Victorian businesses, school photo companies have been hit hard this year with over 500 workers being stood down since March. As a united body, changes have been made to procedures and product offerings to enable us to safely get back into schools and work with those that have missed out.  Families have missed out on so much this year, we feel that it is important for them to have a lasting memory of their 2020 school year, especially for students starting school or graduating in Year 6 or Year 12. These are memories that families treasure and that cannot be recreated in 2021. School administrators and educators are asking for school photos to be allowed as they believe this service to be essential. Essential for school administration and essential for students and parents/guardians to give them an emotional record of the school year they are proud to have endured and survived. The photography businesses of Victoria are hopeful of this decision being overturned so that they can photograph as many schools as possible in the little time they have left of this year. They want to ensure ALL schools receive 2020 student images, not only for administration and archiving but to bring some pleasure and normality to a year that has been full of disappointment to many. It will also allow an industry that is on its knees to give work back to over 500 local employees and keep themselves financially viable. Victorian photography companies have agreed to ensuring their staff complete daily health checks before starting each day, have created entirely touch free photographic processes to use within the school and can easily maintain Social Distancing within our schools during the photographic process. We ask that you reconsider your decision to ban school photographs from being taken in Victorian schools in Term 4 – there is a lot more to lose than to be gained by this decision. This will be a much needed boost to the mental health of so many people; school staff, parents and students alike.

Scott Francis
12,200 supporters
Petitioning Victorian Building Authority, Daniel Andrews, James Merlino, Richard Wynne

Ask our leaders to keep winter shelters open!

Victorian Building Authority leaves homeless in the cold Please note, if you would like to support Stable One financially, click here. Donations asked for after you sign go to Change.org and are not received by Stable One. Numbers of people experiencing homelessness in Australia are increasing. On any given day, approximately 25,000 people in Victoria are sleeping rough, or living in emergency or unsafe accommodation (DHHS). In the Yarra Valley, more than 300 people are experiencing homelessness, with many sleeping in the park, in cars or in doorways due to the lack of crisis accommodation Stable One is a registered charity that works with local churches, using buildings that would otherwise be empty at night to provide shelter to people experiencing homelessness. In addition to a safe, warm place to sleep, churches offer guests a warm meal, resources and company. Run by around 200 trained volunteers, the Winter Night Shelter fills a critical gap in our social safety net - readily available, safe accommodation at no cost to the government.  On the 21st of August 2019, the Winter Night Shelter was shut down by Yarra Ranges Council because churches had not obtained new occupancy permits for their buildings to classify them as ‘accommodation’.  If planning minister Richard Wynne’s intention is to “make sure the places people sleep are safe”, then the only practical solution is to allow churches to open their doors to the homeless. How is the street a safer place to sleep than a church? It’s time to call upon the Victorian Government and the Victorian Building Authority to allow churches to operate winter shelters without changing their occupancy permits, so that they can continue to support some of Australia’s most vulnerable.  Sign now and make a difference! Please note, if you would like to support Stable One financially, click here. Donations asked for after you sign go to Change.org and are not received by Stable One. Find out more about Stable One 

Stable One Ltd
9,069 supporters
Petitioning James Merlino, Daniel Andrews, Australian Education Union

Remote learning for all students during lockdown.

Remote learning for all students and no onsite teaching till end of lockdown. This is a call on the Victorian government to ensure that for the duration of the lockdown, all students take part in remote learning (including senior school students) and, not to send teachers back to onsite teaching. 1. REMOTE LEARNING FOR ALL STUDENTS – DURING TERM 3 LOCKDOWN In the latest press conference Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said of the outbreak in Al-Taqwa college, ‘The virus appeared to have spread among senior students with the same virulence as is seen among adults. They are older kids, they tend to have more transmission that is akin to adults if they’re not doing the physical distancing appropriately." Given that the government have identified the risk of spread is higher than they first anticipated in senior secondary students – there is no rational justification for putting the health of teachers and students at risk by sending senior students and teachers back to school. We can see from Al-Taqwa College how quickly this virus can get out of hand in a school setting. It is the now the largest outbreak we have had in Victoria. This was despite the school trying their utmost to prevent an outbreak through daily temperature testing, hand sanitiser and social distancing measures. In addition, most of the positive cases linked to this outbreak were discovered on the school break. This could have been a far worse situation had they have still been at school. 2. IF YOU CAN WORK FROM HOME, YOU MUST WORK FROM HOME We can work from home and engage in remote learning for the short term, especially as we know this will reduce the risk of transmission and contraction of Covid-19. If we are remotely teaching this can be done from home, there is no reason for staff to be forced back to school in this current climate. Last time we had a lockdown – schools were kept open for children of essential workers. In light of the information around the transmission of the virus through aerosol water droplets that are created through breathing, the distribution of personal protective equipment in addition to training in its effective use, is vital to ensure that the children of essential workers and their teachers can effectively reduce the risk of transmission.   As a teacher I am worried about the risk that this return to school poses to my colleagues, my students and my family. Hundreds are being diagnosed everyday. I dislike remote teaching, but in this situation it is necessary to prevent the continuation of these outbreaks. Education is important however, being dead or seriously ill negates education. The health and wellbeing of my family and students is my highest priority. 

Sawsan Hassan
6,868 supporters
Petitioning Daniel Andrews, James Merlino, Jenny Mikakos, Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Luke Donnellan, Tim Richardson, Harriet Shing, Sam Hibbins, Cindy McLeish, Bernie Finn, Tim Bull, Samantha Ratnam, Brett Sutton, Cor...

Urgent need for special schools to be afforded equal health rights as mainstream schools

As special needs educators, we have always instilled in our students that they have a voice and have the same rights as others in their community.  When Covid-19 hit Melbourne, Victoria in a bigger and stronger wave than the first, and stage 3 restrictions were reinstated, we watched the press conference headed by the HON Daniel Andrews, announcing the changes to term three schooling. Our expectation was that specialist settings would not be treated any differently to other educators and students in Melbourne, Victoria. To our disbelief, this was not the case. The HON Daniel Andrews announced that while mainstream students prep- 10 would be given a one week holiday extension, and staff would return for five days of pupil free planning days, before a possible return to remote learning, special education settings would return to school as normal.  All teachers regardless of their setting, teach to achieve equity through education. The health and safety of our students is paramount to them achieving this, as is the health and safety of the staff entrusted to deliver this education.   This decision to return special education students to school regardless of Covid-19 and regardless of their right to a safe education, will have a detrimental effect on students who are already vulnerable in so many ways.  We ask that you sign this petition to let the HON Daniel Andrews, James Merlino, Meredith Peace and any other bystander know, that the lives of students living with a disability matter, that their health and safety matters, and that so do that of the staff who support them. We ask that they protect us in the same way they are willing to protect mainstream staff and students, therefore, keeping them home in the first week of term 3, 2020. We also ask that any health and safety decisions made about mainstream students in the future, also be afforded to special needs students. Please sign to show your support for the health rights of special needs students in Melbourne.  

Concerned Special Education Staff Melbourne Victoria
6,141 supporters
Petitioning James Merlino, Richard Wynne, Cr Noel Cliff, Cr Mike Clarke, Cr Tim Heenan, Cr Tony Stevenson, Cr Terry Avery, Cr Jim Child, Cr Richard Higgins, Cr Fiona McAllister, Cr Len Cox

Save Sherbrooke's Iconic Avenue of Beeches

Developers Shannon Bennett and Adam Garrison submitted a last minute proposal at an Independent Planning Panel hearing in December 2017 which outlined their intention to remove 13 of the National Trust listed Beech trees that line Sherbrooke Road in order to accommodate driveway and road widening works at the entrance to the Burnham Beeches Estate.  This proposal was vehemently opposed by multiple community members who presented at the Panel hearing, citing the importance of the retention of the trees, of which the property is renowned and derives its name, as they form an iconic part of the Sherbrooke landscape and are of highly significant heritage value. The National Trust and Heritage Victoria also expressed their concerns at the possible removal of these trees due to their significance, and the fact that it is the only Avenue of Copper Beeches on the National Trust’s Significant Tree Register, with only 4 other individual Beech specimens classified in Victoria. This issue has also received much local media attention as a result of the contentious nature of the proposal. An alternate proposal was presented to the Panel members at the hearing in December, compiled by a Traffic Engineer contracted by Council, which slightly lowered the amount of Beech trees to be removed to approximately 10 trees. This alternate proposal was touted as a 'solution' to the tree Beech issue, despite the high number of Beeches that would still require removal to accommodate this alternate layout. The Panel members final recommendation was that further investigations be conducted by Council and the developers to establish whether additional alterations could be made to the driveway and road widening layout to potentially increase the amount of Beech trees to be retained - "where possible". The Panel members recommendation included a statement which added that if no solution could be found with regards to the retention of the Beech trees, after these additional investigations had been conducted, then the Council's alternate layout should be implemented, which would still see approximately 10 of the National Trust listed Beeches removed. No formal investigations have been conducted by the Council and/or the developers regarding possible alternate driveway and road works layouts in order to retain the Beech trees since the Panel hearing in December last year. A Yarra Ranges Council meeting was conducted on the 27th of March this year at which Councillors voted in favour of allowing the developers joint planning scheme amendment and planning permit application to be forwarded to Planning Minister Richard Wynne's office for final approval. This was despite the fact that no further investigations had taken place, or finalised plans implemented, regarding the driveway and road widening works, and subsequent potential Beech tree removal. The Councillors essentially voted in favour of seeking the Minister's approval first, and then conducting these investigations after the fact if the Minister approves the amendment. The amendment has now, very recently, been forwarded to the Minister's office by Council. If Minister Wynne chooses to approve the amendment in its current state, he would be signing off on the premise that he is comfortable with the Council and the developers coming to a finalised version of the driveway, road works, and consequent Beech tree removal without the need for him to know what the finalised layout would actually consist of and how many Beech trees would be impacted as a result. He would essentially be putting trust in the Council and the developers to come up with a suitable finalised plan, with faith that they will do their best to retain the Beech trees "where possible"... There is also a small possibility that the Minister may be hesitant in giving his approval on the amendment at this stage without this important information having been provided and without this issue having been first resolved. We are of the opinion that the Minister should not sign off on the amendment until further investigations have taken place and a finalised plan, in relation to the Beech trees and road and driveway widening works, is submitted to his office. As opposed to simply putting trust in the developers and Council to make this decision after the fact, which in many ways comes across as a 'cart before the horse' approach to what is a highly contentious and important issue. Please sign to show your support, and feel free to comment why this matters to you, we won't let them destroy our beautiful area.

Dylan Arnold
5,449 supporters
Petitioning Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Anthony Albanese, Daniel Andrews, Hon. Dan Tehan MP, James Merlino

COVID19: Humanitarian and financial support needed for international students in Australia

In light of the ongoing global crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, citizens and permanent residents are receiving every possible support and assistance from the Australian government. Yet, a huge section of the population remains to be deprived of equal attention – International students. Australia is known to be one of the most favourable and friendly countries for international students. According to the Department of Education, the number of international students commencing studies in Australia has gone up from 553,057 in 2016 to 758,154 up till 2019. January 2020 alone saw the addition of 517,519 international students, with the highest number of students migrating to Victoria and New South Wales as 168,800 and 199,800 respectively. There seems to be no attention and acknowledgement of the challenges faced by the international students in the country. Especially the ones that have arrived recently (Jan-Mar 2020). Most of the Australian universities are switching to online/recorded lectures for students’ safety. It is highly appreciated and need of the hour. And, we are all in this together.  Let’s think about International students. They have paid a massive amount of fees as compared to the local students to get the world-class education experience and problem-solving environment. They are also bearing a high cost of living. And, nevertheless, students are facing difficult times surviving with supermarkets running out of the stocks. Adding all these issues together, let’s think about mental health issues among international students. Some students are required to self-isolate and it’s getting really difficult to manage everything because they’re staying away from their families. The decision made by the government allowing international students to work for more hours is shocking. They expect international students to risk their health/lives by working more and in return there’s no support and attention whatsoever. Let’s ponder upon another shocking situation. As we know, Australia last month implemented a total direct travel ban from China. More than 106,000 international students from China were stuck. It was recently revealed that 32,000 Chinese students had circumvented this ban, at a rate of around 1,000 arrivals a day, by travelling to third countries like Thailand and Dubai. They spent 14 days in purported ‘self-isolation’ before travelling into Australia. This circumvention of the travel ban was aided and abetted by several universities, which offered grants of up to $7,500 to Chinese students to help fund travel packages to third-country transit destinations. Australian government kept a blind eye to risk other countries for its financial benefit. What a shame! Nobody is to be blamed, but times like this require a humanitarian approach where everyone is treated equally. We demand following immediate actions from the Australian Universities and Australian Government for the duration of this pandemic: Equal fee structure for international and local students should be put into place Access to equal Medicare (bulk billing) services to international students Access to Mental Health counselling services for international students Access to any emergency financial support system  In the long run, the following actions are required from the Australian Government to support international students: Charge little extra for the OSHC health insurance but provide equal access to Medicare facility similar to permanent resident and Australian citizens. In its current form, we are isolated to limited services. And most students do not use it at all. Hence a total waste of money in its current form. Offer public transport discount to postgraduate international students as well. Coming from overseas after paying high fees and cost of living in Australia, small support with public transport discount (similar to graduate students) would bring a big difference in the student’s life.  If the above immediate actions are not taken, international students would be left with the following options: Suffer due to isolation and lack of jobs in tough times Defer current semester and resume studies from the next semester Withdraw from the course altogether and enrol into online degree courses from anywhere else in the world  We expect empathy from all. And any support/attention to international students in the current situation would be highly appreciated. Please sign this petition to show your support.

Anonymous .
4,611 supporters
Don't ignore kids driven to suicide from homophobic bullying – provide victims counselling

Bullying will not be tolerated in our schools. All children and young people have a right to be treated with dignity and respect no matter their background, disability or sexual orientation The allegations raised in this case are deeply concerning and I have asked the Department to investigate. All schools must have in place policies and procedures to prevent bullying and to ensure the safety and well-being of students. There are a range of expert services and supports available to students who are victims of bullying within schools such as student wellbeing coordinators, chaplains and through School Services Support Officers, such as psychologists, social workers and guidance officers. I am pleased that Nathan is currently in school and continuing his education. This clearly demonstrates his resilience and courage in extremely difficult circumstances.

5 years ago