STOP Planned Demolition of Sunshine Technical College Boys & Girls Art Moderne Buildings!

STOP Planned Demolition of Sunshine Technical College Boys & Girls Art Moderne Buildings!

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Greater Sunshine Community Alliance started this petition to Department of Education and Training Victoria and

The Education Department has recently signalled its intention to put out a tender to demolish the Sunshine Technical College's Boys and Girls Trades Buildings (Sunshine Secondary School site) and retain as a green field site for undisclosed future education needs. The State government’s reason for demolition of the former Sunshine Secondary School sites is due to vandalism and antisocial behaviour on the sites.

We strongly oppose the demolition of the Sunshine Secondary School sites and seek assurances that the heritage buildings will be retained in an ongoing way as useful, well maintained, functioning spaces that continue to be a visible symbol of the fact that this historical site was both a pioneering Victorian and national technical training facility for girls and boys and, following the war years, returned veterans.

We are concerned that the demolition of the Sunshine Technical College's Boys and Girls Trades Buildings will set a dangerous precedent for developments, at the expense of Sunshine’s heritage, and the important contributions Sunshine has made in shaping Australia’s economy, technical education and labour framework will be erased from the community’s consciousness forever.

Our petitioners ask that Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria:

1.     As a matter of urgency, supports the stopping of the Education Department's planned tender process for demolition of heritage Sunshine Technical College boys and girls technical training buildings.  

2.     Supports to have these buildings retained in an ongoing way as useful, well maintained, functioning spaces that continue to be a visible symbol of the fact that from 1913 until its closure in 1991 this historical site was both a pioneering Victorian and national technical training facility for girls and boys and, following the war years, returned veterans.

Read below for information about the historical importance of the site:

Sunshine Technical School considered itself to be a branch of the Working Men’s College (today’s RMIT) and grew into a significant secondary and post-secondary technical institution between the years 1913 – 1991. The School was one of the first Department of Education controlled Technical Schools in Melbourne. It was well ahead of its time, because working class boys and, from 1920, girls had very early access to a secondary school, making Sunshine Technical School the first Girls Technical School in that secondary school model. Mass secondary schooling would not be a reality for the majority until after the Second World War.

Sunshine Technical School is also a key institution in the history of Victoria, being one of the longest running secondary technical schools in Victoria, running for 107 years.

The Sunshine Technical School has a strong connection to H. V. McKay and his Sunshine Harvester Works. The Sunshine Harvester Works was the largest factory in Australia before BHP and revolutionised wheat harvesting here and around the world, with arguably the first commercially viable combine harvester. Events that happened at the Sunshine Harvester Works led to the historic "Harvester Judgement" minimum living wage case decided by Justice Higgins. A pioneering decision for the benefit of workers and their families in Sunshine at the Sunshine Harvester Works then spreading nationally and across the world. 

McKay was suffering a shortage of tradesmen so he needed somewhere for his apprentices to train. He came up with the idea of building a Technical school and donated the land upon which the school was constructed and a sizable portion of the cost to build it.

McKay was the first School Council President (1912- 1926). He allowed his apprentices paid time to attend their classes, years before the formation of the Victorian Apprenticeship Commission in 1928 (Holloway, 2000). In doing so, technical education was pioneered in Victoria.

The buildings were also designed by renowned Chief Public Works Department Architect, Percy Everett. Percy Everett is best known for the striking Modernist/Art Deco schools, hospitals, court houses, office buildings and technical colleges the Public Works Department produced over 20 years, many of which are listed on the Historical Buildings Register.

The Everett-designed buildings at the school site are intrinsically linked to the local, state and national history, even apart from their architectural merit. But in Sunshine where the dual significance between the built form and Victoria’s industrial and labour history is the most unique, the Department of Education wants to knock them down.

The schools were integral to the success of the McKay’s manufacturing enterprise after which the suburb was eventually named. To allow the Everett -designed pioneering Technical School buildings at 111 and 129 Durham Road, Sunshine, to be demolished would remove forever one of the pillars of the history of Sunshine (Call to Save Heritage Buildings, Trevor Cunningham, Star Weekly, 5/09/21). 

When describing the suburb of Sunshine, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, one of Australia's most significant and popular historians, has said “Of Australia's hundreds of suburbs, Sunshine is one of the most unusual. In the first two decades of the 20th century it was one of the most influential”.

Current Heritage Protection:

The former Sunshine Secondary School sites are within two heritage overlays:

 - HO56 for the Sunshine Technical School at 129 Derby Road Sunshine; and

-  HO57 for the Sunshine Girls Technical School at 111 Derby Road Sunshine, and 

While a heritage overlay is in place for the buildings in the Brimbank Planning Scheme, the Education Department has no need to comply with the Council heritage overlay, so the community is seeking the Honourable Kathy Hall’s support to urgently attempt to influence the decision to let a demolition tender.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!