Make Gus and other students safe at South Melbourne Park Primary School
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South Melbourne Park Primary School is a new primary school due to open in January 2019. The school is located in the Albert Park Lake precinct and borders MSAC, Albert Road and Aughtie Drive. Albert Park Lake is a few hundred metres away from the school with a road, car park and public playground in between. At the front of the school is a tram line and 4 lane road.
This area is busy, MSAC reports that they have about 2.2 million visitors a year, Albert Park about 6 million. That's a lot of people, cars and activity in the area.
The new school does not have funding for a complete boundary fence. Instead students will be able to wander from the school grounds into the adjourning park land, which is bordered by roads and the lake. This also means that adults in the precinct could wander into the school grounds.
This is a huge concern for our family as our son Gus who will commence in grade prep has Autism and often wanders, being drawn to water, trams and noise. He is at serious risk of drowning, being hit by a car or tram, or wandering off with an unknown adult. We believe that this risk also extends to typically developing kids who are not on the Autism spectrum.
We have written to the Minister for Education James Merlino and made him aware of Gus' needs and asked that he ensure that funding is provided for a complete boundary fence so that Gus and the other 60 or so prep students will be safe at school and less able to leave the school grounds.
Mr Merlino has replied to say that Gus and his peers will be safe as staff will supervise their play. We believe that this is a ridiculous suggestion and that the small number of staff will not be able to monitor all of the children and ensure that they do no leave the school grounds. Further if Gus' aide is required to monitor him in the playground that will take away from the 17 support hours he receives each week, which should be used to support him in the classroom, not in the playground.
The students are owed a duty of care, the risks in this high traffic area are plainly foreseeable. The parents and friends of students at this school want a complete boundary fence to ensure that an extra element of protection is afforded to the students, which is the case in almost every other school.
We need Mr Merlino to protect Gus and the other students by providing the funding for a complete boundary fence so that this school can open in January 2019 and the risks to students is minimised.
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