Aboriginal Protesters dig in against school siting

Matthew Trotman Moreland Leader 5th January, 2011

A protest at Glenroy's Ballerrt Mooroop College shows no sign of ending, with demonstrators vowing to return to the site this week.

And the group has the backing of Moreland Mayor Oscar Yildiz.

Gary Murray, a spokesman for the protesters, said the group was gearing up for a big fight in 2011.

"We will be back on deck ... (5th February) and the protest is going to get bigger," he said.

The group is campaigning against the positioning of a new specialist school next to the college for disengaged Aboriginal teenagers.

They say the new $18 million Glenroy Specialist School, for children with a disability, needs to be moved or redesigned to protect the college's "meeting place, gathering place and spiritual ground".

Building of the specialist school is expected to begin this week.

The group met Cr Yildiz at the site before Christmas.

He said he understood the protesters' concerns after meeting them and would like to see the specialist school development shifted.

"I can't see any reason why the development can't be moved just a little further over," he said.

"The biggest concern I have is with the amount of car parks planned.

"If we can sit down and reduce the amount of car parks that might help resolve the situation."

Mr Murray said the group had applied for a protection order of the site's "cultural precinct" under Aboriginal heritage laws.

He said the group was open to discussing the matter with the Education Department.

"We are willing to withdraw the protection application if the department is willing to sit down and talk with us," he said.

"The best option is to try and share the site and move the new school westerly."

The Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (BLAECG) and Traditional Owners have called on the community and supporters to rally for the school and to register their protest at what is becoming an inequitable funding and space arrangement.

... Wurundjeri Elder Margaret Gardiner said that "the Ballerrt Mooroop College has been on the site since 1996 and the College Council has not consented to the development of a new $18m school on the same land for the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS). The DEECD has denied the community due process in this whole affair and the Minister is receiving poor Aboriginal education advice to the detriment of our students and community. The DEECD intent is to assimilate our school into some mainstream melting pot that will not lead to real improvement in our students educational aspirations. The Premier and Prime Minister are not investing in our School as they are in others Ms Gardiner stated.

Builders are moving in to destroy the BMC's gymnasium to make way for 170 bus and car parking spaces. Parking space seems to be more important than the health and fitness of Indigenous students. This is not the way to educationally and culturally engage the Aboriginal community in closing the gap or Aboriginal education strategies aimed at providing our students with quality education services she said. The government has failed to deliver funding equity and progress in the development of the BMC's student numbers, facilities or aspirations."

A spokesperson for the BLAECG Mr Gary Murray said that; "we call on the government educational bureaucrats to redesign the Glenroy Specialist School plan. Alternatively, the GSS development should be relocated to the soon to be vacated Glenroy primary school site. Mr Murray said that the College needs to be developed to its fullest educational and cultural potential as it is the only Aboriginal school in Melbourne. We seem to be getting squeezed out by bureaucratic stealth and irrelevant registration from our culturally and historically significant school site, amazingly in the Premier's own electoral area, regeneration has now become denigration and another Northland's battle is looming Mr Murray said."

Our community is fed up with the arrogance, bullying, disrespect, discrimination and lack of real equity in the departmental processes to impose another school on our site when there are other school sites at Glenroy primary school for the GSS project. Our College is getting squeezed out, our main community hall and school gym is being demolished to make way for GSS bus and car parks. There will be around 16-22 bus parking spaces. The community also loses the Park as well for car parking and buildings. The fauna are impacted on as trees will be cut down. The peaceful environment changed to everyone's detriment. It is time the whole Community took action.

The GSS project has $18m in grants to develop, the BMC school has a paltry $750,000 to grow the school which is poor economic modeling and peanuts at a stampeding educational elephant.

WHY IS GSS IMPOSED ON OUR SITE WHEN THE GLENROY PRIMARY SCHOOL IS AVAILABLE OR OTHER SITES? THERE IS NO FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT HERE OR EQUITY!

Mr Murray said that the BMC is the only Aboriginal School in greater Melbourne, so why is it being treated different to other school projects around the Premier's electorate! This school should be allowed to grow and expand in terms of students and facilities, it should be an educational and cultural showpiece with state of the art education facilities and programs. What is going on here!

Authorised by:
Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Spokesperson Gary Murray and
Wurundjeri Elder Margaret Gardiner Mobile 0415 683 202

Newspaper Cutting - Moreland Leader

Comments

The Ballerrt Mooroop College will be a hot issue in 2011.

Message from BMC Facebook:
BALLERRT MOOROOP COLLEGE STRONG SPIRIT NETWORK 'Facebook'

Space and cultural heritage issues from 2010 are not resolved. Legal proceedings are being expanded into heritage and human rights.

The building of the new $22m state of the art Glenroy Specialist School will proceed once the new State Government gets its head around the issues.

The crunch issue is move the GSS development to another vacant site (and there are plenty of Brumby closed schools in Hume and Moreland) or vary the current GSS Master Site Plan further west so that it does not interfere with our College or desecrate our cultural heritage, simple stuff.

On a positive note, workshops will be held to finally discuss a master Site Plan for BMC, the Vision needs to be developed and implemented. We too want a state of the art school providing first class educational and cultural programs to a minumum of 200 students.

Back the BMC School Council, staff and students.

Gary Murray

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