Ballerrt Mooroop College update - Protest Continues

Demolition of School Halted

Ballerrt Mooroop College

Tessa Hoffman Moreland Leader 17th December 2010

Protesters have vowed to continue occupying Glenroy's Ballerrt Murrup College over the Christmas period in preparation to fend off construction workers in the New Year.

The protest began on November 22 when work was scheduled to begin on a new $18 million specialist school next to the college, which caters for 20 disengaged Aboriginal teenagers.

The group of mostly Aboriginal protesters is demanding changes to what they claim are inequitable land-share and funding plans.

Protest spokesman Gary Murray said at least 20 people would continue camping in the school gymnasium slated for demolition to make way for specialist school car parking.

Demolition was scheduled for today (Friday) but cancelled last minute.

Education Department spokesman Peter Enright said a new date had not been set.

Mr Murray expects it to take place from January 4.

More than 100 people protested at the school today, which followed a protest of a similar size in Bourke St mall in Melbourne's central business district on Wednesday.

Mr Murray said the Education Department's move to finally agree to develop a master plan for the college was "a step in the right direction'‘.

Protesters now want the Education Department to agree to protect the school's "cultural precint" which comprises the gym, a sacred tree and adjacent ceremonial grounds currently on the Glenroy Specialist School's part of the site.

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

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