The dispossession and disempowerment continues


Top: Proposed GSS site - View from Trevannion St.

Bottom: Arial View of site - Between the dotted lines designates GSS proposed dispossession
See: Google Maps

Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC) agreed to share the land adjacent to the school with the Glenroy community some years ago. Since then the local children have been able to play on this land and other community members have been using the space to walk their dogs and other recreational activities.

However, around 2007 the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) started quietly colluding with the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) to not only take the Glenroy communities green area away but to pilfer 30 metres from the Ballerrt Marroop Indigenous College to build a new school.

With the closing of other schools in the region over recent years there is plenty of choices for the specialist school to be located on another site, but this particular land has been chosen. It has its good points as its close to shops and Sydney road and under the management of Indigenous people, who have nurtured the landscape, have made the area very desirable. The college is surrounded by lovely trees and is a breath of fresh air in a suburb that you would not call 'leafy' in any ones imagination.

The thirty metres the GSS's plan has targeted comprises of an active cultural area, a sacred tree and a gymnasium that is also used as a meeting room and general recreation activities by all ages, but especially the college children and their extended families.

The cultural area is regularly used for traditional ceremonies, the traditional dancing group and also as a quiet area for the elders and other community members to just sit.


Brown & Green: GSS plan of new school
Green: GSS plan encroaching BMC
Blue: GSS plan for BMC (Not BMC's Plan)
(Not to scale)

Gary Murray, who leads the BMC protest, said on Melbourne's 3CR community radio that the issue could be resolved if the Specialist School and the Indigenous college sat down together to discuss the situation. But there has been no approaches to BMC by GSS and it appears that the specialist school sees nothing unforeseen about stealing this Indigenous school land so they can use it for car parking spaces and the placement of a sewerage pipe to their new school. Ballerrt Mooroop College didn't even know anything about the proposed plan for building of a specialist school next door to them for at least two years into the DEECD/GSS planning processes.

Aboriginal Affairs Victoria
When questioned regarding the 'Land Grab' and 'Demolition of the Gymnasium' at Ballertt Mooroop College, it has been reported that the Director of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (AAV),the Government's key agency for advice on Aboriginal affairs, Ian Hamm recently said, '... the hall is riddled with asbestos (a) and must come down ... the Ballerrt Mooroop College was offered a brand new school (b) in Broadmeadows ... all four Koorie schools in Victoria are not producing adequate educational results(c), so they will be closed down ...'


GSS Plan: Artist Impression
See: GSS Artist Impression (pdf)

(a)
This is just a racist smokescreen as there is asbestos in the majority of state schools and in all Government built pre-90's Aboriginal and mainstream housing in Victoria, so it is the Governments duty to fix this issue by replacing the asbestos or building a new gymnasium.

(b)
The Government did offer BMC with 'portable' buildings at Broadmeadows but the college has nurtured the landscape around the school and the sacred site to make it a relaxing and peaceful space, and together with the important cultural area at the Glenroy location, there would be an overwhelming loss of identity for the Wurundjeri people and the broader Aboriginal community.


Ballerrt Mooroop College - Cultural Area

(c)
The Victorian Auditor-General Des Pearson officially criticised DEECD's strategy to improve indigenous education. In a report tabled in state parliament in June 2011, Mr Pearson said that it's unclear whether their monitoring program is effective because the department is yet to develop a process for evaluating students progress.

It is believed that Ian Hamm has never been to the school or talked to anyone at the school. His comments are riddled with colonial racism in a desperate attempt to further undermine the Victorian Indigenous people. His comments are far from consistent with AAV's key charter, which is to promote knowledge and understanding relating to Victoria's Aboriginal people within the wider community, and also administer legislation that 'protects Aboriginal cultural heritage'.


Top: BMC Master Plan for school site
See: BMC Site Plan (pdf)

Bottom: GSS Master Plan for school site
See: GSS Site Plan (pdf)

Ballerrt Mooroop College Plans
The Wurundjeri people and the broader Indigenous community in Melbourne's northern suburbs also have future development plans for the existing school site. These plans include facilities and spaces for arts, personal development, technology, culture, sporting and recreational activities .. Things that most non Indigenous schools take for granted.

These plans have not overwhelmingly encroached on the adjacent land that is desired by the Glenroy Specialist School, although for the future wellbeing and development of Indigenous people in the greater Melbourne region it would be desirable to keep these important open spaces to share with the general Glenroy community.

Both past and present students have endorsed BMC as an important start to their lives. A real way for the Government to meet their key charters would be to support this school, not to undermine it, but to help the management and staff meet the needs of young Indigenous community members to have a successful future and support their spiritual culture of choice.

Conclusion
The proposed plan for GSS not only takes away 30 metres of an important Indigenous school facility and cultually significant area but leaves BMC jammed up against a fence overlooking a car park.

Yes, we are talking about proposed school parking bays and a sewerage pipe to replace an important cultural area and another school's gymnasium. The position of the Government and the specialist school demonstrates unbelievable contempt and the plan to take away this very important area is just blatant dispossession ... again.