Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (19:07): (669) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Education. What should have been, at the start of a school year, a happy time for parents and students of Toongabbie and Tyers actually became an incredibly stressful period for them when a new Department of Education-revamped school bus program failed them dismally. The action I seek is for the minister to reassess this school bus program, have a look at it and overhaul it to make sure it includes local mapping systems and undergoes rigorous testing to ensure that school students are properly allocated a seat on their normal bus route.
As I said, at the end of last year there was a new system put in place by the student transport unit in the education department. Approximately 30 families were impacted; 30 students around Toongabbie and Tyers were left without a seat on their bus. Now, these students were not necessarily new students, they were returning students, so in the past the whole system had been working. When distressed parents contacted the education department they were told –and I understand many of them have certainly contacted me by email through to my office, and also Danny O’Brien and indeed Martin Cameron – that it is the family’s responsibility to get their child to school and they could think about booking a taxi.
This is clearly an administrative bungle by a new operation that is centred in central Melbourne and does not have any localised context. I will give you an example: students living in the towns of Moe, Churchill and Morwell were allocated seats on the Toongabbie bus. If you know Latrobe Valley, you will know that that is directly separate and in the opposite direction to the Toongabbie bus. It is just a source of frustration that our local parents do not need. I also understand that the local bus coordinators are now manually allocating the students to the correct bus network. What should have been a seamless operation has turned into a headache for parents and the local schools and school bus coordinators. So the action I seek from the minister is to ensure that this school bus program is overhauled to include a mapping system that is tested to stand up to the actual realities of where people, their towns and the schools that they are going to, are.