Shadow Minister for Education Tim Smith and Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath have toured the Latrobe Special Developmental School in Traralgon, with Mr Smith appalled at the outdated school facilities and Ms Bath providing an update on the petition calling for funding to upgrade the school to be part of the 2018/19 state budget.
The Latrobe Special Developmental School caters for moderately to severely intellectually disabled children. They range between the ages of five and 18 years old.
In his first visit to the school since recently being appointed shadow minister, Mr Smith met with representatives of the school council and backed Ms Bath’s assessment of the facilities.
“I am shocked by the standard of the infrastructure at this school,” Mr Smith said.
“The fact that we have got toilets that are not fit for purpose at a special school is, frankly, ridiculous.”
Mr Smith also highlighted the presence of asbestos at the 1958 facility, with warning signs visible on buildings.
“The Andrews Labor Government promised that asbestos would be removed from all schools,” Mr Smith added. “That is a lie.”
Ms Bath, who is also Shadow Assistant Minister for Education, brought the school’s condition to the attention of parliament earlier in the year, and is collecting a petition calling on the Andrews Labor Government to provide funding for the school in the 2018/19 state budget.
“What the school council is now hearing is that this school is at the end of the next five year review cycle. That means it could be 2022 before major upgrading of this school is even considered,” Ms Bath said.
“This school doesn’t require maintenance. It requires a major overhaul.”
“Notwithstanding the terribly out-dated facilities, I am still so impressed by this school community – the teachers, students and the school council.”
“This school first opened in 1958. How is it right to have a near-60-year-old facility for students with special needs that doesn’t even have proper disability access?”
“Meanwhile in the city, the Andrews Labor Government is focussed on energy efficient lighting for high standard schools,” Ms Bath said, referring to a government announcement two days earlier that a number of schools would be fitted with new solar panels and energy efficient lighting.
“Some schools get all the bells and whistles whilst others don’t even have the basics.”
The school community is hoping to collect more signatures on the petition over the holiday period before Ms Bath presents it to parliament in early 2018.
Copies of petitions can be obtained from the school, at Melina Bath’s electorate office at 181 Franklin Street, Traralgon or from her website: