Have The WA Government Made Another Rushed Decision?

On Sunday I posted a letter to the WA Government- the response I got was incredible. Over four thousand people read tat letter, it was shared countless times, people were messaging me to thank me, I had people messaging to let me know they had sent it to members of the government. I am so happy that something I had to say, something that is so important to me reached so many people around WA mostly.
Welcome to Moora Residential College
Image from: mooraboarding.com.au

On Thursday Premier Mark McGowan and Minister Sue Ellery admitted that they had taken the budget cuts too far and announced a reversal. HOWEVER, only some on the cost cutting measures would be reversed. Perhaps the most controversial cut that was made in the first place- the suspension of the School of the Air in Western Australia would be reversed. There would no longer be funding cuts to gifted and talented programs, level three intake of classroom teachers would not be frozen and Northam Residential Collage would no longer be closed down. It was a good start, but it isn't enough.

While the reversal saw some good news, the other areas not affected by the reversal are still in jeopardy. Moora Residential Collage is still being closed, Ag School money is still being poached, six camp schools around WA are still going to be shut down and the boarding away from home allowance is still sitting at a low level. How is this acceptable? How is it acceptable for the government to take away the money destined for the education of the future of rural WA? To take the money out of the farming communities and put it into the metropolitan area? Tell me something Ministers, are you in this for the city or are you in this for WA as a whole?

In retaliation education support and service staff are threatening a strike on the first day back at school, CWA of WA are planning a friendly rally outside of Parliament House and petitions are doing the rounds. In this post I want to focus on one cut in particular, I want to talk about the closure of Moora Residential Collage, I want to talk about the affect its going to have on the WHOLE town, I want to talk about why Northam was chosen to stay open over Moora. I have questions, questions that only the government can truly answer. So I pose this to you now. If you read my last post and sent it forward, if you agree with what I am saying, if you want to see regional education taken seriously, please share this post, share it with your friends and family, share it with your local government, send it to the public email addresses of the WA Government. We need to keep pushing back, it is people power that got us to the first reversal and it is people power that will keep getting us forward.

At Wongan Hills DHS when you got to year ten you get given the opportunity to be placed in work experience for a week. Many people choose the close to home options- the pre-primary, the hairdressers, the local child care. I was given the opportunity to work with the Central Midlands Advocate in Moore for a week. Obviously being only sixteen I wasn't going to be able to drive the hour long journey every morning and every night and I knew next to no one in the town. Thanks to the help of my teachers I was given the opportunity to board at St James Residential Collage for the week that I was there. The week I was there was the same week as Senior High School Country Week, so I didn't get to meet many people, but I got to meet a few, many of whom I still stay in contact with via social media. In my week at the residential collage I was made to feel like one of the family. The supervisors make sure you feel right at home, the food cooked in the kitchen rivalled that of a home cooked meal and all in all it was a very easy place to feel at home. As a parent sending your child off to boarding school isn't that what you want to know? Don't you want to know that your rural child is going to be in a setting where they can feel completely at home with people with similar up brings to them? That could be very different should these children now need to be sent to city schools.

Mora isn't a small town, but it isn't a large one either- it's medium sized. Big enough to have three schools, but small enough that everyone knows everyone and their business. Approximate population sits around 2,000 people and its regarded as 'the most substantial wheatbelt town between Geraldton and Perth.' For the coming year Moora Residential Collage has approximately thirty students enrolled, nearly twenty percent of CMSHS total enrolments. You shut down the residential collage and you take away twenty percent of CMSHS enrolments, which could see the school downgraded to a District High School and their year eleven and twelve resources taken away. Then what? Families will start packing up their lives so their senior high school students can complete their final years with their family around them. The percentage of students at the school goes down again. And again when their siblings are un-errolled also.

Closing down the residential collage isn't only bad for CMSHS- its going to be bad for the whole town. The butcher who supplies the meet to the collage, there goes his number one customer. The store that supplies school supplies and uniforms, there goes her number one point of business. The families that work with the residential collage, what are they to do for for work now?

Premier McGowan, you admitted the first announcement of cuts was the government making a rushed decision, I feel you've made a second rushed decision in the hopes of getting the people off your back.

While I was happy to see that Northam Residential Collage would no longer be shut down, I want to question why it was chosen over Moora. Northam is quite a bit closer to the city than Moora- 96 kilometres compared to 177 kilometres. The repairs required to Moora have been stated as the reason for the closure, these repairs were budgeted to begin this year, but in September 2017 were taken away, a mere six months before the renovations were due to begin. Perhaps you could have pulled a mere eight million dollars for the repairs from your $68 million inner city collage in Subiaco. In an area that is already very accessible to other schools including Perth Modern. Moora Residential Collage has been in excess of 70% capacity for the past ten years.

Does the government really understand the strain this is going to put on Moora and its education? The residential collage has eight year eleven students enrolled for 2018. That means when the collage closes at the end of the year, they are about to enter the most important schooling year with an uncertainty as to where they are going to finish their schooling. The end of year eleven is not the time to uproot and change schools.

I want the government to understand and rethink their decision to close Moora Residential Collage. I challenge the WA Government to show the ways they are looking after the rural people of WA, I challenge them to show how they give a damn about rural education in this state. The reversal of previous cuts such as the SOTA was not enough. Now is the time to act.