Challenge leads to unique solution

BRIGHTON Mayor Tony Foster says assuring the future of the Jordan River Learning Federation’s school farm and the agreement of the Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff to look at the overall education needs of the Brighton Municipality is a great outcome for the community.

Brighton is among the fastest growing regions of the State, with perhaps the youngest demographic profile and Mayor Foster said while the future of the farm school was extremely important, so too were the broader education needs of the local community.

“We had been seeking to meet with Minister Rockliff since the middle of May to discuss our education needs and while the school farm issue did cause some initial concerns, it brought forward our meeting and enabled us to address some major issues, Mayor Foster said.

“I was particularly impressed with the Minister’s willingness to work with us, firstly to secure the future of the school farm and then to look at the wider education requirements of our community.

“While there may have been some initial community confusion regarding the original notification to the Education Department to remove the animals from the school farm, Brighton Council’s support for the farm was never in question. We understand that it provides valuable social outcomes and we want the farm to provide even better educational outcomes in the future.”

Mayor Foster said he was confident that this could now occur with the Education Minister taking a personal interest and his Department assuming full responsibility for the farm’s operations.

“At the meeting, I suggested to the Minister that we rezone the site and undertook to take my idea to Council. While Councillors were unaware of my proposal at the time, they subsequently provided their endorsement and we were able to move forward.

“This was a significant outcome, but equally important was the Minister agreeing to work with us to ensure that the children of the Brighton Municipality have the best possible access to education opportunities,” he said.

“For example, today, some eight buses a day as well as countless private vehicles, take children to and from Brighton to high schools and colleges outside the municipality.

“This and Brighton’s continually growing school population clearly demonstrates that a high school at Brighton is needed and would be viable from a student population perspective.

“Now that we have secured the future of the school farm, this is an initiative that I will be pursuing with the Minister.”

Mayor Foster said providing our children with the best possible education must be the top priority for our community.

“If we are ever going to resolve important social issues such as unemployment, family breakdown, substance abuse, anti-social behaviour and the like, the provision of improved educational opportunities is a key.

“With Council and the Minister for Education working together, we have the opportunity to make a real difference in Brighton,” he said.