By TONY FOSTER*
IN this issue of Brighton Community News (full story on this website) Brighton Council has clearly set out its vision for the future of education in the municipality, with a focus on the Jordan River Learning Federation, the School farm and the promised new high school in Brighton.
Council has long considered that providing enhanced educational opportunities is vital for the growth of our municipality and the surrounding region. The Jordan River Learning Federation is doing a great job and despite its site limitations, the School farm has served our community well. But its growth and development, as well as its capacity to provide the job-orientated education outcomes for students is compromised by its current site and location in the Brighton town centre.
This limitation will be compounded by the predicted growth in Brighton’s population. In fact, it already is, with regular issues arising as a result of the school farm’s proximity to neighbours, as well as environmental and public health considerations.
State Treasury’s most recent report on Tasmania’s population growth shows that Brighton is the State’s fastest growing municipality and is predicted to be home to some to more than 24,000 people in 2042. That will make us bigger than Burnie and about the same size as Devonport today.
This growth clearly emphasises that the Brighton Municipality, with its more affordable land, cost-effective local government services, proximity to Hobart and growing economic activity, is an attractive place to establish a home and grow a family.
But we must ensure that we have the services and facilities to cater for this population growth and that is why we have fought so hard for the new high school to be established in Brighton, as well as for the provision of better health and community facilities, and improved public transport services.
Undoubtedly, education is the key and we have one opportunity to get it right. The time to do that is now.
Council has consulted with our community and particularly with school parents and friends. We have sought expert advice from experienced planners and our officers have worked extremely hard to develop Council’s vision for the future of education in Brighton.
In simple terms, all the advice, Council’s work and indeed common sense, points to the new Brighton high school being developed on the current school farm and the Farm being moved to a superior site on the Brighton outskirts and still close to the town centre, where it can expand and provide improved education and vocational opportunities for students.
Such a move will enable the school farm to expand both its footprint and its educational offerings on a more appropriate site and develop meaningful partnerships with the local rural community to provide employment-ready animal husbandry and horticultural studies for our young people.
It does not take a genius to understand that it is not appropriate to site a farm in the centre of a town, particularly a town that is anticipating strong population growth and where suitable, superior and available farmland is available nearby. In such circumstances, it would be foolish in the extreme to force the high school out of town, or for the Government not to honour its commitment to develop it in Brighton.
The overwhelming case for developing the new high school on the farm site and relocating the School farm is outlined in Council’s vision. The reality is that there is no other suitable site available in the Brighton township.
We are not interested in simply satisfying noisy minority interests or in political expediency. We want to secure an outcome that will best serve the Brighton community and our municipality for decades to come. That is what our vision dictates.
Council is determined to now work with the State Government and the Education Department to deliver the right outcome for our community.
*Tony Foster AM OAM JP is Mayor of Brighton