MP calls for U turn on crossings call

November 17, 2023 BY

Still waiting: Parents and students continue to wait for news on school crossing supervisors. Photo: FILE

MEMBER for Euroa, Annabelle Cleeland, has called on the State Government to reverse a decision to defund school crossings at Heathcote.

Money for supervisors at the crossings was withdrawn earlier this year, with the City of Greater Bendigo now paying for staffing at the three sites for three days a week until the end of the year.

The officer of Premier and Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, was contacted several times for comment by nothing was received by publication deadline.

Ms Cleeland said that wasn’t good enough.

“It is disappointing to hear of the lack of concern shown by this Labor Government when it comes to the safety of Heathcote’s school children,” she said.

“The Allan Labor Government’s inability to manage money has resulted in cost-shifting to councils that, as a consequence, could seriously impact the safety of our children and families.

“I genuinely hope the Minister for Roads and Road Safety understands the potential heartbreaking consequences of a reckless decision like not funding these school crossings at a time where our roads are so unsafe.”

Ms Cleeland said she believes that the matter could be resolved “by a swipe of the pen by the Minister.”

“Following powerful community advocacy, we have seen the State Government temporarily reinstate school supervisors at neighbouring councils,” she said.

“I have called on the Minister for Roads and Road Safety to do the same in Heathcote as a matter of urgency.”

Retired police officer Grey Loney who has lived in Heathcote for six years has joined calls to reevaluate the decision to defund the crossing supervisors.

“I see the traffic every day. It’s very busy with cars and trucks travelling through and holiday makers who are unfamiliar with the town,” he said.

“Kids need somewhere safe to cross.”

Mr Loney said he believes that supervision is important not only for crossing the road but supervised crossings also provide a safe area for children.

“Kids know that if something they are uncomfortable with happens on the way to school, they have a safe place to go and someone they know with a mobile phone,” he said.

“We should never underestimate the importance of that.”

An assessment of school crossings in Heathcote was undertaken on one day in June by the City of Greater Bendigo officers while both were supervised.

Other information was gained by talking with the crossing supervisors.

“There was only one child that used the crossing near the Holy Rosary Primary School and the other crossing had no children,” said municipal spokesperson Ros Manning.

“The school crossing supervisors have also advised that no other children had used the crossing during the week and that usage was consistently low at all other times.”

With Holy Rosary School part of the municipally initiated Safe Routes to School program that introduces kids to walk and ride to school, principal Paul Dullard called for recount of the crossings’ usage during the warmer months.

“We were hoping more children would participate in the future,” he said. “We need our crossings to help with this.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s one child or 100, they need to be safe.”