Koorie school community rallies against discriminatory development

Builders are moving in to destroy the gymnasium of Ballerrt Mooroop College, the only aboriginal school in Melbourne. The school is located in Hilton Street Glenroy and the school is being moved into two demountable clasrooms and the gymnasium slated for demolition on December 17 to create 170 car parking spaces for an $18 million development of Glenroy Special School.
Campaign details at Treaty Republic Website
15th Dec Bourke St Mall Solidarity Rally
Picket on December 17th to stop demolition

The school community and aboriginal community and supporters have rallied with a community protest on Monday 22 November attracting over 100 people. The protest turned into a Community sit-In at the Ballert Mooroop College with strategies to establish a Tent Embassy on parkland.

A further protest was held on Wednesday 24 November, outside John Brumby's electoral office at 145A Wheatsheaf Rd, Glenroy. One report of the protest said "The gathering heard from some lively speakers and some live music....it made waves in Glenroy which does not see many community protests. The community then returned to the school gymnasium which is is a sit-in occupied 24 hours by them to prevent demolition."

Ballerrt Mooroop College is a Koorie "pathways" school currently with about 20 students, dedicated to assisting disengaged Koorie 12 to 16-year-olds in receiving an education or preparing for employment.

"The Glenroy School and Residents have been ignored by the Council and the State. We will be networking right across the state, the local Glenroy community and interest groups to ensure educational justice for our children" said Wurundjeri Elder Margaret Gardiner. "The DEECD has denied the community due process in this whole affair and the Minister is receiving poor Aboriginal education advice to the detriment of our students and community. The DEECD intent is to assimilate our school into some mainstream melting pot that will not lead to real improvement in our students educational aspirations. The Premier and Prime Minister are not investing in our School as they are in others" Ms Gardiner stated.

The Ballerrt Mooroop College has been on the site since 1996. The College Council has not consented to the development of the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) on the site. "The GSS project has $18m in grants to develop, the BMC school has a paltry $750,000 to grow the school which is poor economic modeling and peanuts at a stampeding educational elephant." said Gary Murray.

"The Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (BLAECG) has called on the community to keep rallying for the school and to register their protest at what is becoming an inequitable and discriminatory funding and space arrangement. The issue of loss of parkland for Glenroy residents is also coming to the fore along with major headaches relating to transport planning. Design and building contracts have been signed off whilst the Education Department has been falsely negotiating with the School to resolve the issues, we have been betrayed by bureaucratic ineptness" said Broadmeadows Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Spokesperson Gary Murray.

Gary Murray called on the government educational bureaucrats to redesign the GSS plan explaining that there were other options such as the GSS development could be relocated to the now to be vacated Glenroy primary school site or the State could buy the existing GSS site from Yooralla and develop GSS there.

"Our College needs to be developed to its fullest Indigenous educational and cultural potential as it is the only Aboriginal school in Melbourne. We were promised a Master Plan in June 2009 and it did not happen, yet GSS does have a master plan-why the difference?" said Gary Murray. "We seem to be getting squeezed out by stealth from our culturally and historically significant school site in the Premier's own electoral area. The department's incompetence is to be condemned as it now may have destroyed any future relationship between the two schools that may have been developed under a more equitable and non-discriminatory arrangement on the site. The days of funding an $18m GSS school and building a fence between it and the lesser funded BMC school is a disgrace in 2010, this could only happen in pro-apartheid South Africa" he said.

Mr Murray demanded that educational bureaucrats do more than pay lip service to aboriginal education needs. "It is time the education officials not only listened and heard what we are saying but also did what we are proposing. We want proper master planning for the precinct, better and improved facilities, a review of the BMC registration to raise the number of students and a state of the art multipurpose School. Its that simple and already happens in white schools. "

Sources and other reports: