Sunday, February 25, 2024

Mildura to vote on school crossing program review

Mildura Rural City Councillors will this week decide whether to join a growing call within the Local Government sector for the Victorian Government to review school crossing supervision in a bid to ensure student safety.

The Municipal Association of Victoria and City of Monash Council are spearheading an advocacy push to review the current School Crossing Supervisor Program to ultimately move the responsibility for safely managing and funding school crossings back to the state government.

They argue the responsibility should sit with the Victorian Government as part of its remit to manage and fund education services in Victoria.

At a meeting on Thursday, Mildura Councillors will consider adding their voice to this advocacy work.

Mildura Mayor, Liam Wood said the overall priority in any decision should be student safety.

“While the responsibility to manage and fund school crossings has gradually shifted to Local Government over the years, this isn’t a core duty, or speciality, of local government,” Mayor Wood said.

“As part of the advocacy work led by the Municipal Association of Victoria and City of Monash, it’s argued the Victorian Government is best equipped to deliver school crossing supervision to make sure students are kept safe.”

The Mayor said that while student safety was the core issue in the discussion, there had also been increased cost-shifting to the Local Government sector.

In a recent report to its Councillors, City of Monash Council indicated Local Government funding for school crossing supervision had increased by more than 50% since 1975, while the proportion of funding from the Victorian Government had almost halved.

“In our case, for the 2021/2022 financial year Council funds and manages, including recruiting and employing supervisors, 26 school crossings across our municipality, in the majority of cases in front of State Government schools, which requires about $480,000 annually,” Mayor Wood said.

“The Victorian Government for this same period covers about $172,800 of this cost. The remainder of the load – more than $300,000 annually – is shouldered by ratepayers.

“There’s a growing concern in the Local Government sector that if the status quo remains, the current high standard of safety at school crossings won’t be achievable in the longer term unless the Victorian Government steps in.

“This isn’t about the Local Government sector withdrawing from this service. It’s about ensuring the highest standard of safety for students, and the most equitable and sustainable way of providing school crossing supervision without unduly impacting on ratepayers.”

City of Monash Council recently wrote to Victorian Councils about the issue, with the majority of respondents indicating they supported the position that school crossing supervision wasn’t the core function of local government.

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