Peter Khalil: A number of years ago, Moreland City Council purchased the former Glenroy Primary School site on Wheatsheaf Road in my electorate of Wills. While preliminary plans had commenced for a project known as the Glenroy Community Hub, there had been no funding for it to actually commence. In the recent federal campaign, I made an important announcement that the Labor Party, if it formed government, would commit to provide $6 million of funding to enable the project to proceed.
The Glenroy Community Hub would include an integrated children’s centre, including: maternal and child health services, a kindergarten and a childcare centre, a modern library to replace the current Glenroy library, facilities for the operation of Merri Community Health Services, and a Glenroy Neighbourhood House. A significant part of the site would be retained as public open space.
This project is critically important for Glenroy for a number of reasons. The Australian Early Development Census provides an index of several key indicators, which serve to illustrate the learning and development needs of our most important resource: our children. The five domains charted by the AEDC are physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills. On these metrics, vulnerable and disadvantaged children can be identified so as to enable the most effective path to improvements via policymaking and through the allocation of funding.
In the suburb of Glenroy, 34 per cent of children are considered highly vulnerable on at least one index measure. The Victorian average is only 20 per cent. It is cause for alarm, but we must examine the circumstances under which this has been allowed to occur. Early years facilities in and close to the suburb of Glenroy are currently at or close to capacity. This is in the context of birthrates in the area being close to double that of current mean projections. This factor alone makes it apparent that the area has an immediate need for quality children’s services.
During the federal campaign, as I mentioned, I, alongside my Labor colleagues, fought very hard to obtain the funding necessary to deliver the additional services that we so sorely need in the Glenroy community. These statistical alarm bells alone should dictate that this funding is justified and necessary. Labor is the party of education and science, and this is yet another illustrative example of our bona fide commitment to this cause. I fought for Glenroy in the campaign, and the reason I stand here today is to continue that fight in opposition. I cannot stand idly by. The poor education outcomes in Glenroy are something which simply cannot be ignored.