House of Assembly: Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Melaleuca Park Primary School

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:28): Earlier today, I proposed a motion regarding school maintenance. To prepare for this, I toured local public schools and engaged in discussions with principals and student leaders to understand the unique challenges each school faces. Throughout this process, one school particularly impressed me with its presentation: Melaleuca Park Primary School. When I arrived at Melaleuca, I was greeted by the year 6 student leaders: Evelyn, Lacey, Taylor and Jackson, with Brax doing the photography. We sat down to discuss what the students had been working on before completing a tour of the school. They explained to me that during a recent school camp to Adelaide they had the opportunity to visit Westbourne Park Primary School and tour their facilities and hear about the learner agency program that Westbourne Park students were undertaking.

The learner agency is a topic where students are empowered to develop a sense of identity and responsibility as they participate in their school community and are supported to play a role in shaping their learning experiences. What stood out to the students were the school's toilets, believe it or not. As one of the students said, and I quote: 'Their toilets were outstanding, they had nice, private and clean toilets that look nothing like ours.'

Upon their return to school, the student leaders were inspired to make a difference by advocating for improved toilet facilities. During their lunch breaks they diligently surveyed fellow students to gather input. The feedback highlighted the necessity for amenities such as hot water, new hand driers, better taps, private cubicles, locks on doors and improved cleanliness. Things that I think everybody would take for granted.

Using this information, the student leaders included all of the year 5/6 class to collate the information and write letters to those who might be able to help. They included the school principal, Erica Hurley, the school governing council, the education director, Mr Adam Box, the Minister for Education and, of course, myself. I was presented with letters during my visit after the students took me for a tour highlighting their facilities. Lacey spoke about the size of the toilets and how that affected the students, and I quote:

Firstly, they are not at all convenient for students that are smaller…like reception [students]. They can't reach the toilet flush button and can't wash their hands because they are too small to reach. The sinks are too high and the same with the toilets, they are too big.

Also, there is no room for two teachers to come and help if a student needed it and the department of education says that there should be room for two adults so they can help if needed.

Brax stated that there was no hot water or soap available in the toilets so the students were unable to wash their hands properly, which could lead them to become sick from the germs. Lacey highlighted the condition of the toilets and the lack of privacy, and I quote:

The toilets are really gross and mouldy. All of the toilets have lots of mould on the walls, on the floor, roof and doors.

There is nearly no privacy in the toilets. Some of the doors don't lock and some don't even have a lock! Other students can just open the door when people are doing their business. Also, students climb on the ledges and sit behind the toilet. It does not allow students to have privacy while using the toilets. The toilets need fixing now, they are revolting, not private and unsafe and the children deserve better!

Yesterday, I met with Ben Temperly, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Department for Education and presented him with the students' letters and photos. He has assured me the department will be looking into the issues the students have raised. I also met with the minister, Blair Boyer, and discussed this issue with him.

I would like to thank Evelyn, Lacey, Taylor, Jackson and Brax and all of the Melaleuca Park Primary School students for bringing these issues to my attention. I congratulate them on the work they are doing to advocate for better school services for their school.