A SELF confessed “mum on a mission” from Bullsbrook is leading a peaceful protest this weekend at Landsdale Farm School against the State Government’s decision to stop funding the facility.
The Department of Education will cease its funding for the farm school in Darch by the end of the year and is currently assessing expressions of interest from businesses and organisations to lease and operate the site.
Mother-of-three Joanne Matthewson said she remembered going to the education support facility as a Year 1 Balga Primary School student and had visited since as a Disability Services Commission support worker, as well as taking her own children there.
“Cutting its funding is simply unacceptable,” she said.
“The number of former special education and disabled students returning to the farm over its 30 years as adults and volunteers is large, as it provides a safe, familiar, open atmosphere for them.
“Day care to seniors groups visit the farm, but most importantly special education departments use the farm as a legitimate off-site classroom in conjunction with the education department teaching staff, for the most vulnerable and at risk students.”
Mrs Matthewson has created a petition demanding the education funding cuts be reversed that she said would be submitted to Parliament next month after the peaceful protest to demonstrate the importance of the farm school as an external education facility servicing the needs of special education students.
“The June 2 event invites all members of the public to peacefully demonstrate the support for the reversal of funding cuts to Landsdale Farm School but also camp schools, community kindergartens, Herdsman Lake wildlife centre and Moora College,” she said.
“The long term and specifically trained teaching staff will be lost.
“The tender process stipulates that the tender applicants must fulfil the requirements that the farm school currently offers as an education department facility.
“This in itself makes no sense as no private sector investor can provide this like the education department has for 30 plus years.”
The petition has gained widespread support online, including from early years and adolescence specialist Maggie Dent who shared Mrs Matthewson’s post on Facebook.
“All that is needed is a generous philanthropic soul who can step up and provide money that the state government finds too damn hard to do,” Ms Dent posted.
“So sad to see such a valued educational facility disappear.”
For more information on the protest, visit the Facebook page.