Family Support WA announced as operator for Landsdale Farm School

 Jo Matthewson and baby Florence with Holly Clark and daughter Abigail (in green pants) , Queenie Matthewson (in pink pants) and Charlie Pickering. Picture: Bruce Hunt
Jo Matthewson and baby Florence with Holly Clark and daughter Abigail (in green pants) , Queenie Matthewson (in pink pants) and Charlie Pickering. Picture: Bruce Hunt

A STATE Government announcement for Landsdale Farm School’s future operator has been described as “bittersweet” by a parent.

Jo Matthewson, of Bullsbrook, has been protesting against education cuts announced last December, with another protest planned tomorrow.

Ms Matthewson said while Saturday’s announcement that Family Support WA would manage and operate the Darch facility was good, the way it had been handled was not.

The mother-of-three said the Education Department should have talked to the organisation before deciding to cut funding and prevented the uncertainty and stress families and staff have faced in the past nine months.

“They could have all sat down and worked something out had they consulted and communicated,” she said.

“They could have reached this agreement last year.”

The not-for-profit organisation, founded in 1996 by parents and staff of Landsdale Farm School, will take over running the farm, providing programs for students and people with disabilities, and the general public will continue to have access.

In December 2017, the State Government announced the Education Department would cease funding six camp school sites and Landsdale Farm School facility from 2019, and seek alternative providers.

Fairbridge WA has been selected to operate the six camp schools in Bridgetown, Dampier, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Pemberton and Point Peron.

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said she was pleased Family Support WA would take over the management, given its involvement with the farm for more than two decades.

“Camp school sites and the Landsdale Farm School facility are resources for schools, not schools themselves, and not the core business of the Department of Education,” she said.

“While they are much loved and valued, they are not solely used by schools.

“They are also used extensively by the public, including sporting and community groups, and in the case of the Landsdale facility, a majority of visits were outside school hours.”

Ms Matthewson said there would be a protest outside Parliament House about 11am on September 11 about ongoing issues such as funding cuts to community kindergartens and other schools.