Landsdale Farm School community to take funding cuts fight to Parliament

Lead petitioner and former Wanneroo councillor Maureen Grierson and North Metropolitan MLC Tjorn Sibma at Landsdale Farm School.
Lead petitioner and former Wanneroo councillor Maureen Grierson and North Metropolitan MLC Tjorn Sibma at Landsdale Farm School.

COMMUNITY members angered by the State Government’s move to stop funding the Landsdale Farm School will take their fight to Parliament next week.

North Metropolitan MLC Tjorn Sibma will submit a petition with more than 5000 signatures on behalf of the community, demanding the Government reverse its decision.

Mr Sibma said the Government’s decision meant the future of the Landsdale Road facility and its Department of Education employees was uncertain.

He estimated that the funding cut would be about $650,000 a year, which would equate to the salaries of about 10 staff members.

“They’re looking to save shy of $1.5 million over two years, the Government is not going to miss that,” Mr Sibma said.

Announced by the Department of Education in December, the funding cut was part of a plan to stop spending $64 million on facilities including residential colleges in Moora and Northam, and Tuart and Canning colleges.

The Government back flipped on several budget decisions in January, including the closure of the Northam Residential College, reinstating $23 million worth of education funding.

Petition signatories with North Metropolitan MLC Tjorn Sibma at Landsdale Farm School.

In a hope that the Government would recommit its funding, lead petitioner Maureen Grierson said without department support the farm school would not function as successfully as it had done for 30 years.

The Department of Education last month opened registrations of interest to organisations and businesses willing to take over management of the farm school.

Expressions of interest in the 4ha-site closed on Friday, but a Department of Education spokesman said it was too early to know what organisations would be considered.

Mrs Grierson said the farm school was a community asset that provided unique education experiences, particularly to children with disabilities who needed support from educators, not an organisation or service provider.

Family Support WA, Friends of Yellagonga, Haystack Cafe, Northern District Herb Society, and Wildflower Society currently hold licences to run activities at the farm school.

Minister for Education Sue Ellery said from the end of 2018, the farm school will  close with the intention of finding an alternate provider for this community resources.

“The priority is for the site to remain as a community resource, with access for students with disability being part of any new arrangement,” she said.

“The process for selecting a provider who will continue the Landsdale Farm’s services, including for students with disability, is ongoing.

“All permanent staff will be supported to secure positions within the Department of Education. All fixed-term contracts will be honoured.”

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