Mia Davies campaigned against the closure. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Moora college to stay open

Tuesday, 4 September, 2018 - 14:36

After eight months of community protest over its education spending cuts, the state government has reversed its decision to close Moora Residential College following an $8.7 million federal grant.

In a statement released today, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the investment in the facility was part of a commitment to building an accessible education sector in metropolitan and regional communities.

The grant was offered through the federal government’s Community Development Grants program, which aims to support infrastructure to promote stable, secure and viable local and regional economies.

It has been accepted by the state government, and will fund a major refurbishment of the facility.

The Moora Residential College was opened in 1974 to provide isolated students throughout Western Australia access to boarding accommodation, enabling them to attend Central Midlands High School.

Last December, the McGowan government announced that the facility would be closed as part of $64 million of cost saving measures in the education portfolio, with independent reports showing a substantial investment required to keep the facility open.

An additional six camp schools were to be closed statewide.

Funding to remote community resource centres and the WA schools of the air were also cut as part of the package, but the state government retreated on these plans after a community backlash.

Education Minister Sue Ellery had previously confirmed a commitment to shutting down the Moora college, despite a grass roots community campaign for its continued use and concern for the future of over 30 students boarding at the facility.

The Nationals WA leader Mia Davies welcomed the funding as a crucial element in her party’s commitment to rebuilding the college and providing education opportunities in Moora.

“I thank federal Nationals leader Michael McCormack for stepping in to provide certainty for students and families that use Moora Residential College in place of the state government, which has responsibility of the state’s education system,” she said.

“Our Nationals team made a commitment that we would not rest until this heartless decision was reversed and today we have got the outcome we have been fighting for since just before Christmas last year.”

WAFarmers president Tony York praised the federal government for stepping up to save the residential college.

WAFarmers hopes that the McGowan government will now realise the importance of rural education and reverse the education budget cuts to take 20 per cent of the Agricultural Education Farm Provisions Trust each year and pulling funding for six camp school sites across WA,” Mr York said.

Premier Mark McGowan thanked the federal government for the interest in WA and funding support.

“I understand this process has been difficult for the community, staff, parents and students,” Mr McGowan said.

“Our decision to close the boarding facility was an extremely tough decision, but it was made in the context of the dire financial situation we inherited.

“Together with the community, we now have an opportunity to make an upgraded facility in Moora work in the long-term and ensure the boarding facility is sustainable into the future.”