Wellington Shire Council has joined Councils across Victoria to call for an urgent state government review of the school crossings system, as a new survey finds that 97 per cent of councils have unsupervised crossings, potentially putting school children at risk.
The survey of 40 councils, including Wellington Shire Council revealed that the state school crossing system is under pressure with:
“Young people are some of our most vulnerable road users and it’s important that we have the best school crossing supervisor program possible to ensure all school children are safe and continue to learn about road safety when travelling to and from school”, Wellington Shire Council Mayor Cr Ian Bye said.
Wellington Shire Council has 21 supervised and eight unsupervised school crossings. Crossing supervisors are responsible for the safety of children in busy areas as they move to and from school.
Council currently employs 23 part-time and 10 casual relieving school crossing supervisors, but the system is under continued pressure to keep school crossings staffed.
The school crossing system is state government funded, but lack of support from the Victorian Government means that Council and ratepayers are left to pick up the bill for the local school crossing program.
The school crossings system campaign is calling on the Victorian government to undertake an urgent review into the program and consider an improved model for the future. One that looks not only at funding of the program, but also the recruitment and retention of supervisors, safety improvements, use of technology at crossings and the effectiveness of the built environment.
Cr Bye said there were a lot of hidden costs for Council, which is being squeezed by rate capping and inflation – including outgoings for uniforms, medical checks, working-with-children checks, training, program coordination and administration.
“In Wellington Shire we need a minimum number of crossing supervisors to have a reliable program. Too often we do not have enough supervisors and other municipal staff must leave other duties to support safe school crossings.”
“This is why we are calling on the State Government to fulfil its responsibilities to Victorian school children. This includes:
We are one of several regional councils to support this campaign and without a large ratepayer base, we are finding it difficult to maintain the required standards,” Cr Bye said.
“Only a thorough government review will properly identify all the issues and, where necessary, provide the practical on-the-ground 21st century solutions the system needs.”
“The State Government previously made a commitment to the community in 2016 to undertake a broad strategic review into the movement and safety of school students. Now is the time for that review to finally happen,” Cr Bye said.