Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4891 Primary School and what happened to that school that I would like to talk about tonight. There is no doubt that the two acts of outrageous and cowardly vandalism really did shake up the school community. Everyone who has an affinity with Bradshaw School was pretty rocked by what happened. The teaching staff, management support and parent council have worked incredibly hard this year to position the school as a great education facility, rich in cultural diversity and sporting ability. As a result of these acts of vandalism, it is now time to rebuild the confidence of people involved in the school. Of course, nothing knocks someones confidence more than something they know and love - be it a person, a school or a community - being the victim of an act of violence or vandalism. Bradshaw really is a great school. No community or facility deserves to be broken into and damaged. Bradshaw has been doing so well. In March this year, Bradshaw held a fantastic Harmony Day celebration to promote and celebrate the diversity of the school and the community, complete with whole school assembly, classroom discussions around diversity, respect and teamwork, and a lunchtime cricket match that was part of Australias Biggest Cricket Match with schools all around Australia playing cricket at the same time. The finale to Harmony Day was the multicultural evening, combining international food tasting and entertainment that was a wonderful event bringing the whole school community together. It showcased great talent. Members will recall that I have spoken about Harmony Day at Bradshaw on a previous occasion in this parliament. Harmony Day was followed by: a highly successful annual sport day attended by students in their house colours; and families, school choir and individual participation in the Eisteddfod; a group of students participating in the Tournament of the Minds competition; a week-long NAIDOC celebration and family barbecue lunch; and, most recently, the school concert where all classes participated and sang songs celebrating Australia. I was unable, very sadly, to make that concert, but I know many people who went. I am assured, but not surprised, that it was a fantastic event with great student and teacher participation, one that openly displayed how wonderfully well the school has been operating, how well the children are learning and growing into our future, and how the children are growing into fine young Territorians. The very last thing on the minds of those at Bradshaw school as they wrapped up another successful term in 2007 was the idea that a group of wayward youth, based on all reports, would inflict such mindless vandalism on the Bradshaw Primary School, and not just once but twice in the space of a few days. The first time, the vandals entered the school and literally smashed it up. The second time, they plastered walls with graffiti and smashed more windows. I was recently advised that a tomahawk was used. It appears as though it was a premeditated act. I am not sure I know of too many people walking around town with a tomahawk. The intent of those who did this damage seriously has to be questioned. As a result of the attacks, the hard-working teaching staff spent some of their mid-term break restoring 11 classrooms that, I am told, looked like a bomb site after these acts of vandalism. Thirty computer screens were smashed, as well as 12 glass doors and windows and eight internal doors. Each and every teachers desk was ransacked. While the school is insured, it does take time, as we know, to restore or replace damaged items. Ultimately, it is the students of Bradshaw Primary School who suffer. Predominately, this is the final year students in Year 6 who suffer the disruption as they transition to middle school. Facing a damage bill, as I understand, of more than $50 000, the community pulled together and, luckily for Bradshaw Primary School, indigenous organisations, businesses, Alice Springs schools and family, came to the rescue. More than 40 computer screens were donated. Members of the community showed up to help clean up the classrooms in time for the start of school last week, and what a magnificent effort it was. Alice Springs is a great community. I have said that before and will say it again. I was not surprised that so many people got together to tidy up the school. What is outrageous is that they had to do it. We wish the police well in their endeavours to try to catch the well, I am not sure that I can find a word for them - but to try to find the offenders who did this. I hope that they are punished appropriately. I met with Ursula Balfour, the Principal of Bradshaw School, last Friday when I got back from the first week of parliament. I also met with Mel Philips. I spoke with them at some length about the damage that was done and they certainly were quite overwhelmed by the community support that they received as a result of these acts of vandalism. It does not come as a surprise to me that people got together to pitch in and help out, first because I know my community well, I think, and because of the high regard that people have for Bradshaw School in my electorate. I know that people are working behind the scenes to look for solutions. The school community is of the view that one act of vandalism means they are unlucky, but two in the space of
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