Public housing residents win campaign to enrol at North Melbourne Primary School
Families at North Melbourne’s public housing towers are rejoicing as they can finally gain enrolment access to North Melbourne Primary School.
But while the state government said North Melbourne Primary had “sufficient capacity” for enrolments, it has yet to make changes to the school zone boundaries to include the residents of the towers at 12 Sutton St and 33 Alfred St.
A school zone consists of a designated neighbourhood government school or schools known as a “local school”, which in case of the housing residents was limited to Debney Meadows Primary School.
Parents have the choice to seek enrolment at a school that is not their local school, but if the school has limited spaces available, applications are considered using the “priority order of placement”, which prioritises students “who live within the school zone and out of zone siblings”.
Public housing tower residents began a compelling campaign last year to have the school zone include North Melbourne Primary School as the exclusion not only limited their educational opportunities but also left families sending their children to schools further away.
Parents also said getting to Debney Meadows was an unsafe commute involving crossing busy roads and Citylink on and off ramps.
It’s also not known how many families would secure enrolment at North Melbourne Primary or how long the measure would last until the school reaches capacity.
But in a significant step forward, families at the towers could now apply to enrol their children at North Melbourne Primary School and its newly opened Molesworth St campus, which currently had “sufficient capacity to accept these enrolments”, a Department of Education spokesperson said, but made no mention as to whether this would see changes to the current school zone boundaries.
“Every Victorian student has the right to enrol at their local government school,” the spokesperson said.
“A school zone enables parents to identify their local government school but does not restrict a student’s choice to seek enrolment at other government schools outside their zone.”
Community advocate for the North Melbourne housing estate and parent Awil Hussein said there was now “a choice now for diversity and safety for students living in these towers to enrol at their local North Melbourne primary and high schools”.
This is a great win for public housing residents.
As reported by North West City News last year, Mr Hussein said the zoning for Debney Meadows included the towers in Flemington and two of the towers in North Melbourne, creating a “ghetto”.
The move to include North Melbourne Primary School as an alternative choice has been seen as a step towards breaking barriers and ensuring every child had access to quality education and to be a part of the “mainstream society”.
Among the delighted parents is Alfred St resident Halimo Hussein, who said she was “so happy” to enrol her 11-year-old daughter at North Melbourne Primary School next year. She said the commute, which involves a 13-minute walk to the school, would be a lot easier.
Ms Hussein said her daughter Aaliyah would start Grade 6 next year after attending Ilim College Glenroy campus in Hadfield, which was a 20- to 30-minute drive. She said Ilim College Glenroy, a private school, was their preference over Debney Meadows.
State Greens MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell, who supported the residents’ campaign, said she was pleased the government had changed their decision, making it fair for all families.
“Local parents campaigned to ensure that all North Melbourne residents – whether they live in public or private housing – have access to the same local schooling and ensure public housing residents weren’t cut off from the rest of the community. I was pleased to join them and help get a positive outcome,” she said. •
Caption: Awil Hussein will enrol his daughter Fatima at North Melbourne Primary School next year. Photos: Hanna Komissarova.