Recent changes to school zoning in Western Victoria has limited community access to a specialist sports program, says Western District MP James Purcell.
Concerned parents have contacted Mr Purcell regarding access to the Sporting Pathway Program at Warrnambool College. Because of the zoning requirements students must live within the college's zone in order to enrol at the school and participate in the program.
"Warrnambool College offers the only Sporting Pathway Program outside of the major cities in Victoria. It is the only Sporting Pathway Program offered outside of Geelong, Ballarat and Melbourne," said Mr Purcell.
"The program aims to use the passion of sport to engage and expand a student’s learning opportunities. Because of recent changes to zoning in our region this excellent and sought after program is only available to students who live within the Warrnambool College zone.
"It is a valuable and very worthwhile program and one of many initiatives in our region that will help keep our kids at school."
Mr Purcell has raised the low year 12 attainment rates in south west Victoria numerous times in Parliament and has undertaken extensive research into the aspirations of youth within the region in an effort to find solutions to this issue.
"Initiatives such as this Sporting Pathway Program offer students a great incentive to stay in school. These kind of programs are vital to improving our education and it's important that all students be eligible to enrol."
The Sporting Pathway Program is a partnership between the Exercise and Health Science Faculty at Federation University in Ballarat, the school and a range of elite local coaches and qualified fitness instructors.
"I have had a number of families approach me regarding this program and their inability to enrol their kids at Warrnambool College due to zoning.
"The school has also sought direction from the department and asked that the course be considered a priority 3-curriculum course. Unfortunately as it has just finished a pilot study and 2017 will be its first year on offer, it’s not yet accredited," said Mr Purcell.
"I have asked the Minister to review the zoning requirements and investigate how this excellent program can be made available to more students in our area."