A father’s plea for a crossing outside a school to be supervised has resonated with the City of Greater Bendigo.
Deputy Mayor Rod Fyffe, who was the subject of a petition by Quarry Hill Primary School parent Tony Smith, said cost shifting by the state government was a “fundamental blocking point” when it came to providing children’s crossing supervisors.
“It started out as 50:50 funding… these days its 80 per cent local government funding and 20 per cent state government funding,” Cr Fyffe said.
He said the cost shifting was unsustainable.
“We want the state government to take a serious look at reinstating funding to the level it was,” Cr Fyffe said.
Bendigo parking and animal services manager Bruce Duncan said the city was committed to providing school crossing supervisors.
“But the service is a joint responsibility of both local and state government,” he said.
He said the process for allocating a school crossing supervisor was that the City of Greater Bendigo performed traffic counts and submitted the data to VicRoads for assessment.
“If it meets VicRoads requirements, the city receives funding from VicRoads and then organises for a supervisor to operate the crossing, as well as contributing funding to cover the cost of the supervisor,” Mr Duncan said.
“All school crossing supervisors in Greater Bendigo are jointly funded with VicRoads.”
Although funding is based on specific supervised crossing arrangements, VicRoads does not determine which crossings were supervised once the bulk subsidy to local governments had been approved.
Council can vary the number of supervisors at eligible crossings and employ additional supervisors, funded entirely by council.
According to VicRoads, management of crossings that do not meet the eligibility criteria for a supervisor are the responsibility of local government.
VicRoads road user and vehicle access director Robyn Seymour said VicRoads had been working together with local government authorities to provide a safe journey to and from school with the School Crossing Supervisors program for the past 40 years.
“School crossing supervisors are highly valued by the community and VicRoads and contribute positively to community perceptions of safety,” she said.
A review of the state’s school crossing program is due for completion by the year’s end.
Minister for Public Transport and Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, said she had requested more information about the Peel Street crossing, outside Quarry Hill Primary School.
“And will work with council, staff and parents to make any improvements needed,” she said.
The crossing has been unsupervised since the school realised it was not responsible for staffing the crossing.
“We encourage schools to have ongoing and regular discussions with the local council about the need to establish and staff children’s crossings on roads near the school,” a Department of Education and Training spokesman said.
“Schools often run traffic safety education programs to help students become safe road users and regularly remind students and parents of safety measures to take when crossing the road.”
Almost 86 per cent of the 135 respondents to an online poll by the Bendigo Advertiser said they would not feel safe letting a primary school student use an unsupervised school crossing.