Bus funding boost gets kids to school

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Member for Pilbara Kevin Michel with South Hedland Primary School Principal Daryl Mansfield and members of the Police, Department of Education and YIC with the Hedland Attendance Program Bus.
Camera IconMember for Pilbara Kevin Michel with South Hedland Primary School Principal Daryl Mansfield and members of the Police, Department of Education and YIC with the Hedland Attendance Program Bus.

A vital school bus program that has seen absent students return to school has had its funding extended until the end of the year.

Under the Hedland Attendance Strategy, children are transported to Cassia, Baler and South Hedland primary schools and Hedland Senior High School.

The Department of Education-funded program has seen 55 students return to school compared to this time last year as part of the partnership involving police, the Department of Communities, and the Youth Involvement Council.

Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery said the bus service already had a positive impact on school attendance.

“If we can make it easier for reluctant attenders to get to school via the bus service, then our teachers can make sure these children receive a great education,” she said.

YIC chief executive Vicki-Tree Stephens said she was excited to see the funding extended.

Ms Stephens said it was great to have a bus program running again after YIC ran a similar service from 2011-2015 through funding from BHP before it was discontinued.

“We’re excited to be a part of it again because we already know it works from those four years and it’s fantastic that the Department of Education has found the money to cover the costs so we can use our bus and driver,” she said. “The problem is if they’re not getting there, then every week, every term and every year that ticks by means they’re less likely to go to school.”

Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said he was disappointed funding had only been extended until the end of the year. “It’s pretty poor considering the massive benefits that have been created in a very short space of time because of the initiative of the Town’s Community Safety Advisory Forum that initiated the program,” he said.

“The Government needs to step up and announce a real commitment to this program, to maintain it indefinitely.”

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