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22 February 2012
By Matt Hrkac

Building Program Campaign: Richard Marles Visits Geelong High School

Over the last year, I have heard many complaints and concerns of teachers and students who have to work and learn in sub-par classrooms at Geelong High School. With me being on the Student Representative Council this year, I vested it upon myself and made it an issue on my agenda that should properly be recognised by the appropriate people.Over the Christmas holidays, I sent an email on behalf of the student body at Geelong High School to several politicians; both state and federal, regarding the state of some of the facilities at Geelong High School. In particular, the school's Winstanley building where the arts and most of the technology facilities are presently located, with nothing being done to effectively improve the learning and working conditions of classrooms in this building.

You can easily assume that it came as a shock to me (which is true) when the school's acting principal, Ms. Ruth Higginson; called me out of class on Tuesday morning this week to inform me that The Hon. Richard Marles, MP (the federal minister for Corio) would be visiting Geelong High School and wanted to meet me to, among other things; discuss the shocking state that some of the classrooms are currently in, and to also see first hand the state of some of these classrooms.
Who would've ever thought that an email from a single student would encourage a federal politician to come and visit the school? Is this an actual sign that funding may be granted to Geelong High School to improve its facilities? Only time will tell. I do certainly feel though that this is a small victory, and a lot more battling will need to be done before Geelong High School wins this "funding war" that has been going on.
On the conclusion of the tour, Marles said that he "would do what he can" to get Geelong High School the funding that it both needs, and deserves - which is certainly good news.  The school "has been around for 100 years, an achievement that not many schools accomplish", as noted by the school's current Acting Principal, Ms. Ruth Higginson.
If you are a student, not only attending Geelong High School but really, any government secondary school in Australia that is in urgent need of maintenance - I strongly recommend that you get in touch with your local MP about it, they don't bite and if anything, they are just regular human beings like you and me. In reality, the "big boys" of a school constantly pestering the government can get old pretty quickly. I'm on the Student Representative Council but I didn't do this because I had to, I did this because I wanted to!
In this case, all it took was an email from a student to get the local MP to investigate, and I strongly recommend that you do this. The view of an institution from a different perspective can lead to things potentially getting done, and an email can make a difference. The feedback that I have been receiving so far has been fantastic, so fingers crossed that funding will be granted!
More pictures will be added as they surface!
- Matt Hrkac.

About the author:

Matt Hrkac is a writer and photographer based in Geelong. He has particular interests in politics, elections, social movements and the trade union movement. If you like what you see here, please consider giving a small donation to help cover the expenses.

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