Hansard Extract – Members Statement – 16 March 2021

Mr HODGETT (Croydon) (13:33): I rise to speak about Ainslie Parklands Primary School and to highlight the need for funding for the school to finish major works. Ainslie Parklands received around $251 000 last year for a playground upgrade, but the primary school will need a significant amount more to complete the upgrade and rebuild. I visited the school back in December and had the opportunity to discuss the plans for upgrade with the principal, Brett MacKenzie, who was doing fantastic work to make the school a great environment for the growing number of students. With the funding Ainslie Parklands Primary School can continue to operate to its high standard and provide state-of-the-art school facilities. This is especially important for the young students who have returned to campus after their learning was disrupted for much of 2020. I encourage the minister to consider granting Ainslie Parklands Primary School additional funding to complete these much-needed upgrades.


Hansard Extract – Members Statement – 16 March 2021

Mr HODGETT: On another matter, I wish to bring the Dining Room Mission in Croydon to the attention of the house. The Dining Room Mission is an organisation that supports disadvantaged members of the community and has been doing so since 2005. It provides nutritious meals for those who are struggling and offers additional services such as a free clothes market. The Dining Room Mission is staffed by generous volunteers and provides its meals for free. The organisation is in need of funding to continue to offer these services to the community. 2020 was a tough year, and unfortunately the tough times are not over for many. Many people are still without jobs and turn to the Dining Room Mission for meals. Like many other organisations providing support to the community, the Dining Room Mission had to adapt its services but continued to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic to help an increased number of people. Organisations like the Dining Room Mission that go above and beyond to give back to the community must be supported.

COVID-19 Snap Lockdown

Hansard Extract – Members Statement – 17 February 2021

Mr HODGETT (Croydon)

As Shadow Minister for Education I am deeply concerned by this snap five-day lockdown.

This week, instead of going to school, students statewide have been forced to return to remote learning AGAIN. Whilst schools have done a magnificent job pivoting last year to remote learning, it should be pointed out that schools are, by design, a face-to-face learning environment. I need to emphasise this because it is important to remember that remote learning is not an equal substitute for face-to-face learning. Every day that students are forced to learn remotely is another day of compromised education, not just from an academic standpoint but from an emotional standpoint too.

We have evidence for this: we saw last year the effects of the lockdown not only in terms of learning but on students’ mental health, feelings of belonging and social development.

It is also critical to remember that positive learning habits take time to develop. Stopping onsite school at this early juncture puts a dent in the learning momentum that is being built in the early stages of the year.

It has also been widely acknowledged that attendance at school is lower in the regions than in metro, and yet, with the Premier acknowledging that there is no virus in the regions, students there are also being forced to learn at home.

We still don’t know what the long-term effects on student learning and mental health from last year have been. We do know that the World Health Organization says school closures are ‘devastating’ for students. We do know that the OECD says ‘learning losses’ will be ‘permanent’. We do know that students have been genuinely traumatised by the lockdown of 2020, and they need to know that the government is prioritising their academic and mental health needs.

We also do know that students are desperately seeking certainty and that they want to have confidence that lockdowns will not be part of the 2021 school landscape.

School closures should be a last resort, not part of a statewide strategy aimed at eliminating a virus. It is imperative that the negative impact of school closures is at the top of mind when decisions are made regarding lockdown measures.

I cannot state this more emphatically. Schools should have remained open during this lockdown.


Hansard Extract – Adjournment Debate 4 February 2021


Mr HODGETT (Croydon) (17:32): (5517) I wish to raise a matter with the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and the action I seek is for the minister to ensure that our police stations are open to the public and resourced to be able to protect our communities. My office was contacted today by Kerri Grassby, who owns and operates a local florist business, Blooms on Brice. Kerri has been hearing from her customers for some time that the Mooroolbark police station has not been open to the public and officers are not answering the door or phones. In fact I am informed that in the region only Knox and Lilydale police stations are open to visitors and taking phone calls.

Unfortunately last night Kerri was directly impacted by these changes when her business was robbed. Mooroolbark police station was called, but no-one picked up. Lilydale police station was called, and the officer stated that they would be unavailable to attend immediately but would attend when possible. This is unacceptable. The security guard then called 000 and officers were able to attend the scene. Mooroolbark police station is barely a few hundred metres from Kerri’s business. Had they picked up the phone, police officers could have been at the scene immediately and possibly have apprehended the robbers. Instead Kerri’s time was wasted in calling police stations that did not answer or told her that she would have to wait awhile. As a result the robbers were able to get away and Kerri will not be getting back the cash and other items that were stolen.

Kerri’s business, like many others in Victoria, has already suffered due to the pandemic, but in addition to that Kerri’s business is opposite the Mooroolbark station, which is currently undergoing level crossing removal works. Her business is already suffering from reduced traffic flow, and now she has been informed that there will be road closures over Valentine’s Day, the busiest day of the year for her. The last thing that Kerri and other local business owners need to worry about is not being able to rely on the police when emergencies arise.

I urge the minister to look closely at the damage being done in communities due to the closure of police stations. For too long the Premier has kept more than 850 police on the borders and off the beat. Even the Police Association Victoria have said the resources are being wasted at the border and that police are stretched. Police resources are not being allocated effectively, and our communities are paying the price. Using such large numbers of police for administrative tasks at the border is a waste. Minister, it is time for police officers to return to local police stations, for our police stations to be adequately resourced and open to the public and for our hardworking police officers to be returned to their role of protecting the community. I again call on the minister to ensure that our police stations are open to the public and resourced to be able to protect our local communities.