Public Works Committee: Kapunda High School redevelopment | SPEECH


The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (11:39): I thank the Public Works Committee, particularly the Chair (member for Kavel) and his colleagues, for this report. Kapunda High School is an absolutely outstanding South Australian school and it does a tremendous job. It caters for students based in the Kapunda township and also a broad range of country-based students, often on farms, from the wider district.

Locally, it is held in very high regard. If I am not mistaken, I think the member for Ramsay attended Kapunda High School as well, and that also speaks for the school. A lot of people have done very well since leaving that school. There are a lot of outstanding teachers and other staff, and there is a tremendous cohort of students in it and who have passed through it. I have come to know many of them over the past 10 or so years.

The school does need an upgrade; there is no doubt about that. I was fortunate to visit the school specifically to look at this need. I have been there many, many times for other reasons. On this occasion, the school principal, Ms Kristen Masters, who does an outstanding job, her deputy principal and the chair of the governing council took me around to see what was needed.

It was interesting to note in the Public Works Committee’s report, as the member for Kavel has just mentioned, that there is $10 million plus $3 million plus $2 million—so $15 million in total—for a body of works to be done. I am sure it is completely resolved, but it is only fair that I put on the record that there has been a bit of confusion on the site with regard to a $15 million upgrade versus a $12 million upgrade versus a $13 million upgrade.

One of the reasons I want to put this on the record is that I was part of that confusion. I included the wrong number in information that was sent out to locals in the Kapunda area, so I offer my sincere apologies for that and will also find other ways to correct that mistake. The reality is that what the Public Works Committee has endorsed, and what the South Australian government intends to do for that school, is absolutely outstanding.

There is still more that needs to be done. I am fully supportive of the school leaders (the principal, deputy principal and chair of the governing council) continuing to engage with me and with the education department about some of the things they hoped would be in this body of work but unfortunately could not quite be afforded. I will again say that what can be afforded and what is going to be done will be absolutely outstanding for Kapunda High School.

Like so many high schools around South Australia, Kapunda High School will shortly be receiving year 7 students. Part of this plan is to be able to make sure that happens. The student population at Kapunda High School is expected to grow even just with the existing years 8 to 12. It is a tremendous community and a tremendous school in a tremendous growth area, and in a tremendous part of our state. I, for one, cannot wait until November 2021 when this work is expected to be completed.

I know that the entire school community, including students, staff, families, and people who no longer have children in the school yet still feel very connected to the school—there are an enormous number of former Kapunda High School students who live in the district and are still very connected to that school—will be incredibly pleased to see this work. We will all be incredibly pleased to see this work, no doubt to the full benefit of students, very early in the 2022 school year.

Fairly quickly, in the short amount of time I have left, I would like to highlight the Kapunda High School Centenary Foundation. An outstanding group of community members, in partnership with the school, have essentially established a fundraising body. The most important part of that is what they do with the funds. This group uses the funds they raise to support past students in their ongoing learning endeavours. It is an absolutely fabulous program.

Very wise people with great foresight and understanding have put this program together. They have raised a lot of money. They share a lot of money with the students. Once a year, they have a bit of a celebration, I suppose, with regard to announcing the next group of financial support recipients. Some people might get a little bit more, some people might get a little bit less, some people might get it for shorter times or longer times.

Importantly, I believe very strongly that it is not just about university. There are a lot of Kapunda High School students who go on to university and certainly some of those receive some support from the Kapunda High School Centenary Foundation, but there are also people who are going into trades and other very important learning opportunities who receive financial support from the centenary foundation. In some cases, that makes their ongoing learning easier with regard to removing some stress and pressure financially. In some cases, that makes their ongoing learning possible because I know that in many cases, if it were not for that support, those students would not be able to go on and continue learning in whatever capacity it may be because they would not have the financial means.

It is an absolutely outstanding part of the broader Kapunda High School effort and community. It is a truly outstanding school in a truly outstanding town and I am incredibly pleased that the Public Works Committee has seen fit to approve this very significant investment in the high school’s ongoing future.