What is an 'Education Precinct' all about? To summarise, it is the
combination of a senior high-school campus with the various learning
organisations that are available to them when they graduate, all
combined at the one location. The primary benefits of this
one-stop-shop approach is to encourage those leaving high-school to
continue study, increasing their chances at finding work and to provide
a smoother transition from each learning organisation to the other.

concept is a new one and the first facility of this kind is due to open
for business in Churchill, Victoria, Australia, next year. The
initiative has been pushed by the Victorian Government as a model that
may be used internationally. It will be part of the existing Gippsland
Campus of Monash University and integrate a college that features
training based on workplace situations, an on-the-job training group,
education facilities for local government and the University itself.

idea underlying the Precinct is in sync with the needs of the Gippsland
region itself, an area that has suffered through economic hardship for
over a decade. The economic situation has had a great impact on the
young people of the area. Youths who have seen their parents work in
the local mining industry; have also seen many of those jobs taken
away. This is also true of the decline in farming and the local
retailers who relied on farmers and miners to support their income. Let
me say that the incentive to achieve for a high-school student that
wants to remain in Gippsland is not very high; a major reason for this
is the lack of employment to replace what was lost.

mining industry was a state owned operation that centred on Gippslands
Latrobe Valley. The major population centres were either formed for or
expanded because of the need for more coal workers, the plants
supplying the states power. In fact, one town that was in the area
simply does not exist anymore, not even as a ghost town. Sounds
strange, but its true, the whole town was dug up for the valuable coal
that was underneath it. Little remains of what was once a town called
Yallourn, apparently it was a nice place too, but just not nice enough
to be spared, I guess.

The change in state government and
the emphasis on cutting debt brought a great amount of sales of
government assets, regardless of their profitability. What were the
Victorian governments greatest assets? The power stations and the open
cut mines that supported them. They were all in one place and trying to
replace the jobs that would be lost by privatisation was not a concern
of the pig-headed and arrogant state premier of the time. Re-training
the workers who left was not an option either, despite how sensible
that sounds. Many who left took the money and relocated to warmer
places, therefore many Victorians would become Queenslanders overnight,
with most going to Brisbane or The Gold Coast. Regardless of where they
went; many were either unemployed or they simply retired (for those who
could), this is what their sons or daughters had to look forward to?
"Why bother trying to make something of yourself if you would end up on
welfare too?" was the thought of many.

Of the younger
generation who had no problem with leaving the area and could, most
would go to the states capital, Melbourne, where there was plenty of
work, or interstate. Many saw this as something cool to do, while that
may be their opinion, I would like to think it was more about trying to
find work than being cool, besides many missed the place too much and
came back (I guess they werent 'cool any more). Despite employment
issues, many residents dont realise what they have. The Latrobe Valley
in particular is only a couple of hours away from everything. From the
state capital Melbourne and national capital Canberra, the snowfields
and alpine national parks, the rolling green hills and forests not to
mention the beaches and fishing playground of Bass Strait (the watery
bit that separates Victoria from the isle of Tasmania). There is much
more to offer than would seem apparent, I think the Victorian
Government realises this, thus the Precinct idea. More must be done for
these people, but at least some people who live there are doing their

If you know of an area in your part of the world where
the young feel they have no incentive to study further, maybe this
Education Precinct idea would be appropriate to encourage them to
expand their learning.

For information on the Education Precinct: http://www.gippsland.monash.edu.au/gep/index.shtml

For more on the Gippsland region check out: http://gippsland.com/
See Matts blog at: http://lightofthequasar.blogspot.com/

Copyright Matt Holt, 2004