St George Matters with Chris Minns: Time for action on Hurstville school safety

More than a year has passed since the tragic death of a local student on Forest Road in Hurstville. Out of respect for the parents, friends and family of the young boy, I will not repeat the details of what occurred on that tragic day.

In the days and weeks after the accident, our community rallied around a call for improved safety for children going to and from school. School principals, members of the P&Cs, students and their parents all called for changes. More than 15,000 people signed a petition demanding safer streets around the schools.

The Principals and head teachers of Hurstville Public School, Hurstville Boys High School, Sydney Technical College, Bethany College Hurstville, and St Mary's Star of the Sea have led the campaign on behalf of their students and their communities. It was the schools themselves that put together the road safety proposals that are necessary to keep students safe.

The key proposal is creating an educational precinct around all the schools with a 40 kilometre per hour speed limit. Improved signage and the installation of heavy-duty safety bollards and barriers are all part of sensible and achievable pedestrian safety plan proposed for the area.

Meeting have taken place with representatives of Bayside Council, Georges River Council, NSW Police to discuss their concerns. As the local member I have been involved in these meetings and had numerous discussions with members on the Government benches.

I received a detailed and constructive response on this issue from the Member for Miranda in her capacity and the Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads, confirming Transport for NSW is looking into the feasibility of the 40 km an hour school zone. This is welcome news.

Transport for NSW is also working with Georges River Council into a study of traffic and safety conditions around the schools. This study was put on hold due to COVID-19.

I am not criticising the NSW Government or Georges River Council for their responses. But as we approach the end of the school year, these studies need to be completed and the results made public.

The time for doing studies is over. We need action now on school safety measures so they are in place by the start of the 2021 school year.