The Genocide continues with Koori school land grab

Ballerrt Mooroop College Cultural Area

Koori school under attack

Alex McAuley Socialist Alternative 2nd June 2011

Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC), greater Melbourne's only remaining Koori school, faces what could be a fatal blow this week as preparations begin for the demolition of a large part of the school grounds. Two thirds of the school grounds were gifted by the state education department to the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) to build a new campus. Under current plans the school hall and ceremonial grounds would be replaced by a car park. In an open letterto state government supporters of Ballerrt Mooroop College have pointed out the racist and colonial nature of this move:

The decision to destroy our cultural heritage for GSS car parks on flawed architectural and bureaucratic advice would never happen in a Catholic, Muslim or Jewish school or Greek school or any specialist interest school.

There is no doubt that students experiencing disabilities in Victoria are in desperate need of decent facilities. But with other school grounds sitting nearby, still vacant from the Kennett era, there is no good reason for GSS to be expanded at the expense of Koori students. The decision to relocate GSS onto BMC grounds is part of an ongoing war of attrition against independent indigenous education by Victorian governments.

Koori schools were rail-roaded into the so called "Wannik strategy" under the previous Labor government. Koori schools across the state were effectively shut down, forcing the bulk of their students to assimilate into mainstream schools. Remaining schools were reclassified "Koori Pathways Schools" which could only take students having difficulty in the mainstream system. Having been set up to fail, BMC and pathway schools in regional Victoria are now being targeted by the Baillieu government for under-performance.

Victoria sits upon stolen land, and its original owners have every right to teach their children about their history and culture. Especially when the alternative is a dubious "education" in the history of white explorers "discovering" Australia, in which the genocide that accompanied colonisation is at best a mere footnote.

Supporters of BMC are determined to see Koori education kept alive and expanded in Melbourne. Building works were planned to commence in December 2010 but were delayed following a sit-in in the school hall. Current and former students, family members, local residents and other supporters have recommenced their occupation this week, and could shortly be facing off against the bulldozers.

Further information on the Save Ballerrt Mooroop College Campaign can be found here.