Vandalism prompts call for school fence

Jess Crouch, with daughter Rylee, 9, wants a security fence around Shellharbour Public School to prevent vandalism. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Jess Crouch, with daughter Rylee, 9, wants a security fence around Shellharbour Public School to prevent vandalism. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Shellharbour Public School's Parents and Citizens Association has collected more than 1000 signatures on a petition calling for a security fence to be installed at the school.

The school has been vandalised a number of times over several years, including graffiti and broken windows.

In February, vandals broke into the school canteen and damaged the electronic tills, which needed to be replaced, and left food strewn across the grounds.

P&C member and petition organiser Jess Crouch said she wanted the fence installed to prevent future incidents.

"Prevention is the best cure so if you put a fence up, it will stop things from happening in the future," she said.

"For me, knowing that [the school] is as safe as it can be is one of the biggest things."

Ideally, Mrs Crouch would like to see the fence installed before her youngest child starts school in 2016.

The canteen break-in follows a string of incidents at Illawarra schools this term, including theft of copper piping at Coledale Public School and Lake Heights Public School and vandalism at Warrawong High School. The Lake Heights P&C also petitioned for a security fence to be installed last year but was unsuccessful.

Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson addressed Parliament last week, supporting the Shellharbour P&C's request.

"Although [the school's] location is bounded by two busy roads, it is a convenient thoroughfare, which makes the school's facilities and grounds susceptible to vandalism and trespassers."

Ms Watson said she had written to the Education Minister in the hope the fence would be installed as a "matter of urgency".

According to the latest information available on the Department of Education website, 51 of the region's 86 public primary and high schools have security fences.

Some schools also have partial security fencing.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Education said a "security risk assessment" would be conducted on Shellharbour Public School this term.

She said the department's Safety and Security Directorate monitored security incidents in schools and completed risk assessments to develop strategies that helped schools address particular concerns.

"Those strategies, which can include security patrols, electronic surveillance and strengthening of windows and doors, are tailored to address each individual school's needs. Security risk assessments indicate that not all schools benefit from the provision of security fencing."


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