Giralang kids face fat future

aidan 24 October 2006 36

The ABC reports that Giralang kids won’t be able to walk to school next year if the local Primary school is closed.

The Canberra Times covered the story as well, but it isn’t online. They did get a quote from Andrew Barr saying he had seen their map and thought they should include it in their submission.

The map was reproduced by the Times, but exclusive to The RiotACT, here it is:

Map of Primary Schools in Belconnen showing walking circles

The schools planned to remain open are indicated by blue dots with a translucent blue circle of 1.6km radius overlayed. This represents a “walking circle”, and was the distance criteria chosen by a previous Government when proposing school amalgamations in the late 1980s. This represents the outer limit of “walkability” for most Primary aged children. Closing schools are represented by red dots and don’t have a walking circle.

The topography makes it even worse than it looks on the picture. There is a significant ridge between Giralang and Kaleen which prevents easy access to Kaleen Primary, and there are two major roads to cross (Chuculba Crescent and Maribyrnong Avenue).

The access to Evatt Primary is restricted because the western edge of Giralang is bounded by a stream and William Slim Drive. All foot traffic to Evatt has to go via the underpass near the roundabout where William Slim Drive and Owen Dixon Drive intersect.

All this adds up to kids not being able to walk to school. A real kick in the teeth as Giralang Primary has the highest walk to school rate in the ACT.

Update: The map has been updated with non-government Primary schools added (no walking circles for these schools though)

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36 Responses to Giralang kids face fat future
nyssa76 nyssa76 3:30 pm 26 Oct 06

aidan, I think you could speak to Trish Wilks, in the Dept, or Michael Bateman, or even the CEO, Michelle Bruniges.

aidan aidan 9:39 am 26 Oct 06

vg, there are heaps of arguments we can make about school closures, and we’re making them. But some of them are more news worthy than others. Childhood obesity is a major issue so it makes sense to highlight the fact that Giralang kids, the majority of whom currently walk to school, will not be able to do so if their school closes.

I take your point about parental responsibility, but clearly encouraging parents to do better isn’t working, or we wouldn’t have the problem. That’s why the Government has programs (e.g. school activity programs, healthy canteens) to help to address the problem. Lower the barriers to doing the right thing and the right thing will happen more. Walking to school is just one part of that.

When looking at obesity in general urban design is an important factor. If local shops are easily accessible by foot people are more likely to walk. This is a good outcome. Sure there are people who would drive their car next door for a pack of Winnie Blues, but overall there are positive effects.

Giralang shops have been closed down as well coz the owners want to make a quick buck. Bugger eh?

Nyssa, any idea who in the Department will make the final decisions about school closures?

The timing of the decision is awful. We know some people who have been offered places at Burgmann next year, but they have to say yes or no before the decision about the schools is announced. They can’t say yes and then pull out because Burgmann makes them pay a terms worth of fees up front which is non-refundable. And some of the teachers will end up applying for jobs in other schools because Giralang’s future is up in the air.

nyssa76 nyssa76 8:37 pm 25 Oct 06

vg, it’s also poor strategic planning and liasing between DET and ACTION.

aidan, whilst the walking point is an issue, the fact that there was little to no planning before releasing the policy, or adequate discussion with stakeholders before the policy was pushed out through the Budget are a disgrace.

Then again, my old “boss” is now the Director of the newly created school closures unit. Getting $100K+ just to do that….what a waste of funds.

DET is suppose to be cutting back on jobs (admin) to save money….then again, anyone who wants to apply for the Telopea Principal position needs to speak to the Green and Green group – DET are outsourcing the selection process.

It use to be in house and cost nothing. Cost cutting? Bullshit. They’re wasting more money now.

vg vg 7:25 pm 25 Oct 06

And I don’t support school closures at all by the way, just think there are better arguments (like lack of bus services maybe?)

vg vg 7:24 pm 25 Oct 06

And ‘anecdotal evidence’ is exactly that, anecdotal. If lazy parents manage to drag their kids away from the PS2 of XBox, pull the Big Macs from their hands, and went outside with them for 30 mins a day and kicked a footy, threw a ball, or simply interacted that would be far better.

Surely there is a better argument against school closures than ‘my kid will get fat if he has to bus/be driven to school.

Anecdotally I can recall probably 2 fat kids at primary school, and we all caught buses.

On a Sunday my parents you to ask me what I was doing if found sitting around the house (generally Sunday was house cleaning day for Mum). If I had no good excuse I was sent on my way either on my bike, or with cricket bat/footy in hand to the local park to while away the hours. Mum got the house clean uninterrupted and I was healthy. Any more than 30 mins on the Atari and the same happened. Now there are 12yo kids that way more than me, and I’m in 3 figures!

Mr Evil Mr Evil 12:35 pm 25 Oct 06

Running away from paedophiles who are hiding in the underpasses could make these kids real athletes.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 11:56 am 25 Oct 06

apparently there is plenty of good foot paths and underpasses in giralang leading to other suburbs. Means you could have really fit kids.

aidan aidan 11:47 am 25 Oct 06

vg, without being rude, this is known as “anecdotal evidence”.

The studies I have read all stress the importance of lowering barriers to healthy physical activity. The easier it is for people to access parks, playgrounds and other locations for physical activity the more active they become.

Sounds like commonsense but it has been quantified.

Walking/biking to school is just part of the mix for addressing childhood obesity. Not only do kids benefit, but adults who walk with kids get more activity as well. Good eh!

This argument might not cut any mustard with you, but it bites with Government. They have any number of programs and initiatives to get kids to be more active, and walking to school is one of them. They know it is the right thing to do, and we’re just pointing out that closing our local school goes against alot of their stated objectives.

vg vg 10:54 am 25 Oct 06

I’m not a big fan of the en masse school closures proposed. They have had 2 terms of government to sort this out. Being tough now shows a lack of spine previously.

Having said that I really think the whole ‘walking to school’ argument is grapsing at straws. I caught a bus to school virtually every day of my scholastic life (as I got older I rode occasionally) and I wasnt a fat kid, quite the contrary. Its what I did at school and after school that kept me svelte.

A parent who goes the whole 9 yards and suggests their child will become fat because they can’t walk to school is, I’m sorry, a lazy parent. Spend 30 mins a day with your kids at the playground or in the backyard and don’t feed them shit. It ain’t rocket surgery

aidan aidan 10:50 am 25 Oct 06


I live in Giralang. My kids will not have a school they can walk to next year if Giralang Primary and Preschool close. I don’t think I have made any secret about that.

Why not Dunlop? I don’t know how difficult it is to walk to Fraser, Charnwood or Macgregor from Dunlop, but notionally these schools are all closer to Dunlop than Evatt and Kaleen are to Giralang.

Those who have bought houses in Dunlop knew where the schools were located when they did so. I guess with house prices as they are they might not have had much of a choice.

I think Spence is more deserving of attention. That said, the latest round of proposed closures don’t make much difference, Spence was screwed when it’s half of Mt Rogers Community School was closed in 1998.

Regarding Crace, are they proposing pedestrian access across the Barton Highway? Crace will be pretty well catered for by Palmerston Primary I should think. But anyone in Crace who wanted to come to Giralang would be more than welcome!

S4anta S4anta 10:13 am 25 Oct 06


Why make the point of just Giralang alone? Using your wonderful circles the same arguement can be made for Dunlop. More importantly, in the years to come there will be more primary school age kids in that suburb than Giralang. There are dangerous roads (plus Charnwood) for the kiddies to deal with on their way to school.

Plus not too mention theother small problem of Crace being developed in the years up to 2020, and the proposed installation of an underpass / over pass to connect Crace to the rest of civilised world.

Now, one last thing, are we using the Giralang issue because a certain somone lives there?, or is it really about the kiddies?

Mr Evil Mr Evil 6:21 pm 24 Oct 06

After looking at the map, I think Lake Ginninderra needs a big fence around it to stop any of those little darlings within walking distance from drowning in it.

Even better idea: Simon can spend taxpayers money having the lake emptied and filled in, and then sell it off to some developer for $15 000!

nyssa76 nyssa76 6:02 pm 24 Oct 06

The map is a good thing, you can see the problem more when it is not wrapped up in political crap.

Does anyone know anyone who is going to that student forum tonight? I’d be interested in a recap.

captainwhorebags captainwhorebags 5:55 pm 24 Oct 06

Pfft, kids aren’t being stopped from walking to school. They’re being encouraged to walk further, thus lowering childhood obesity!

Seriously though, I think we need to buy copies of Simcity for the MLA’s.

aidan aidan 4:45 pm 24 Oct 06

Penetrating analysis there xman.

What age do you think kids could safely bike to school?

Absent Diane, the issue is with inequality. Why is Giralang so screwed? Barr himself noted with respect to Southern Belconnen:

When you look at
that region you will see there are four primary schools within a radius of about four or
five kilometres. One and a half kilometres to the north you have Macquarie primary
school. In the adjoining suburb, which I think is about 2½ kilometres away, is Aranda
school and on the other side is Weetangera primary school, if my Belconnen geography
is right.
The issue relating to Cook is that there is one too many primary schools in that region.

The distance between Aranda and Hawker Primary Schools is approximately the same as the distance between Kaleen Primary and Evatt Primary. After Towards 2020 there will be two Primary schools between Aranda and Hawker, and none between Kaleen and Evatt.

At some point the public education system has to be a universal service. If there are completely unsustainable numbers then maybe something has to be done. That is not the case, currently, with Giralang Primary.

xman xman 4:09 pm 24 Oct 06

Oh FFS…get ’em a bike and let them ride.

aidan aidan 3:49 pm 24 Oct 06


Watch this space for a Canberra Map.

Yes Barr has seen it, when he visited the school. He said something along the lines of “yes, there is a problem”.

When we first did this exercise it was with a photocopy of a street map, a piece of plastic with two holes punched in it and a pencil. We were surprised how isolated Giralang will be, and how well serviced some other areas will remain.

They clearly didn’t do this exercise when deciding which schools to close.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 3:48 pm 24 Oct 06

Thumper – lawson is where the moon landing was staged.

The giralang situation is unfortunate. BUT plenty of kids in sydney and other major cities have to travel as far if not further 🙂

nyssa76 nyssa76 3:43 pm 24 Oct 06

aidan, is there a map for the entire Canberra area?

I wonder if Mr. Barr has seen this….

S4anta S4anta 3:07 pm 24 Oct 06

Trebuchets are solution to all i tells ya.

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