Member for Central Wheatbelt Hon Mia Davies MLA has welcomed the announcement that the Public Accounts Committee will consider a review into the current regulations and guidelines for School Bus Services (SBS) after colleague Peter Rundle MLA Shadow Minister for Education and Training repeatedly bought this issue to the attention of our State Parliament.
“In the last four years our country MP’s have been dealing with an ever-growing number of concerns about access to school buses,” said Ms Davies.
“The review will be an opportunity for rural families that face challenges accessing the service, and contractors that provide this valuable service.”
Ms Davies said the service provided transport assistance to more than 25,000 rural students on 967 services across regional Western Australia to enable students to attend school regularly.
“The guidelines deciding who is an eligible student and where a bus stops were formulated in 1999, and my electorate office have received an increasing number of complaints from parents throughout the Central Wheatbelt over the last four years,” said Ms Davies.
“Some of the decisions about where a bus stops and who is eligible are resulting in parents having to drive long distances or being forced to leave employment because they cannot access the bus route that will take their child to school.”
Currently for a student to be eligible on a SBS they must be enrolled at their nearest appropriate school, regularly use the school bus, live more than 4.5kms from their school, and reside outside a designated public transport area.
Students who are not eligible for transport assistance may be allowed to travel as complimentary passengers but that is subject to several conditions.
Peter Rundle MLA said education is fundamental for every child in this State, and parents and carers should not have to worry about how their child will get to school.
“I am happy the review has been agreed to and I look forward to taking part and putting the issues and concerns of Regional West Australians at the forefront,” said Mr Rundle.
“I do have some concerns that the Committee is limited to reviewing the contracts within the current funding parameters, especially with the State Government sitting on such a significant budget surplus.”
Ms Davies said the Public Accounts Committee would provide details of the review and encouraged parents, P&Cs, contractors, and community members to make their views known when calls for submissions opened.