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Learning from the Past was founded by Jon Armstrong to tackle the crisis in Victorian education infrastructure planning. While there is general agreement that too many schools were sold off in the 1990s, the glaring lessons have not been learned by Education Department bureaucrats. A temporary dip in school enrolments was no excuse for the reckless disposal of invaluable state assets.

The side-effects of that era have now come back to haunt us: a population surge has found parents wondering why their local government schools are so few and far between, and seriously over-crowded. And in many suburbs, land values have sky-rocketed such that the State Government cannot find affordable sites to build new schools. Yet if some of those school sites had remained in public hands, then the needs of a new generation of school children could have been satisfied.

And what about those Victorians whose school days have been effectively devalued? Hundreds of schools were closed in the 1990s, but when former students want to take a trip down memory lane, they can find themselves in an unfamiliar housing estate instead. Often, there is no plaque or acknowledgement of the past history of the site.

Whereas plaques can only display a limited amount of information, on-line services have no such restrictions. But a comprehensive on-line service is not available, one that would offer a broad view of what was lost across Victoria for the benefit of former students, teachers and the general public. Public Records Office Victoria, Heritage Victoria and historical societies provide component parts, but no-one offers a comprehensive service. Learning from the Past aims to do just that.

As a former teacher and public servant, Jon Armstrong knows both the strengths and weaknesses of government planning. During his time as Technology Director with the Victorian Privacy Commission, Jon urged the Education Department to deal with fundamental flaws in the design of the now defunct Ultranet project. He also provided guidance to government agencies for the implementation of electronic transactions, mobile applications and cyber security.

Services Offered

  1. A free service for the people of Victoria. Both to offer superior education planning techniques and to give voice to those who have already lost their schools.
  2. Fee for service. Please contact us to discuss your proposal and request a quote.

Acknowledgements

  • Moreland City Council: staff and councillors
  • Darebin City Council
  • .id consulting
  • Australian Education Union
  • Cate Hall
  • Our Children Our Schools
  • Professor Kevin O’Connor
  • David Jones, Eastern Resource Centre, University of Melbourne
  • Coburg High School Historical Society
  • Moreland library (Coburg branch)

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