Alphington Grammar School gate removed in battle for public access to creek

“Many schools in Melbourne have campuses that traverse public land and they have come up with solutions to address this without blocking access to public land.”

Alphington Grammar School principal Dr Vivianne Nikou said Wednesday that the school’s security footage showed two people removing the fence around 6:45 p.m. the previous night, a job that took about two minutes.

The school has since erected a temporary fence over the footpath, but Nikou said people took the opportunity to walk their dogs through the removed fence and towards the creek early Wednesday morning.

“Some local residents are deliberately provoking by walking through it and saying, we have a right to be here, right in the middle of the children arriving,” Nikou said.

She said the school is considering legal options.

Alphington and Fairfield Civic Association president Todd Perry said the southern part of Alphington just wanted access to the open space along the creek.

“It’s really drilled home with lockdowns over the past two years that open space is very important to us.”

During public consultations, the school has expressed concerns to the council that restoring public access to Old Heidelberg Road “contradicts mandatory child safety standards”.

“It is incredibly traumatic for young children to be confronted by strangers when they should feel safe on their own school grounds, and this has happened several times over the years,” it said.

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“Teachers on site and overseeing outdoor sports activities should clearly discourage unwanted individuals loitering around trying to photograph students.”

VicRoads also investigated the construction of a new connection to the Darebin Creek Trail via Old Heidelberg Road, but rejected the idea due to concerns about student safety, environmental impact and high costs. Instead, it is building a $9.1 million path a short distance south of the school, which will connect the path to Farm Road.

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