South Barwon MP Andrew Katos calls for dedicated autism school at Oberon site

MP Andrew Katos says the Oberon school site should be retained for education purposes.

Harrison Tippet

A LIBERAL MP has called for a soon-to-be-surplus school site in Belmont to be transformed into Geelong’s first dedicated Autism Spectrum Disorder school.

South Barwon MP Andrew Katos said the site of Oberon High School in Belmont should be retained by the Government if the school is moved to Armstrong Creek as planned — not sold off and subdivided.

“The government shouldn’t be selling off the site, they should be retaining is for education purposes,” the state Liberal MP said.

“First of all Oberon’s move to Armstrong Creek has got to be funded. Assuming that takes place, then rather than sell the site it should be repurposed for an autism specific school for the Geelong region.

“The Geelong region has an above average incidence of autism, and there have been calls for quite a while for an autism specific school in Geelong.”

In 2016, the State Government announced it would relocate OHS to a new education precinct in Armstrong Creek.

The Government has not yet funded the school’s move, and has not decided on how it will use — or sell — the land once the school has relocated.

“Work is still underway to determine how the Oberon High School site will be used into the future,” a Government spokesman for State Education Minister James Merlino said.

“We carefully review all former school sites to see whether they should be retained for future educational or other uses.”

Oberon High School is expected to be moved to Armstrong Creek and be ready for students before 2021. It will join a primary school and special school — for which enrolments opened early last year.

The new primary and special school is expected to open its doors this year for both mainstream students from Prep to Year 6, and for special needs students from Prep to Year 12.

In Geelong, it has been previously reported about 1-in-50 children exhibit characteristics on the autism spectrum — more than double the national average.

There are currently two special schools in Geelong — the Nelson Park School in Bell Park and the Barwon Valley School in Belmont.