ADJOURNMENT DEBATE ON GEELONG SCHOOL INTERNET

My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Education and is about the government providing proper internet access to public secondary school students in the Geelong region, comprising the municipalities of Colac Otway, Golden Plains, Greater Geelong, Queenscliffe and the Surf Coast. I was recently updated on the issue by Professor Jane den Hollander, vice-chancellor of Deakin University, as well as the CEO of G21, Elaine Carbines. I thank them both for their time and passionate interest in providing better educational outcomes for secondary students. I am also indebted to Ms Carbines for providing her research on this matter.

Access to AARNet is the solution. The state government claims that Victoria is the Education State, so it is simply not good enough that the Department of Education and Training says it will double current school internet speeds to 100 megabytes per second, 10 times slower than AARNet’s slowest speed. NBN download speeds range from 12 megabytes per second to 100 megabytes per second, while AARNet download speeds range from 1 gigabyte per second to 100 gigabytes per second. Currently students can often only access the internet one class at a time. This is totally unacceptable. However, with the extensive fibre-optic cable network of AARNet, multiple classes can simultaneously access the internet without performance issues. Without high-capacity internet, students and teachers cannot adequately use information sites, ebooks or education platforms, stream online educational classes and events, participate in high-definition videoconferencing, share resources between schools or deliver the curriculum electronically.

The Geelong secondary schools and community digital learning hub solution would only cost $4.5 million and would be delivered through AARNet—a not-for-profit research and education network jointly owned by the CSIRO and Australian universities, including Deakin. While the Geelong Tech School has full access to AARNet, most public school students attending course units at the tech must return to their own school’s inferior classroom internet—what a disgrace! The Geelong region has made it easy for the government to facilitate a ready-made solution to the currently inadequate internet access at many schools. The action required of the minister is to immediately agree to the AARNet solution to ensure these students are no longer disadvantaged. If this model is applied, regional students across Victoria could benefit.

5 March 2019