Caption: Member for Glasshouse Andrew Powell, Chevallum State School crossing supervisors Jodie Gibbins and Ash Murray, and P&C President Ben Calder.
By Richard Bruinsma
Children making their way to classes at Chevallum State School now have better protection from dangerous traffic, thanks to the road crossing officers at the school becoming paid positions.
The roles have for almost three years been filled in a voluntary capacity, relying particularly on community members Ash Murray and Jodie Gibbins to ensure the job was done and families protected.
“Someone had to do it; we had nothing before so it was extremely dangerous, and when they said they needed the service, but it was unpaid, Jodie and I decided to do it,” Mr Murray said.
But in a sobering reflection of why they are needed at the crossing – which links the informal car park at a local supportive strawberry farm to the school campus – it hasn’t been a risk-free ride.
“I’ve jumped out of the way a couple of times,” Mr Murray said about controlling the traffic along Chevallum Road.
“They don’t see you, or they’re on the phone, or they drive straight around you.”
The children’s safety was improved a little by the construction of an actual crossing.
“Before the crossing, people used to cut corners; every morning you’d count 18 or 19 B-Double trucks through here.”
However, thanks to lobbying by local state MP Andrew Powell and the school’s P&C, the two positions have attracted state government funding.
“It’s been a long process, both getting the crossing for a start from Council, because it’s an unofficial carpark so it’s virtually a crossing to nowhere,” P&C President Ben Calder said.
“And with the help of Andrew and the P&C, we proved the case that it’s a dangerous road and we can’t depend on the goodwill of parents forever.
“As far as commitment go, it’s probably the biggest in the school; they’re there rain, hail or shine, they’ve been abused by truck drivers, they’re there morning and night in order to keep the children safe crossing the road.
“It’s a great result to recognise that contribution and finally be able to implement that as a paid role and recognise the importance of the positions.”
Perhaps fittingly, the money doesn’t really change things for the two crossing officers.
“It really didn’t worry me if we were paid or not; I just loved doing it,” Ms Gibbins said. “Chevallum is an awesome school community.”
For Mr Murray, who works as an agent with Insite Realty, Sippy Downs, the introduction of wages means he feels able to pass on the position to someone who needs income.
“Not that I don’t like doing it, but now that it’s paid, maybe someone else who really needs it might be able to do it,” Mr Murray explained.
Member for Glass House Andrew Powell said the roles are vital along the busy road.
“With Chevallum having been an open enrolment school, it would attract kids from all over the coast because of its unique approach to learning, so many of the parents are not locals, there’s very few buses so it is a case of everyone gets dropped off,” Mr Powell said.
“Whilst there’s still more work to do to truly make it safe, knowing we now have a paid crossing supervisor is a great outcome.”
Mr Calder described the paid positions as “a great step in an ongoing process” to make Chevallum Road safer for everyone.
He believed the road needed to be widened to make it safer.