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Northern Beaches Secondary College Cromer Campus

Across the northern beaches the community has been crying out for more indoor multi‑use sports courts so everyone can play the sports they love. Waiting lists are in the thousands, with kids missing out. I have raised this issue both with Ministers and in the Chamber on multiple occasions, particularly in relation to the demand to play basketball.

At the same time, the Northern Beaches Secondary College Cromer Campus P&C has been making a strong case for a new school hall, not only for sport but also for all‑school assemblies, music and other performances. In particular, I thank Jackie Reavie for her leadership on this as president of the P&C. Last week we celebrated the Government's commitment for us to get both, in a two‑in‑one‑style development at Cromer Campus: a multi‑court sports facility for community use that doubles as a new school hall to meet the varied needs of this excellent local public high school. Significant funding to start planning this new facility was confirmed in the budget on Wednesday, the school one of only a handful slated for new major works across the State.

On Friday I was pleased to welcome the Premier to the Wakehurst electorate, where he visited the high school. He even got to shoot some hoops with the under‑16s basketball team on the outdoor concrete courts where it practises and present medals to the players for recently winning the State championships, a remarkable achievement I have previously mentioned in this place. I am passionate about providing our young people with the facilities to support a rich and fulfilling extracurricular life, whether that involves playing in a basketball team or a band or performing in a stage production. These activities bring joy, connection and purpose to the lives of students. Youth mental health, in particular, is a major concern for parents in this area, so it has always been—and always will be—a top priority for me.

In recent years Cromer campus has gone from strength to strength. Students are consistently improving in their NAPLAN results. Just two years ago the school got its best‑ever HSC results. The creative arts program at the school is now flourishing, with the first school musical in decades held just last year. Cromer campus is also very culturally diverse, with some 27 per cent of students having a language background other than English and 55 language backgrounds in total represented at the school.

Staff and students do a great job of celebrating this cultural diversity and the richness it brings. For example, on Harmony Day last year students from Filipino, Nepali, Thai and Tongan backgrounds celebrated their cultures together through dance and presentations, including a display of traditional dress and greeting the school in their varied languages. The link back to sport is also important here, with teachers crediting the strong sporting culture as important in fostering harmony at the school. Playing sport together unites people. It is about teamwork, as simple as that.

I acknowledge the exceptional leadership of Mr Justin Hong, who is in his tenth year at the school and has really turned it around. Not only does he run the place as principal, which is more like a CEO these days, but also coaches the basketball team and is the drummer in the teachers' band. He is quite the legend—but he is no Larry Mullen Jr. Justin rightly credits his committed and dynamic teaching staff members, who go above and beyond for the students. I too can attest to those great teachers. Their hard work means Cromer is an excellent comprehensive local public high school that builds the talents and potential of all its students across the areas of academia, sports and the arts. The whole community is indebted to them.

There have been no major infrastructure projects at the school since it opened nearly 50 years ago, despite the student population doubling to 1,200 kids—and growing—over the last decade. To walk around the grounds feels like going back in time. On the day the Premier visited, the weather obliged with some light drizzle to demonstrate the point that there is no indoor space large enough to comfortably fit large groups of students, let alone the whole school.

I am so proud of Cromer campus. It is awesome to see this local public high school receive the investment it needs and deserves. With a new purpose‑built, multi‑use school hall for all the community to use, I cannot wait to see the school continue to thrive. The announced commencement of planning for the facility is just the start. I look forward to working with the school, the community and the sporting groups over coming months to make sure the final design delivers a great outcome that meets the needs of the whole community, which I know it will. Cromer campus and Mr Hong, I love your work.

21 June 2024, 14:15.

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