THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
GEORGIANA MOLLOY ANGLICAN SCHOOL
“From Concept to Reality”
When I the Rev’d (later Canon) Tom Wilmot was commissioned as the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Busselton – Dunsborough in September 1996 the need for an Anglican School “On the Cape” became obvious, for the following reasons:
All the existing schools were operating at capacity.
The phenomenon of the depopulation of rural Australia, with the consequent burgeoning of coastal regional towns.
This was evident by the second highest national per capita growth rate outside of Sydney being experienced by the Busselton – Dunsborough region. This population trend continues to this day. Another factor was and is the large number of Anglican families who had enrolled their children in the local Catholic schools. This last fact was brought home to me by Catholic Father Leon Russell who stopped me in my tracks in the main street of Busselton one day in January 1997 with the question “When are you going to build an Anglican School?” Note the good Catholic Father only asked when the school would be built sooner rather than later assumed and not negotiable!
With Father Leon’s question ringing in my ears I formed the first school Steering Committee to explore the development of an Anglican Schools Commission school on the Cape. The Anglican Schools Commission was an obvious avenue of development given the Provincial brief of the Anglican Schools Commission to establish low fee Anglican Schools and the precedent of an Anglican Schools Commission school in the Diocese of Bunbury in The Frederick Irwin Anglican School in Mandurah.
The Steering Committee met with the then CEO of the Anglican Schools Commission, Michael Bromilow who briefed us with a constitution, a vision and a time line for the development of a school. His exhortation to that starry eyed and keen steering committee proved to be prophetic words. His caution was “you will all need to commit a lot of energy to this project over a long period of time for it to come to fruition”. Those words to the steering committee became our motivational touchstone over the many obstacles of the subsequent years.
Like all grand designs and big dreams, the idea of a school met with great acceptance and some resistance, both from unlikely quarters. Public meetings were held in Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River to raise community awareness and solicit expressions of interest from parents who may then finally enrol their children in the school.
The first Steering Committee, guided by Michael Bromilow, chaired by Rev’d Tom Wilmot attended to; generating expressions of interest, choosing a site, contracting and briefing architect Darryl Way, creating a school crest, attending to press releases and publicity and choosing a patron for the school (ie a name). The initial site for the school was centred on the future townsite of Vasse – Newtown being the logical epicentre between Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River. This site would require expensive fill and infrastructure, but had the advantage of ease of acceptance from the existing centres of population – a desirable feature for a “day school” which is designed to service the Cape Region.
At the eleventh hour the developer couldn’t deliver on title or infrastructure to meet the opening date of 2002 so the agonising decision of delaying the opening for one year from 2002 to 2003 was forced on the Anglican Schools Commission and the steering committee in order to explore the best options for a new school site. Three other sites emerged from this process as thinkable but the eventual site of Yalyalup within the Airport Structure Plan being developed by Nigel Satterley won the day with 15.2 hectares of land complete with title and infrastructure costs thrown in. An offer too good to refuse! This location on the high profile dual carriageway and linked to the Cape via the new ring road will prove to be ideal in the long term.
Because of the belated ‘addition’ of the school to an exciting structure plan, many hurdles had to be crossed in order to achieve closure on planning approvals, building licence and title. Again at the eleventh hour the project was mooted. The Anglican Schools Commission and the then Interim School Council of the Anglican Schools Commission had employed a Principal, Ross Switzer, who was unaware of the latest problems and was in the process of relocating from Cairns to Busselton.....but unknowingly still did not have a school. Now that’s “struggle” and “danger” enough for any adventure!
The moments of “sparkling beauty” came in the WA Planning Authority Approvals, and the final unanimous approval of a special meeting of the Shire Council on the 26 June 2002, with the Rev Dr Tom Wallace representing the Anglican Schools Commission, and Bishop David McCall representing the Diocese of Bunbury, together with the Chair and Veteran members of the Interim School Council. This specially convened meeting took just six minutes from the presentation of the approval motion to pass unanimously. Ross Switzer and his wife Jenny arrived in Busselton the next day!
There are many other stories woven into this big adventure each deserving a separate chapter. They are yet to be written. What is obvious to everyone concerned, however, is this: The Georgiana Molloy Anglican School will be a fine school. If nothing good is grown in haste or without struggle then the Georgiana Molloy Anglican School is a very good thing for our children and for our future. The struggle, danger and sparkling beauty will continue for such is the nature of God’s dawning Kingdom of which Georgiana Molloy Anglican School is a glorious part.
To be continued………….
Reverend Canon Tom Wilmot
CHAIRMAN OF SCHOOL COUNCIL - 16 July 2002