On Friday January 31st, we had the pleasure of attending the official opening of the new $32.7 million Wonthaggi Secondary College – an education and community led project incorporating a new contemporary senior campus for Year 10–12 students, with a three court competition-grade basketball stadium to be shared with the Bass Coast community.
As Project Manager and Superintendent for the delivery of the project, attending the event was hugely fulfilling for the SEMZ team.
School Principal, Darren Parker addressed a capacity audience of staff, students, community representatives and project stakeholders, speaking of the journey over the past 15 years from advocating and planning through to design and delivery of an enhanced learning facility for the people of the Bass Coast area.
“There have been a number of key people and organisations involved in sharing our journey and our goals. Whilst people and organisations change, a number of individuals have been key contributors in creating this fantastic school.”
Darren spoke of the supportive and collaborative relationship the school shared with the design team, contractors and the SEMZ team. “We connected with Clarke Hopkins Clarke, our wonderful architects, and our relationship with their team is one that we absolutely value. We then met a team called SEMZ – our Project Managers. Ken has a fantastic team. To Tom and Declan and previously Alex, it was great that we were working with real people on the project who cared about the end result, where we could just work together to produce such an outstanding project. Then a team from SJ Higgins built this wonderful facility. To everyone involved you have done an outstanding job and we just love our facility here and that it is such a showcase of public education.”
‘we just love our facility here and that it is such a showcase of public education’
SEMZ Director Ken Santamaria elaborates. “The entire project was a great example of successful collaboration. The environment we created with the project team and client was very positive and communication flowed freely throughout the project. Problems were solved through collaboration, as issues arose we talked them through with the various contractors and stakeholders to arrive at the best solution for the project, rather than attributing blame and consequences.”
‘The environment we created with the project team and client was very positive. Communication flowed freely throughout the project.’
Deputy Premier – Minister for Education James Merlino officiated the opening ceremony and spoke of the significance of this era in Victorian education;
“This is an exciting day, and it’s quite a historic time in education. For the first time ever, we have cracked one million students in Victoria – primary and secondary school. This week alone we have opened 11 brand new schools. Last year we opened nine and next year we’re opening 14.”
‘This school is not just about students in Wonthaggi, this is an Education and community project for students from right across the Bass Coast Shire.’
James Merlino spoke of the changing face of education and the need to provide spaces and facilities to prepare students for a successful future. “The average 15 year old today will work in five completely different careers and will have 17 different jobs – that’s the average! This is the world of work that we are providing education for. It’s important that we provide not just literacy and numeracy, but critical and creative thinking skills, problem solving skills, collaboration, empathy and leadership. The design of Wonthaggi Secondary Collage is stunning and will give teachers and students the best possible physical environment to meet and reach their goals, dreams and ambitions.
‘The design of Wonthaggi Secondary Collage is stunning and will give teachers and students the best possible physical environment to meet and reach their goals, dreams and ambitions.’
James Merlino acknowledged the importance of successful collaboration in managing the project – “There is a sense of achievement in positive collaboration between the School, the VSBA and the local Government. This school is a $31M investment by the state and a $1.7M investment by local Government and Basketball Association and by partnering together they have achieved a three court competition grade basketball court for the school and the community.”
Ken Santamaria spoke of the fulfilment in delivering the new Wonthaggi Secondary College. “It’s phenomenally rewarding for us as Project Managers to be working on education projects. This is even more significant when the project is regionally based and especially in this case being a joint venture between the school, the VSBA and the local council.”
‘Being able to expertly involve everyone, managing the project for both groups effectively is extraordinarily important. We relish the opportunity to lead these relationships in a way that enables project success for everyone. The key stakeholders all felt involved as they were brought through the process with input on every relevant decision. That’s our approach and one that we believe leads to the best project outcome – for everyone.’
Tom Warne – SEMZ Senior Project Manager agrees ‘this project is a great example of how the best possible outcome is achieved when projects are truly collaborative.’ Tom reflects on personal fulfilment in delivering this education project ‘it’s so rewarding for us as Project Managers – and particularly in regional centres, where we are literally changing people’s lives. Creating better facilities for teachers, who in turn provide better education opportunities for students and then we hope that the outcomes and opportunities for the students from those new facilities lead them to areas they couldn’t have dreamt about before.’
‘it’s so rewarding for us as Project Managers – and particularly in regional centres where we are literally changing people’s lives’
As an organisation with significant involvement in building Victorian Schools over recent years, SEMZ has developed relationships with many regional and local schools and communities, working with highly skilled design teams and Contractors. It’s an exciting time to be involved in Education infrastructure with the sophisticated development of personalised learning approaches.
The SEMZ team embrace opportunities to take on regional projects. Working as Project Manager on the Wonthaggi project, Declan Cashin enjoyed the opportunity to work in a regional location. “This project is a great example of our ability as an organisation to overcome the barriers of a regional location and successfully manage a remote project. We fully commit to the project and ensure we have the resources in place to meet project needs. The drive to site gives our team a great opportunity to build relationships and talk through the project in depth. It changes up the week and provides a contrast to the office and urban projects.”
Congratulations to all parties involved in the design and delivery of Wonthaggi Secondary College. We’re proud to have played a part in this significant project and look forward to implementing the knowledge gained as we work with the VSBA to deliver future Victorian Schools.