Location Confirmed for Best Start, Best Life Module in St Arnaud

Published on 06 May 2024

Location Confirmed for Victorian Government’s Best Start, Best Life Modular Building in St Arnaud 

06 May 2024  

The decision has been made to endorse the Victorian Government’s Best Start, Best Life modular building at the St Arnaud Primary School North Site, with timing of delivery, safety concerns raised by community stakeholders, as well as site constraints and tree removal requirements narrowing the feasibility of available options.   

The Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) notified Northern Grampians Shire Council that a decision on the site for the Best Start, Best Life modular buildings would need to be made by May 2024 to enable the new buildings to be operational by January 2025. The council decision was informed by the St Arnaud Integrated Early Years Service Stakeholder Reference Group, the VSBA and other community stakeholders to inform its decision.  

Assessments carried out by the VSBA noted constraints or timing of building, with the North section of the State Primary School or the Stadium sites highlighted as options to consider further. The North Site had been raised previously but dismissed as not having sufficient space for a future integrated space. The Council endorsement is conditional upon addressing matters including traffic management and provision of sufficient space for a future integrated service.  

Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Cr Rob Haswell, explained the reasoning behind the decision made during the Northern Grampians Shire Council Meeting, held at the Pleasant Creek Historical Precinct on Monday 6 May.  

“The only two viable options presented to the council by the VSBA were the Stadium Site and the North Site at St Arnaud Primary School. VSBA informed us that the Stadium Site would require lengthy negotiations on Native Title that would place a high risk on the modulars not being ready by January 2025,” said Cr Haswell. 

“Traffic safety concerns raised by community and Council ruled out the St Arnaud Primary School South Site. The VSBA also assessed land at the pool and CFA but with additional site constraints and the need for significant tree clearing, these options were also ruled out.”   

‘“We really don’t want our communities to be disadvantaged any more than they already are; the only logical decision was the North Site. We have made a conditional decision today rather than delaying our decision and losing the modular buildings that our community have been offered. This decision is conditional as we need assurance that our plans for an integrated space can be met at this site,” added Cr Haswell.   

The council established a Stakeholder Reference Group in 2024 to ensure that progress was informed by the perspectives and insights of the community and other key stakeholders, and the group comprises of a diverse range of stakeholder representatives, including three community members.  

Northern Grampians Shire Council will now focus on the making the most of the anticipated construction timeframe and its future integrated service model and operations with the Stakeholder Reference Group. This review is expected to be completed July 2024 to guide the future of early years services in St Arnaud.  

In 2022, Northern Grampians Shire Council was selected by the Victorian Government as one of the first local government areas to have the ‘Best Start, Best Life’ reforms rolled out. Council was successful in receiving funding for a 66-place modular building. At the November 2023 Council meeting a decision was made to rule out Market Square (adjoining the existing Early Learning Centre (ELC)) as an option for the new modular kindergarten buildings.   

For further information contact:  

Media & Communications – Lauren Shipman  

E-mail: lauren.shipman@ngshire.vic.gov.au  


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