Tuesday, 12 November 2019 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Page 8445/8446
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:24): Today, I would like to talk about the Mid North Christian College at Port Pirie, which was established while I was Mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council. When I first heard about this school, a lady came in to see me and asked if I could help her establish a new Christian school in Port Pirie. It is not every day you have somebody come into the community and ask to start a school. I did not take it very seriously to start off with, but after about three months she came back. She was persistent and she had some more direction and opportunities. From there, it just grew and within a two-year period we had a new Christian college in Port Pirie.
This school is R-12 and currently has an enrolment of just over 300 students. The school is interdenominational and Christians from many faiths attend this school, and they have no problems whatsoever. Whilst the school is growing and improving, I would like to touch on their aviation academy, which is proving to have great results. This aviation program is open for applications from any student who has a desire to enter the aviation industry.
The program not only is open to people in the electorate of Frome but gets applicants from all over regional South Australia, all of whom are billeted through the college. The program provides a SACE-accredited course of study to students in years 10 and 11, helping them gain invaluable insight into the aviation industry. The program runs for one week every term for two years. As I said earlier, billeting is available with local host families.
Due to its demanding nature, aviation is an industry that is short on applicants and people being able to facilitate it. However, this college offers a variety of opportunities. Some students may want to be challenged working at a high level of competency, while others may want to be a recreational pilot. Some students may even see this course as the start of a fruitful career.
There are numerous students who attend from all over regional South Australia. Only last week, I attended the graduation of all the students who have achieved their certificates. I must mention that Clayton Agnew not only took out every award that was presented on the day but also achieved an apprenticeship with an aviation firm in Alice Springs.
The academy has had many great successes. Just recently, as you are aware, Mr Speaker, three F111 aircraft flew over Adelaide and also over the birthplaces of the pilots. One of those pilots began his training at the Mid North Christian College at Port Pirie. Can you imagine getting in one of those planes? I have spoken to this particular lad, and he says that once he gets into the cockpit the adrenaline is absolutely fantastic. The controls are all over the place—and there are many, many controls. He said, ‘Once you start pulling the thrusters back and you are actually going back into your seat, the feeling is unexplainable. It’s unlike anything in this world.’
Many, many more have started their dream at this college, and many are now pilots for commercial airlines. I understand there are a couple who are even in the United States Air Force. The students are ably supported by the very dedicated teachers who cover all aspects of any items that will allow these students to better their career opportunities.
With this great success story, I have encouraged the Port Pirie Regional Council to approach potential aviation training schools to better utilise the existing Port Pirie aerodrome which, for those who do not know, was a training facility for the Royal Australian Air Force in the Second World War, with over 4,000 airmen training out there. However, the Port Pirie Regional Council consider any opportunity to establish such a facility to complement the aviation academy as a low priority only.
Despite their direction and vision, I will not be deterred and will work to get better opportunities to complement the Mid North Christian College aviation academy. This college is currently undertaking vast improvements with not only their curriculum and its buildings but also extra classrooms being put in to increase the size of the aviation academy to enable them to attract more young kids from across all of South Australia. The aviation side of the college will be a major part of that expansion.
They also have a couple of aircraft that were donated. They pull these aircraft down and rebuild them. They have had to manufacture one of their own wings because one of the wings was not working well. I compliment the Mid North Christian College on what they are doing and look forward to helping them achieve greater success for the aviation kids.