A $700,000 hydrotherapy pool installed at a southern suburbs public high school has hardly been used since it was finished nearly a year ago.
The Education Department confirmed a 10m by 6m hydrotherapy pool for students with disabilities was completed at Byford Secondary College in June, but it said school staff did not have the training and accreditation to access it until October.
In November, the pool’s heating system had to be removed and replaced after corrosion was detected.
Even though the pool became usable again last month, principal Trevor Hunter said the school did not currently have any students with disabilities who required hydrotherapy.
But he expected students with those needs to enrol in future, now the pool was operational.
One teacher had used the pool in the past two weeks to run three physical education classes for students in education support.
State School Teachers Union president Pat Byrne said that at a time when public schools were crying out for cash, it was difficult to understand why a hydrotherapy pool had been built if the college had no students with disabilities.
“It’s like a hospital without patients,” she said. “If there were no students (needing hydrotherapy) enrolled, how was there deemed to be a need for this facility?
“It is so hard to get resources to get facilities, so here you’ve got a facility and people have put the resources in — that’s fantastic — but it’s not being used.
“It would be unbelievably frustrating as a teacher to have a beautiful facility that no one was using.”
Parent Tracy Hollington, who has been fighting for her son Angus, 13, to have access to the college’s pool while recovering from bone cancer in his leg, said it was ludicrous that a taxpayer-funded facility had been sitting almost unused when it could help students like him.
She said she was told in December that her son did not qualify to use the pool because he did not have a recognised disability, so the school could not access funding.
“My son who attends the school is sitting on the grass watching sport, yet he can’t use the pool that would help his recovery, that’s located at his school,” she said.
Mr Hunter said yesterday that he would be happy for Angus to use the pool as part of his medical recovery but that would need to be done under the supervision of a qualified medical therapist.
“The student’s family may wish to talk to their child’s doctors about arranging this,” he said.
Ms Byrne said it was reasonable for parents to request access for children who could benefit from hydrotherapy.
“It sounds like people are caught up between competing requirements of different bureaucracies,” she said.
WA Council of State School Organisations president Kylie Catto said school funding was limited, so money should be spent wisely.
“We’re trusting the department and the schools to allocate money to priority areas, which that may have been,” she said.