January 21, 2020

Read our latest news articles:

2 March - Marshmead Site Visit

4 March - MLC Appeal for Mallacoota

Updated 12 February 2020

Whilst bushfires are no longer headline news and flooding is the latest issue to be reported upon in the media, there has been quite a lot of activity at our remote sites, MLC Marshmead and MLC Banksia.

I am delighted to advise that there have been no further concerns at our MLC Banksia site. Our Year 11 Outdoor Leader Camp was successfully held onsite last week, and importantly, our first 2020 Year 7 program will head off this Sunday as planned.

However, the situation at Marshmead has been rather different, as fire to the north of Marshmead has continued to threaten the property.  For the last 3 weeks Marshmead has hosted a crew of 16-20 DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) personnel who have worked hard to protect both Marshmead and the surrounding area.

In addition, you may also have read about the team of scientists from Zoos Victoria who were flown in to Marshmead to rescue 15 Eastern Bristlebirds, as their habitat in nearby Howe Flat was under threat.

Even as recently as this past Friday and Saturday, the serious fire threat remained. The below image shows the proximity of the smoke to the campus at the beginning of this month.


The DELWP teams, the CFA and Marshmead staff have worked incredibly hard for over two weeks to ensure the property and surrounds were as prepared as they could have been.

Works included the removal of trees, a large D7 dozer putting in a mineral earth break, fire equipment tested and retested, and exhausting overnight watches. The picture below was taken last Friday 7th February evening, on the beach at Mallacoota.

The image below was taken from Mallacoota, looking toward Marshmead on Saturday morning.



And then, most thankfully, the rain started on Saturday afternoon! At the time of writing, Marshmead has had 81mm of rain since Saturday with the hope of more on the way. 

With the site almost surrounded by areas that have been burnt, it is evident how lucky we are to still have Marshmead.

In further positive news, the majority of our Marshmead staff are now safely staying within the township of Mallacoota.  We hope that they will all be able to return to Marshmead this week, even just for the day.

We recognise that Mallacoota still has a long road of recovery ahead. As a College we are looking and ways and means to support the Mallacoota community.  There are a number of proposals currently being considered and these will be communicated to the MLC community in the coming days.

Importantly, I would like to close this update in repeating my thanks to colleagues who are working tirelessly to support Marshmead, as well as all our Kew colleagues who have taken on additional teaching this term to accommodate the original Term 1 Marshmead students.  As previously mentioned, these students have been reallocated to Terms 2, 3 or 4 so they can all benefit from a full Marshmead term program.

I know all our thoughts remain with all communities across Australia who have been impacted by these unprecedented bushfires and to those members of the emergency services for their ongoing and incredible work in the face of such adversity.  

Wish best wishes,

Diana Vernon


Update 21 January 2020

Thank you again for all of the supportive messages and well wishes you have sent to us over the summer holiday period concerning the bushfire situation and its impact on Marshmead and the Mallacoota community. 

As emailed to all parents today, I wish to advise that the decision has been made to cancel the Marshmead Term 1 program for 2020.  Importantly, all Term 1 students have been reallocated across Terms 2, 3 and 4, to ensure that all Year 9 Marshmead students benefit from a full Marshmead program. 

Our preference has always been to ensure that all our students are able to experience the Marshmead program in full, as we recognise it is of such significance to students, parents and staff. This decision was shared with all our Year 9 parents on Friday, to enable to them to make plans as soon as possible.

In evaluating our options, we considered a number of alternatives, working with our teams at Marshmead and Kew as well as with the local authorities.  However, we will not compromise on the safety of our students or staff and we have to recognise the unprecedented impact the fires have had on the local area. 

There were many variables considered as part of the decision making process including ongoing fire threat, reliance on the Mallacoota community for a range of services as they recover, and significantly, a lack of access to Mallacoota and the Marshmead property due to large portions of the Princes Highway being closed.  As it currently stands, access to Marshmead is only possible via boat. 

However, this does mean our Marshmead colleagues may be able to provide valuable resources to support the Mallacoota community as they begin to return to their homes and commence the recovery process for the town.  In the short-term, we have been able to share our emergency resources with the local community, as needed, and we will continue to work with authorities as to how MLC might best assist. 

I also thank our wonderful Marshmead colleagues, both those who remained in Mallacoota and those who have been working from Kew.  They have shown tremendous care and dedication to monitoring and protecting our site and livestock through this difficult time, as well as commitment to considering options for our 2020 program.  

The support from the MLC community has meant a great deal to the College, and particularly the Marshmead staff team.  We know how many of you are very keen to help. Once Mallacoota is accessible for residents and once the full situation has been assessed, we will be able to share with the MLC community where our collective assistance will be most valued. 

We very much look forward to the start of Term 1 and building our Marshmead experiences for all students throughout 2020.

Best wishes,

Diana Vernon

Update 6 January 2020

Thank you to the members of our MLC community who have continued to share their concern and support for our Marshmead site and the local Mallacoota community.

As you may be aware, last Saturday was forecast as a significant fire danger day in the Mallacoota area and up along the NSW coastline. Whilst other communities have not been so lucky, I am very pleased to be able to report that the Marshmead site remains largely undamaged. Banksia remains in an ‘alert area’, though no immediate action is necessary.

My sincere thanks to two members of our Marshmead team who were given permission by the CFA Incident Controller to visit the Marshmead site today. (This followed an aerial CFA inspection yesterday afternoon, improved visibility, light winds and 5-10mm of rain overnight.)

They report that, whilst there is a great deal of ash and there are burnt embers around the site, the buildings and infrastructure remain intact. However, pasture property on the other side of Mount Marshmead (Dowell Creek) has been partially burnt.

Active fire continues to burn to the north and east of the Marshmead campus. The fire threat will continue in the area for some time with a gradual increase in temperature throughout the week. We are thankful for the few days of calmer conditions, allowing the CFA to tackle the many pockets of fire that continue to burn throughout the area.

As declared by the Victorian Premier, we are currently in a ‘State of Disaster’, across the East and North East of Victoria. We will continue to keep the situation at Marshmead under review and we will keep you and all members of our community informed as we have further reports to share, including the families of our 2020 Term 1 Marshmead students.

Meanwhile, I know it won’t surprise you to hear that we have been overwhelmed with heartfelt communications, via Facebook, email and phone, from many members of the MLC community who have offered support to the Marshmead and Mallacoota communities. The warmth and generosity of our community has been overwhelming.

Of course with the situation still unfolding, we are not currently in a position to be able to assess where our help and support might be most effective. Over the coming weeks we will be in direct contact with members of the Mallacoota community to best understand their needs and thus identify how MLC and members of our community might best provide support. As highlighted by the Victorian Premier yesterday, donations of goods are not being sought by relief agencies at this time. However, the Red Cross, Wildlife Victoria and many charitable organisations are seeking cash donations.

Importantly, I would like to close this update repeating my thanks to colleagues who are working tirelessly to support Marshmead and Banksia and to check the security of these locations. Additionally, I know all our thoughts remain with all communities across Australia who continue to be impacted by these unprecedented bushfires and to those members of the emergency services for their ongoing and incredible work in the face of such adversity.

We will be keeping you updated via Facebook and here on the MLC website on any further news.

With best wishes,

Diana Vernon

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