A Stawell bus operator who has been in the industry for over 50 years has shared his thoughts on proposed changes to the regional and rural school bus network at a Victorian parliamentary inquiry.
Sandlants Buses owner and operator Graeme Sandlants was invited to present at the Parliament of Victoria parliamentary inquiry on its first days of public hearing on Tuesday July 27.
As part of the presentation Mr Sandlants was given around 10 minutes to present before he received questions for a further 15-20 minutes.
Mr Sandlants said he decided to take up the invitation to speak because he felt a responsibility for Stawell and surrounding regions to be represented in the inquiry.
"They invited me as a bus operator to present at the hearing and I just thought it was important that we did because we have been involved in the industry for a while," he said.
"There is a range of issues around the state. It is different here to say around Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and so I felt it was important our smaller areas were heard.
"My idea is to have them (passengers) all screened before they get on the school buses because we have to protect our kids, we have a responsibility to that."
Victoria's Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee are holding the inquiry to discuss the possibility of expanding the services of the school bus program to make it easier for the general public to access in regional Victoria, where public transport is less available.
In his presentation, Mr Sandlants explained why the rural school bus programs is important to students and families as well as his concerns about the program.
"Allowing shared use of the school buses with ad hoc adults, who may not be known to the driver or operator, opens a range of risks that may compromise the high standard of child safety the current arrangements provide," he said.
"I have a duty of care to ensure that safe travel is available on Sandlants school buses."
"I understand the discussion about enabling former students to continue to use the school bus system to enhance their education and personal future development, which on the surface is complementary with the objectives of the country school bus system.
"However, this still has to be controlled andregulated with care to ensure we maintain the high standard of child safety the current arrangements provide"
The inquiry has received 100 public submissions and is due to table a final report to Parliament by November 30.
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