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We won't be bullied, say Ipswich groups

BATTLE LINES: Bundamba Sub-Section Naval Association of Australia members (from left) Bill Krause, Fred Kirby, Gary Rankin, Ron Baker, Mary Kirby and Kurt Geipel refuse to leave the former Blackstone State School.
BATTLE LINES: Bundamba Sub-Section Naval Association of Australia members (from left) Bill Krause, Fred Kirby, Gary Rankin, Ron Baker, Mary Kirby and Kurt Geipel refuse to leave the former Blackstone State School. David Nielsen

MEMBERS of the Naval Association in Ipswich are again preparing to go into battle.

This latest conflict will be fought on land and much closer to home than previous fights, against an enemy that refuses to negotiate.

The former Blackstone State School is the battleground and the enemy is its owner, the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE).

Three tenants at the school - the Bundamba Sub-Section Naval Association of Australia, Ipswich Genealogical Society and the Ipswich Historical Society - were told in a letter from DETE in August to vacate the property by January 10 to enable the department to "dispose" of the property.

Genealogical society members moved most of their records and equipment out today (Jan 11) after DETE threatened to bring in police to evict them.

Naval association president Ron Baker said his members and the valuable war memorabilia in their safekeeping were staying put.

"We're staying because we have nowhere to go," Mr Baker said. "We're sticking it out, working on the fact that we were told by the previous government that we had the place till June.

"I'm quite prepared to test it in court. If we need to generate people power, we will.

"I'm quite prepared to test it in court. If we need to generate people power, we will.

"This is a drop-in centre. We have six fully trained welfare officers who work from here."

This is another blow for the naval association which lost everything two years ago in the flooding at Goodna.

DETE's executive director Vince White told the QT that his statement made in December was still valid.

"The department is progressing with the disposal of the former Blackstone State School site in accordance with whole of government land policies," Mr White said.

"Notice to vacate letters were provided to the community groups occupying the former Blackstone State School in August 2012.

This was sufficient notice to enable these groups to make other accommodation arrangements.

"This was sufficient notice to enable these groups to make other accommodation arrangements."

Ipswich Historical Society president Ian Wilson said he would remain at the school in the hope that the property could be saved for community groups.

"I'm not impressed with (DETE) throwing everyone out," he said.

Ipswich Genealogical Society secretary Audrey Dillon said the society moved into the former school a year ago on the understanding that the lease was valid till June 2013, and that an extension of that lease would be negotiated.

"The new (state) government just cancelled the lease," Ms Dillon said. "We've all tried to ring or send letters to the Education Department and they refuse to talk to us.

"The numbers they gave us to ring, you leave a message and no one gets back."

"The numbers they gave us to ring, you leave a message and no one gets back."

Preparing for a move, the genealogical society has found six months' temporary storage for its records and equipment.

"I am totally frustrated that we haven't been able to show the government what we've been doing," Ms Dillon said. "Ipswich, a heritage city, is not interested in its true heritage.

"We've got records of pioneers who worked to create the city of today.

"We're preserving history for the next generations.

"The society will be temporarily out of action, sadly."

Ms Dillon still holds out hope that Ipswich City Council will buy the property - valued at close to $500,000 - as it did the former Bremer High School.

Some of the old Blackstone school buildings date back to 1887 and could form the nucleus of an historical village.

Topics:  blackstone state school, ipswich genealogical society, ipswich historical society, naval association


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