Asbestos scare in local schools: Labor demands more transparency

Jodi McKay and Prue Car at Nepean Creative & Performing Arts High School. Photo: Megan Dunn
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A staggering 36 local public schools have been identified as having traces of asbestos, potentially putting children at risk if disturbed.

Alarmingly, six of these schools contain what is considered the most deadly form – ‘friable asbestos’.

The schools containing this include Colyton High School, Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School, Oxley Park Public School, Penrith South Public School, St Marys South Public School and York Public School.

During a Budget Estimates hearing, it was revealed that 2,185 schools have asbestos state-wide, half of which has damages to it.

On Tuesday, State Opposition Leader Jodi McKay and Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car met at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School to call on the State Government to deliver more transparency on the issue.

“I think the most disturbing thing is that there is no plan or timeline to remediate this, they have not told parents, they have not told teachers, so that teachers can keep the children away from where the asbestos is,” Ms Car said.

“Everyone knows that children run around and break things, so the dangerous thing, particularly for the friable asbestos, is when it’s touched it crumbles and that’s when it becomes airborne and causes health hazards.”

Ms McKay said the State Government needs to address the issue better.

“Parents know they are older buildings but they do trust that as parents that they are given the correct information – one, that it’s there and two, how it’s going to be addressed and when and that’s the information that’s not available,” she told the Weekender.

The pair have concerns for the roll-out of the Cooling Classrooms Program, asking where the additional funding will come from if buildings need to be remediated.

Jodi McKay and Prue Car speaking to the Weekender on Tuesday. Photo: Megan Dunn

In a statement, the Department of Education said the health and safety of students and staff remains the absolute highest priority.

“Asbestos is managed in accordance with the Department of Education’s Asbestos Management Plan and Safe Work NSW by licensed and accredited asbestos removalists and occupational hygienists in strict accordance with all applicable legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines,” the statement said.

“At any time friable asbestos is suspected, the Department acts immediately to secure and remediate.”

The State Government has invested $10 million towards asbestos remediation for about 120 public schools throughout 2018/19 and 2019/20.

Colyton High School
Nepean Creative & Performing Arts High School
Oxley Park Pulbic School
Penrith South Public School
St Marys South Public School
York Public School

Braddock Public School
Cambridge Park High School
Cambridge Park Public School
Colyton Public School
Castlereagh Public School
Emu Heights Public School
Emu Plains Public School
Jamisontown Public School
Kemps Creek Public School
Kingswood High School
Kingswood Park Public School
Kingswood Public School
Kingswood South Public School
Leonay Public School
Llandilo Public School
Londonderry Public School
Luddenham Public School
Mulgoa Public School
Orchard Hills Public School
Penrith High School
Penrith Public School
Penrith Valley School
Regentville Public School
St Clair High School
St Clair Public School
St Marys North Public School
St Marys Public School
St Marys Senior High School
Wallacia Public School
Warragamba Public School

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