Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 August 2022) . . Page.. 2147 ..
MS BERRY: I thank Mr Hanson for his question regarding Dickson College. I can happily report today that all of the priority improvement notices have been lifted by WorkSafe, and all of the work that was required under those notices has been completed; however, one of the spaces, which is the theatre at Dickson College, is being refurbished as well as the work that was required to meet the requirements under WorkSafe, so that particular space is closed for further refurbishment.
Unfortunately, Dickson College has had a number of issues with regard to possums who are calling Dickson College their home, and that is leading to some complications around issues with regard to faeces and urine from possums. There is a possum rehoming plan that is being developed, which I understand is being supported by the school community.
With regard to the mould, one of the issues we have been facing across the ACT community, and our schools are not immune to this, is that the increase in wet weather has led to circumstances where mould has increased and grown at a very fast rate, and managing it has become more challenging. However, we have encouraged schools to make sure that they report those issues immediately, where they become known, so that they can be managed immediately. With issues like black mould, if it is not jumped on immediately and resolved, it can spread very quickly, as people will know. As I said, I can very happily report that that notice has been lifted today, and we continue to work with WorkSafe across our schools.
MR HANSON: Minister, why did it take an inspection by WorkSafe ACT for these matters to be addressed?
MS BERRY: I am very pleased to be working with WorkSafe across our schools to ensure that we are meeting the highest standards of work health and safety for our school teachers and staff, as well as our school students. In these circumstances, as I said, we have some complicated issues with regard to possums calling Dickson College their home, and with the issues around black mould because of the wet weather that we have been experiencing in the ACT. However, I say again, we are very happy to meet with WorkSafe. WorkSafe are doing their job, and the ACT government as an employer is also responsible for and has to respond to issues that WorkSafe raise. The Education Directorate are continuing to work very closely with WorkSafe ACT to make sure that we meet those requirements. We want to be leaders in that space, and we are certainly doing our very best to make sure that our schools are safe for everybody.
MR DAVIS: Minister, why is it important that WorkSafe ACT continue to be empowered to inspect ACT public schools, and how does this differ from the approach in other jurisdictions?
MS BERRY: I will respond to that with regard to our working relationship with WorkSafe as far as our schools are concerned. WorkSafe is the responsibility of Minister Gentleman, and so he would be more appropriate to respond to the second part of that question. However, it is important to make sure that our workplaces are safe, and it is important that we have an independent body like WorkSafe operating in our community, both in our government and private sector, to ensure the safety of