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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1628..


Motion agreed to.

ACT WorkCover-school cleaning services audit

MS DUNDAS (12.09): I move:

That this Assembly calls on the ACT Government to table the ACT WorkCover audit of school cleaning services by end of sitting on 8 May 2003.

Mr Speaker, I believe that all members would be aware of the recent public debate about cleaning standards in public schools. Both the ACT council of P&Cs and the LHMWU raised concerns about the standard of school cleaning under the school-based management regime.

I have no doubt that every person here would agree that adequate hygiene standards in schools are essential, because the health of children is at risk if hygiene is neglected. We had quite recently from the Health Committee a report on their investigation into the health of school-age children. They flagged in their report the need for high hygiene standards in our schools to ensure that our children are getting their education in buildings of a clean standard.

Prior to 1997, the department of education administered cleaning contracts for our public schools. This system ensured a high standard of cleanliness and ensured that the successful tenderers adhered to all legal requirements, such as those relating to wages and occupational health and safety standards.

School-based management was introduced in 1997 in the belief that it would improve flexibility and efficiency at the school level. School cleaning contracts were among the matters delegated to individual principals under this system. It is clear that in some schools at least both cleaning standards and the work conditions of cleaners have suffered as a result.

The government apparently recognised last year the shortcomings in the system and ACT WorkCover was commissioned to audit school cleaning across ACT public schools. The WorkCover report was completed in February 2003 and presented to the department of education the same month. The unions were led to believe that the report would be made public very soon after it was presented to the department of education. Instead, it seems that the report has been stuck in a bottom drawer.

The motion I have moved today is quite simple. It just calls on the government to honour its commitment to allow the community to see where the problems are with school cleaning services and how they can be fixed. The WorkCover report is already complete and we understand that prompt action is needed. I urge this Assembly to support the motion to help get the ball rolling, to have all information out in the open, in public, so that we can see what WorkCover has said about the hygiene of ACT public schools and that we can start to develop ways of addressing the problems that are there and move on in a spirit of cooperation because, as I said, the cleanliness of schools is something that we all agree needs to be maintained at a high standard. I believe that having the report tabled in the Assembly-I have put in the motion that


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