Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2010) . . Page.. 2135 ..
Schools—adverse health reactions
MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, it has come to my attention that three students from Evatt primary school have recently developed adverse health reactions since moving into the new funded BER building. Whilst reactions were not life threatening and were restricted to skin irritations and headaches, it is still very concerning. What mechanisms are in place to record and monitor any adverse health reactions that children, teachers and staff have within ACT government schools?
MR BARR: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. In terms of immediate responses, obviously at the school level, they would then be reported through to the school network leaders, who have a role within the Department of Education and Training. There are four network leaders for the different regions of the city—two north of the lake and two south of the lake. So there is an appropriate reporting mechanism for the school principal to advise the school network leader. In this instance, as it would relate to a capital works project, the capital works area of the department would then become involved.
I am happy, of course, given that Ms Hunter has raised this matter in the chamber, to provide further information to the Assembly once the department’s response is concluded and to update the Assembly on how the department intends to respond to this particular incident.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary?
MS HUNTER: Minister, what policies and procedures are in place during and after the painting, laying of carpets or installation of other fixtures and furnishings that have off-gassing implications or issues such as strong odours and fumes?
MR BARR: Of course, there are a range of policies and procedures that are outlined on the department’s website in relation to the issues that the member raises. There are also, in relation to any construction project, a range of other requirements and regulations a bit more on the planning and building side of the equation. They are all publicly available and Ms Hunter can peruse them at her leisure.
MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: Through you, Mr Speaker: minister, what particular steps are taken with new buildings to ensure that there are not toxic emissions with the furniture and fit-out? This is not the first time that this has been raised with you, as the minister. What have you done since it was last raised?
MR BARR: Yes, I am aware this was the subject of a motion in this place on private members’ day. The department has sought to respond to that motion and, indeed, to the issues that were raised as part of that. There are, of course, a range of policies and procedures that are in place and that relate, as I say, to not only projects that are