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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) . . Page.. 3654 ..


because the use of asbestos in building materials was banned in Australia in 2003 and public school construction contracts also prevent the use of unapproved dangerous substances.

Licensed asbestos assessors attended the school on Tuesday, 28 August to collect samples for testing. The Education Directorate received the final testing report from the assessors on the afternoon of Wednesday, 29 August, showing that a small amount of non-friable asbestos-containing material in the form of cement sheet debris had been identified in some garden beds at the school.

The directorate notified WorkSafe ACT of this discovery and ordered sampling and testing of all remaining garden beds at Harrison School. On that day the directorate also engaged its central communications team in anticipation of communications to the school community to be planned for, importantly, in a calm and measured way so as not to cause unnecessary alarm.

All garden beds were declared out of bounds for students from when they returned to school on Thursday, 30 August, and fencing began to be installed to prevent access to the garden beds. The directorate immediately started preparing information for parents, including a letter that was distributed to the school community by email before the end of school on Thursday, 30 August to inform parents and carers of what was happening.

The Education Directorate also posted information about the discovery of asbestos-containing material at Harrison School on the ACT public schools Facebook page on the same day. The Education Directorate organised four guards to be stationed at the school from Thursday evening to prevent access to the garden beds until more fences could be erected.

On Friday, 31 August there was a wet weather day, and students remained indoors during recess and lunch breaks while fencing work was continued. Fencing continued over the weekend, and all internal fences were completed by Monday, 3 September 2018, meaning all internal garden beds were inaccessible to students, staff and visitors to the school grounds.

Ongoing sampling by licensed asbestos assessors of all the remaining garden beds at Harrison School occurred on 30 August, 3 September and 4 September. Information about this, of course, was shared with the regulator, WorkSafe ACT, as it was received by the Education Directorate.

While the sampling and testing were occurring, the directorate was also reviewing construction files and invoices over the past decade to assist with the identification of potential sources of the asbestos-containing material and providing this information to WorkSafe ACT. The final testing report for the samples taken was received by the Education Directorate and provided to WorkSafe ACT on 10 September.

All garden beds at the school were visually assessed for asbestos by licensed asbestos assessors. During this process 55 pieces of cement sheet debris were collected for


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