Page 3939 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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address the cost of repairing damage done to the schools and to provide security to prevent further attacks.

It is important that the community understand the extent of some of the attacks that we are seeing on our government school buildings. From graffiti sprawled across walls to destruction of buildings through ram-raid attacks, vandals caused, on average, just over $9,000 of damage to every one of the 96 schools in the ACT; that is averaged out. Most of the damage to schools is usually broken windows, but certainly plenty of fixtures and fittings are destroyed. For example, in one case a single incident of water damage to a local primary school cost more than $90,000 to repair; an arson attack on another school cost around $46,000.

We are constantly reviewing our security measures to ensure that we are protecting the schools as best we can. To this end we have recently decided to make changes to security measures at our schools and these include improving the external lighting and providing fences. I know members would have seen fences erected around a number of schools. Where fences have been erected, we are seeing a noticeable decline in the level of vandalism at those schools. We have put in place alarms and upgraded electronic security systems and, if a school proves to be repeatedly targeted, we put in place random security patrols or guards.

The installation of security fences at school sites is proving to be a major deterrent to vandals and thieves. As I said, recent advice is that there has been a reduction in the general level of attacks and vandalism on schools as a result of the installation of the fences. Schools have also advised the department of education that fencing resulted in significant cost savings in the repair of vandalism damage and the clean-up of rubbish. For example, since a fence has been installed at one primary school, there have been no incidences of break-ins. Another school suffered approximately $75,000 worth of damage from vandalism and theft in 2003 and, since the boundary fence to the premises was installed in 2004, there have been only two incidences of suspected criminal behaviour, but both attempts to access the school were unsuccessful. While the department is carrying out major works, many of the schools are using their own funds to make minor changes to security measures as well.

These upgrades will continue. In the coming months, $150,000 will be spent to erect a fence at a local college. A further $270,000 will be provided to install security fencing at a high school and primary school in Tuggeranong. We are also undertaking a security audit of all schools. You can see from that advice that vandalism on our school buildings is a serious issue. A lot of money is being taken away from schools and from the department’s repairs and maintenance budget to keep abreast of these attacks—not just to fix the normal wear and tear on school buildings but also to deal with attacks on schools, which should not have occurred in the first place.

We are, of course, working cooperatively with the police to address those incidences when they occur and, of course, with the community, who are always very vigilant in contacting the police, the government or the school itself if they see any attacks on a school. That applies particularly to those people who live very close to a school. We have also been looking at how to provide a security control program in down time—in periods of school holidays and during out-of-school hours.

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