Page 498 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 19 February 2020

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training, and I am very pleased with the work that ESA does with the Rural Fire Service.

Can I congratulate them again for the fantastic work that they have done, along with the rest of the ESA over this recent period—an incredible challenge for all the ACT—and our ESA has outshone the rest of Canberra. Canberra has supported them. In all the forums that I have gone to there has been not one word of negativity about the work that ESA has done. Let me congratulate them again on behalf of all Canberrans.

Education—school cleaners

MS CODY: My question is to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development. Minister, what is the government doing within the education portfolio to ensure secure, good jobs for Canberrans?

MS BERRY: I thank Ms Cody for the question and note her interest in supporting good and fair workplace conditions, particularly for low paid workers in the ACT.

Within my portfolio responsibilities I have been particularly focused on improving the employment conditions of government school cleaners engaged by contracted service providers. The ACT government welcomed 272 school cleaners into the public service on 1 February this year. These workers were previously employed by private contractors. The government made the important decision last year to insource school cleaning. It became clear to the government that achieving the government’s high standard was unlikely to occur through an outsourced service.

Our new cleaning teams are working hard to keep the ACT’s 88 public schools and more than 132 individual sites all over Canberra in a good state for learning and teaching. In the coming weeks, specialty cleaning teams will come online to provide additional services across schools such as floor treatments, chewing gum removal and specialised carpet cleaning. These teams will also help get schools ready ahead of events like open nights to ensure that each school is presented in its best light.

A range of new cleaning equipment is being delivered to schools to improve the ongoing nature of cleaning services. These include scrubbers and buffers to better maintain hard floors, broad area vacuum machines to create efficiencies in some schools, and trialling some new initiatives to improve cleaning results.

I was so happy to join our school cleaners to hand out their uniforms a few weeks ago. These uniforms provided a sense of identity amongst the school cleaners, and their sense of pride in becoming ACT public service employees was incredibly moving.

MS CODY: Minister, what does this change mean for our school cleaners?

MS BERRY: Insourced cleaning will not only benefit our schools but improve the lives and wellbeing of cleaners through secure and decent employment. The government believes that all workers are entitled to fair, safe working conditions and secure employment wherever possible. The government is proudly taking on responsibility for providing this to public school cleaners.

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