The Guardian July 16, 2003


Unsafe, unhealthy, unsightly

Staff and parents at a small primary school on Brisbane's southside have 
raised concerns regarding the inadequate and unhygienic facilities at their 
workplace. Problems relate to the toilet blocks for both staff and 
students, the lack of adequate sick room facilities, staffroom facilities 
that do not meet minimum standards for workplace amenities and white-ant 
infested administration areas. Staff invited the Queensland Teachers' Union 
and Education Department officials to visit the school during Workplace 
Health and Safety Week to see for themselves the extent of the neglect.

First Aid facilities are housed in the staffroom. Injured and sick students 
are treated in the same room as staff who are trying to eat lunch. A bin 
beside the sink often contains blood-contaminated items and other body 
products.

As there is no sick room, children who are ill are forced to lie on sick 
beds which are located in the main thoroughfare of the administration area. 
The closest available toilet is located in the main toilet area 80 metres 
away.

Cramped conditions

Conditions throughout the Administration Block are cramped, including the 
teacher aide room, which houses four teacher-aides in a total area off two 
sq metres. The room has not undergone renovations following a white ant 
infestation.

There are holes in the door from recent white ant treatment. The 
Principal's office, directly above the teacher-aides room was also affected 
by the termite infestation. The door frame of his door has been eaten away. 
He has been waiting for a new door frame and door since the start of the 
year.

The original toilets constructed in the 60's for the Junior and Senior Boys 
has been closed since January. It is deemed too costly to refurbish. Years 
of urine leaching into the concrete have created an unbearable odour in the 
entire block.

The Infant Boy's toilet, accommodates up to 200 boys a day. This urinal, 
together with six pedestals, constitute the only faculty available to all 
boys in the school from Years 1 to 7.

The Infant Girl's toilets are relatively new, having been built 20 years 
ago. Due to slippage that has occurred under the block, the pipes have been 
severed and effluent has been flowing directly into the ground.

Ironically the school's motto is "Only the Best".

Because of the inactivity of the Education Department, QTU representative 
Belinda Uhlmann and the Workplace Health and Safety Officer Meredith 
Houston contacted the Workplace Health and Safety office about the poor 
conditions.

They have referred the complaint to the Department, which, after years of 
procrastination, has recently advised that the school will receive $300,000 
for a new toilet block as a result of the increase in capital works in the 
State Budget.

The school will continue to seek additional funds to provide the quality of 
facilities that neighbouring schools enjoy.

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Acknowledgement to Queensland Teachers' Journal

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