Speech: Bomaderry High School Flood Damage

Speech: Bomaderry High School Flood Damage Main Image

26 February 2020

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (10:54):  We all know about the devastating fires we have endured, but after the fires came the floods. Last week I visited Bomaderry High School to check on the damage the floods have caused. The school was closed for three days, and every block has sustained some form of damage. To put it simply, I was shocked and appalled at the state of the school. Being a mother myself, I felt for every parent, every child and every teacher at that school for the horrible conditions they are enduring every day. I saw how the ceilings were crumbling and falling to the floor, luckily with no children or teachers underneath. There is clear water damage in so many classrooms, old and new. I saw waterlogged asbestos tile underlay, some still with water that hadn't dried up a week later. The school's E block is completely out of operation—16 classrooms. Students have been forced to take classes in the council's indoor sports centre across the road, an extremely disruptive and difficult task for students and teachers alike.

Flooding is no new event at this school. That was clear from the extensively patched ceilings, walls and floors. The cause of the problems is clear: the buildings have just reached their use-by date. The roofs and gutters are old and simply not fit for purpose. But the solution so far has been to patch and then patch again. You'll have to excuse this next part, Deputy Speaker, but the worst part about my visit, my biggest concern at the school, was the smell—of damp, of possums and of their excrement, which was even dripping down the walls. It was horrendous—a health risk, no doubt—and simply distressing to think that this is how our kids spend their days and this is what our teachers have to work in. Many parents at the school are rightly distressed at the impact the school's condition is having on their children's education, health and wellbeing. The P&C are at the end of their tether and sick of the patches and the worry about what is lurking under the carpets and in the ceiling.

Two weeks ago I visited a fire-impacted school in Broulee with the education minister. It was absolutely wonderful to reach out across the aisle on something as important as that. So I offered a similar bipartisan visit to Bomaderry high to the member for Wannon and his New South Wales counterpart so they can see what our kids are learning in. I want to work with the government on a long-lasting solution to this problem, because our kids deserve better than a patch job.