Only 3 per cent of Victorian state schools were asbestos-free at the start of last year, according to audits revealing the prevalence of the toxic material.
But the Andrews Government insisted it would still meet its election promise of eradicating the dangerous substance from all schools by 2020.( Glen Park only has a small amount of asbestos in the eves of our old building which has been undisturbed, and shall remain so, since I've been at the school.it needs to just be left alone)
It has identified high-risk asbestos in almost a third of the state's schools and removed it.
An analysis of asbestos audits obtained by the Opposition through Freedom of Information early last year, reveal that just 39 of 1440 audited schools - or nearly 3 per cent - were asbestos-free.
The Andrews government set aside $42 million in last year's budget to demolish or replace asbestos-riddled portables, has almost finished auditing all schools and will remove the material during works to modernise 67 schools.
It has also rolled out a training program for school staff on how to manage asbestos.
Education Minister James Merlino "I acknowledge there is no quick fix to this problem, but we won't stick our heads in the sand like the former government, and are working hard towards our goal of asbestos free schools."
But Bruce Armstrong, an emeritus professor at the University of Sydney's school of public health, said it was unlikely students and teachers would receive health benefits from the removal of asbestos cement products.
He chaired a committee in Western Australia which concluded there was no material hazard from the asbestos sheeting that is prevalent in schools.
But he acknowledged it was an emotive issue and its removal could "alleviate public anxiety".
He said people struggled to distinguish between workplace exposure to asbestos which led to deaths and asbestos prevalent in everyday life.
Removing asbestos cement products could in fact aggravate the situation by exposing workers, he said.
What makes asbestos toxic? Asbestos is not generally considered dangerous unless it is exposed and its fibres can be inhaled.
Is all asbestos toxic? Asbestos poses varying degrees of threat. High-priority asbestos may be friable or crumble easily and can be located in a boiler, fan or in pipework and require immediate removal. Asbestos in less accessible areas, may simply need to be sealed off and inspected regularly.
How much will it cost? So far, the government has spent $42 million.
What was promised? Labor promised to remove asbestos from 1200 schools by 2020 under an ambitious $100 million plan.
How is asbestos removed? Asbestos contractors removing the substance restrict access to asbestos, or remove the substance altogether outside of school hours.
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