Far north members secure housing safety improvements
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 7, 8 October 2021, page no.17
QTU members in the state’s far north have acted to ensure the safety of teachers, their families and the students they teach.
Travel to the northern most point of Queensland and you will find yourself in the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), a region made up of five Indigenous communities: three Aboriginal communities - Alau (Umagico), Injinoo and New Mapoon - and two Saibai Islander communities - Bamaga and Seisia.
Unfortunately, 2021 has seen a spike in youth crime across the Far North Queensland region, and the NPA is no exception. I received a call from Leanne Fox, principal at the Northern Peninsula Area State College (NPASC), informing me that, due to ongoing criminal and WHS incidences impacting upon teacher housing – including breaking and entering, car theft, property vandalism and personal property theft – QTU members were not feeling supported nor safe.
NPASC is made up of three campuses: Bamaga Junior and Senior and Injinoo. There are 65 teachers across the three sites and 697 students, 98 per cent with a language background other than English. Like in any rural or remote area, teachers complete their service and return to their preferred location.
Members requested a directive to stop work unless the WHS security measures and timeframes below were met by the Department of Education to ensure the health and safety of school staff and students. An immediate response was requested from the department, with timeframes for consideration of QTU members on works to be completed.
- All Government Employee Housing (GEH)/department properties to have dead locks installed to all external doors.
- A key audit and simultaneous actioning of the identified required work by a locksmith; until completed.
- Security sensor lighting to be installed/repaired at all entry points to all properties.
- Policy reviewed to allow residents to be permitted to install security to properties with recording capability should they choose.
- Crim Safe standard security on ALL windows and doors.
- Street lighting installed in Sagaukaz Street (department land at the rear of the Bamaga Secondary Campus).
- Automated security gate to The Plantation.
- Automated security gates to both ends of the department teacher residences.
- Entrance to “donga” residence reconfigured to ensure they are inside new gated compound
- 1.8m/2.1m GEH standard fencing installed around the perimeter of all housing.
- NBN satellite infrastructure installed to all properties so there is connectivity to access emergency services when required.
- Annual audit of all security measures to housing to ensure upkeep and follow-through on issues identified (local QBuild presence/foreman to be ongoing for consistency and project management).
- Increased number of security guards with a new designated permanent residence.
- Lockable garages that are suitable for 4WD/high vehicles to suit geographic area.
The department responded within the agreed timeframe and action is well underway. Members meet fortnightly via Teams with the regional director, assistant regional director and an infrastructure manager and receive in-time updates.
When members come together and take action, the results are limitless!