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Castle Hill High Asbestos

SafeWork NSW has initiated legal action against the NSW Education Department over an asbestos scandal at Castle Hill High School following results of an inquiry which began in 2022.

A spokesman for SafeWork told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News: “On the 15th February 2024, SafeWork NSW filed charges in the District Court of NSW against the New South Wales Department of Education.

The charges were filed under sections 19(1)/32, 19(1)/33 and 19(2)/33 of the Work Health and Safety Act (NSW) 2011.

They relate to alleged failures by the Department to discharge its health and safety duties to workers and other persons between April 2015 and October 2018 regarding asbestos issues at Castle Hill High School. As the matter is before the court no further information can be provided at this time.”

Allegations that positive reports of asbestos found at Castle Hill High School in 2016 were falsely reported to staff and the school community as negative were raised by Castle Hill MP Ray Williams in 2022.

He said staff had been complaining for several years about white dust and fibers falling from the ceiling, the positive test results weren’t revealed to staff until May 11, 2020. Parents were notified a few days later. Remediation work was carried out in 2020.

The MP’s claims were investigated by the Department of Education and SafeWork NSW.

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A Department of Education spokesman said: “The health, safety, and wellbeing of students and staff are our highest priorities. We have cooperated fully with SafeWork NSW throughout its investigations and will continue to do so. We will also continue to consult independent experts and relevant regulators on the best course of action when managing and remediating asbestos in schools.”

The spokesman said the Department of Education has made significant improvements to asbestos management as part of a detailed review it initiated.

Meanwhile one local school was closed to students last week after the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) confirmed the presence of bonded asbestos in mulch at St Luke’s Catholic College, Marsden Park.

Testing of recycled mulch laid at public parks, supermarkets and schools started on January 10th with more than 800 sites tested. Since 20th February there have been more than 40 positive tests returned including St Lukes at Marsden Park, Riverstone Sports Centre and St John of God Hospital Richmond.

A statement from the hospital on its social media said the contaminated mulch was located within the recently landscaped gardens around the hospital’s redevelopment site.

“The work site has been fully secured throughout the development and not accessible by patients, visitors or caregivers. NSW Health advises bonded, or non-friable asbestos, is considered low risk to human health and the environment.

Our priority is the safety of our caregivers and patients, and we are working closely with our construction partners who are taking all necessary steps as directed by the EPA. The area will remain securely fenced until the necessary remediation works are complete.”

The NSW Government has established an Asbestos Taskforce to co-ordinate government agencies and assist in prioritising sites considered of highest risk to the public.

The EPA says negative results have been returned for 798 sites since 20th February. To find out more visit

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