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Waiting game - no relief for Brisbane school where kids are afraid of the toilets

Opinion

With flash new schools being built in communities around the state, it seems unthinkable that at one Brisbane school the students avoid using the dilapidated toilets, writes Rebecca Levingston

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How flush is Queensland?

Guess we’re all about to find out when Treasurer Cameron Dick hands down the state budget next week.

There’s a Brisbane school where parents would like to know just how flush the Queensland coffers are with cash… because they’d really like something new. Toilets.

In fact the school P&C has put up a petition quietly asking the parents to help them convince Education Queensland they could do with a loo upgrade.

They’re too shy to talk about it publicly. So, with their blushing permission, allow me to give you a tour through this school’s single toilet block.

The school was built in the 1960s and the toilet block is just as old, according to the P&C. Replacement would be great, but they’d take any kind of upgrade.

Everyone knows a sad loo the second you walk into it. First there’s the smell. You know it, I know it, nobody wants to breathe it in. It’s worse in Summer at this school.

Debilitating is the word parents use to describe it. Some kids refuse to use the loos and “hold on” until they get home.

Blocked urinals are frequent and temporarily solved by teachers who probably don’t recall the plumbing component of their teaching degrees. Bless the teachers for doing their best at unblocking.

Flakey paint on the walls is matched by weathered cisterns. You know that crumbly flecked plastic on the worst loo you used that time – yep, welcome to primary school.

The floor surface is cracked. Parents have concerns there may be asbestos in the toilets. Some basins are broken.

The tapware is old and doesn’t cater for students who have a physical disability. They require one hand to hold them on while you wash the other. Remember we’re talking about primary school-aged students.

It’s a sensitive situation, with parents not wanting to cast the school in a poor light, but also keen to draw attention to an unpleasant and unsafe situation.

The P&C previously fundraised to pay for air-conditioning prior to the cool schools program so they’re not averse to pitching in, but they’d like some help for the WC since the state didn’t have to spring for the AC.

Here’s the kicker. The school is used as a polling station for state and federal elections.

Imagine, for a moment, any member of parliament accepting toilets in their electorate office, or indeed in parliament house, that stoop to the standard these children are using. It would’t happen, and that’s fair enough too.

So, given the reluctance of the school community to draw too much attention to the smallest room in the school, perhaps this is a big opportunity for all loos to get a look in.

Let me invite all Queensland MPs to do a bathroom check of their local state schools.

Check the state of the cisterns and the smell of the block. Push the buttons and while you’re washing your hands, think about whether you need to unblock the flow of funds.

Queensland schools shouldn’t have to petition to have decent toilets should they?

Guess it depends on how flush the Treasurer is feeling.

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