Asbestos Management

The Department is committed to all Victorian government schools being safe and healthy learning and working environments, which includes a comprehensive Asbestos Management Program that is governed by a strict set of legislative and compliance requirements.

By law, schools are required to maintain, review and revise a detailed register identifying all asbestos-containing materials on their sites. School Asbestos Coordinators are required to inspect these materials quarterly and update their registers accordingly.

Each school has an asbestos management plan that outlines procedures and requirements, as well as clarifying roles and responsibilities, for managing asbestos-containing materials and any incidents that may arise.

The Department also engages qualified specialists to regularly audit schools to identify the condition of asbestos.

Any asbestos that could become dangerous is removed. Removal works take place in strict accordance with the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety legal framework and environmental regulations.

The Victorian School Building Authoritymanages the Department’s Asbestos Removal Program.

The Department also removes all asbestos identified during capital improvement works and transfers of relocatable classrooms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral that was used extensively up until the late 1980s in building and consumer products such as:

  • thermal insulation
  • fibro cement sheeting
  • vinyl floor coverings and adhesives
  • electrical switchboards
  • insulators and fittings
  • dozens of types of textiles

It was phased out from the mid-1980s and eventually banned in 2003.

Asbestos fibres can cause serious illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. There is no known safe exposure level of asbestos fibres.

Fortunately, exposure levels are now drastically lower than in the past, which has significantly reduced the risk of developing asbestos-related disease.

When can asbestos become dangerous?

ording to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, health risks associated with asbestos-containing materials in good condition or undisturbed are extremely low.

All known asbestos in Victorian government schools is considered to be low risk.

In the majority of cases, it is safer to leave asbestos-containing materials fixed or installed, and periodically review their condition.

It is only when asbestos materials are disturbed- typically during demolitions and renovations - that the potential for release of asbestos fibres increases.

How is asbestos managed in Victoria’s government schools?

To ensure Victorian schools are safe, asbestos management in schools is governed by a strict set of legislative and compliance requirements.

Under these requirements, principals are the local managers of Departmental facilities and are accountable for the safe management of schools. Principals are best placed to manage and respond to health and safety issues at the local level including identifying and monitoring asbestos.

Schools are required by law to maintain, review and revise a detailed Asbestos Register identifying all asbestos present in the school.

In addition, a school’s Asbestos Management Plan outlines the responsibilities, procedures, protocols and systems for effective asbestos management and the minimisation of associated health risks.

How do I know if my child’s school is affected?

Schools must update an Asbestos Register each time a visual inspection of asbestos containing material is conducted – which is at least every three months.
The register must also be updated each time building works are to be carried out.
Contact your school to view the register.

How does the Department support schools to manage asbestos?

In addition to schools updating their own Asbestos Register, qualified specialists employed by the Department regularly audit schools to identify the quality and condition of asbestos.

From late 2013, labels are progressively being placed in schools with known asbestos-containing material to remind people to contact school reception prior to undertaking any building works, to ensure they have up-to-date information from the school’s asbestos register.

How else are schools supported?

The Department provides comprehensive training to key school staff such as principals and asbestos coordinators.

Schools can also call a 24-hour asbestos help desk to register an asbestos incident, obtain advice and get further information.

When is asbestos removed from schools?

Asbestos material which has the potential to become dangerous is removed out of school hours by expert asbestos removalists. This ensures the ongoing safety of staff and students.

Asbestos material which has the potential to become dangerous is removed out of school hours by expert asbestos removalists. This ensures the ongoing safety of staff and students.

In addition, the Department removes all asbestos identified during works for its capital improvement program and relocatables transfer program.