Australia’s school alarm system failures ‘making kids vulnerable’

AUSTRALIA – Continual school alarm system failures are leaving schools and students “vulnerable to crime”, leaked emails from the education department in Australia show.

In one incident, a fire caused by an electrical fault in Galston High, New South Wales, went undetected for two hours and caused more than US $2 million in damage.

A January email from education department official David Darke said: “Communications appear to be down across the state with multiple GPRS fails. Communications are not being received from most schools across the state and what information is being received is not restoring.”

Opposition education spokesman Linda Burney said “billions of dollars worth of school property” was “at risk”.

“Alarm systems at approximately 1800 schools … are regularly falling to connect to a central security unit in ­Western Sydney which is ­supposed to monitor fires and break-ins,” Ms Burney said.

“In a number of incidents uncovered by the opposition, the system failure has left all NSW schools unmonitored for entire weekends at a time, with security staff unaware if there was a break-in or fire.

“How is it that in 2015 a fire can rage for hours on end in a school without being detected?

“Missing-in-action Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has serious questions to answer about the student safety and ­billions of dollars of school property at risk under his watch.”

A department spokesman for Mr Piccoli yesterday said: “It is not appropriate to release specific information about school alarm systems as it may compromise the level of ­security that is able to be ­provided to our schools.

“The Department’s suite of security strategies is continuing to ensure that schools are the safest places for our students.”

From The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, Australia