Some of the converted containers that our staff have been living in, for up to six months, may have possible high levels of formaldehyde.
We don't know yet if the converted containers which our people have been living in actually have high levels of formaldehyde or what the health risks are if they do. However, we are not prepared to take any risks with the health and safety of our staff.
That is why last night we contacted all 26 affected staff and directed them to seek alternative accommodation. If alternative accommodation was not possible, they were directed to sleep in the 'breezeway' - a well ventilated part of the complex outside the containers.
Today, all affected staff are no longer living in the converted containers.
A FaHCSIA social worker was last night involved in the process of contacting staff and will be monitoring them today.
Staff today have been asked to seek alternative accommodation at the community level. Where this is not available, staff will be supported to find alternative accommodation at the closest centre so they are able to visit their community on a daily basis. If necessary, staff will be moved to regional centres and fly in/fly out arrangements will be put in place. Alternative options such as mobile homes, caravans are being explored.
FaHCSIA has informed me of the following sequence of events:
FaHCSIA advises that within 10 working days from Monday, all containers should be tested and remediation action taken.
I understand that this is a difficult time for affected staff and their families and we will be providing them with more information as soon as we can.
Their wellbeing, health and safety is my top priority. I want to reassure them that every possible measure will be taken to protect their health and ensure their safety.
The presence of government staff in communities is vital to the effectiveness of the Northern Territory Emergency Response. We will ensure that appropriate alternative accommodation is found so that they can continue their important work with local NT communities.
Affected staff are employed by FaHCSIA, the Department of Employment Education and Workplace Relations and Centrelink.
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