Inner West Independent

WestConnex noise takes toll on HSC students

Families with children sitting the HSC make a racket in protest against "relentless" WestConnex drilling. Photo: Pixabay.

By ELYSIA COOK

Students sitting the HSC locked down in homes near WestConnex construction sites have had their studies affected by “relentless” drilling.

The HSC trial exam period nears its conclusion as Sydney enters its tenth week of lockdown.

On August 11, the NSW government lifted the snap ban on construction, just a week out from the exam period.

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW told the Independent that there had been no change to the Rozelle Interchange’s operating hours since construction had restarted, and they are working on a case-by-case basis with residents to alleviate the impact of construction in the area.

From Monday to Friday, the Interchange’s approved working hours are between 7am and 6pm. WestConnex can function on either side of these hours, “if noise from this work is not predicted to be intrusive.”

The spokesperson said that ongoing construction during lockdown means the infrastructure will be delivered by its originally planned opening in 2023.

Unhelpful headphones

WestConnex construction can go ahead before 7AM or after 6PM if the noise is predicted to not be intrusive. Photo: NSW government.

Leichhardt resident Sarah Feathers told the Independent noise cancelling headphones being made available to students is not even close to enough.

She said WestConnex drilling has meant her son, who is completing year 12, suffers from a lack of sleep and is unable to study effectively.

“He often sleeps in and misses essential online learning lessons.

“Only today they offered to send him a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Unless you can sleep in them, they are going to be of little use. The drilling noise isn’t loud, it just causes the house to shake. Last night framed photos on my mantelpiece were shaken onto the floor. “

Jamie Parker, Member for Balmain, told the Independent that construction hours should be mitigated given the state of Sydney’s lockdown.

“WestConnex will fight tooth and nail before they give anything away, so parents are expected to spend hours negotiating with the project to receive any mitigation.

“I’ve been offering support to a number of families from across the local area who are worse impacted by noise from WestConnex to help them get access to noise cancelling headphones or even temporary relocation during the worst of construction,” he said.

Greens candidate for the Balmain-Baludarri Ward Kobi Shetty told the Independent that noise cancelling headphones fell far short of the mark for students with noise sensitivity.

“I can’t imagine having a child who’s sensitive to noise and living beside the WestConnex work. They really should compensate them enough so that they can live elsewhere or double glaze their houses,” she said.

Consider construction

Feathers believes that schools should be doing more. She said that nothing had been released from her son’s school regarding WestConnex construction.

Parker echoed this sentiment.

“The government hasn’t made any firm commitments about special consideration for students who’ve been impacted by 24/7 construction noise while trying to complete their HSC,” he said.

NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has extended their COVID-19 Special Consideration Program, which now “automatically applies for all performance exams, language oral exams and most major projects.”

“We understand that COVID restrictions have impacted students differently. Across the State, some students have had different levels of access to a quiet place to study or complete exams at home.”

The illness and misadventure program can be accessed through NESA or the student’s school.

NESA told the Independent that it had also launched the Stay Healthy HSC hub, which provides 24/7 study tips and mental health support.

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