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School lice problem comes to a head


A NARRE Warren South mother says she has spent almost $200 in just over a year trying to eradicate head lice from her daughter’s hair.

Annette Ballard said she has regularly been applying treatments to her six-year-old daughter Sarah’s hair since she began prep at Narre Warren South P-12 College last year.

She said it was unfair that some parents could refuse to have head lice checks undertaken on their children when the school sends permission forms home.

"Parents aren’t really doing the job properly … when kids are found to have head lice, the requirement is that they get treated once at home and can then return to school," she said.

Ms Ballard said the problem had even led her to extreme lengths to eradicate the problem such as cutting her daughter’s waist length and thick hair and phoning Queensland for alternative treatments.

She says she spends each weekend applying the treatment to ensure the lice are removed.
"It causes a lot of stress between my daughter and I because she hates sitting there for so long."

"I have had enough because half the class might have a permission form saying it is all right to get checked and then the other half is not allowed to get checked…that is where the problem is coming from."

Her concerns follow a claim by a Hampton Park barber last month (News, 19 February) that she was turning away up to four children a day because of what she claimed was a headlice epidemic.

Kerrie Harvey told the News at the time that she had noticed the problem getting worse over the past two years.
Narre Warren South P-12 College principal Ross Miller said he was always disappointed when parents won’t give permission to check their children’s hair.

"Some people really take offence that somebody is looking through their child’s hair," he said.
"Like any other primary school, head lice is an issue – sometimes it is severe and sometimes there are isolated incidents."

He said the school had a first aid officer that was available to check for the problem.
"With our huge student numbers, we only need one or two parents to say there is no way that their child is going to be inspected and it becomes an issue for us."

Mayfield Ward councillor Kevin Bradford unsuccessfully tried to find a remedy to the problem last year.
He suggested at the time that the City of Casey purchase treatments in bulk to sell at its customer service centres for a reduced price.

"Unfortunately, I didn’t get the support from the rest of the councillors so I am making other investigations into other councils and I will be raising it again in the not so distant future."

City of Casey community safety manager Brendan Fitzsimmons said controlling head lice had not been a council responsibility since 1992.


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