How long have you been a school cleaner and how did you come to be cleaning at The Woden School?
I started school cleaning in February of 2017, when it was still under the private sector. I came to Australia as a student and school cleaning was a convenient part-time job. I was able to study during the day and in the evenings after classes I was able to come and clean.
When I started in 2017, I was cleaning at Kaleen Primary School. It’s still my main school that I clean at, but due to COVID-19 there were vacancies announced by the Directorate for daytime full-time cleaning. I expressed my interest for the full-time cleaning role, and I was placed at The Woden School.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As a day cleaner my main job is to sanitise all of the high frequency touch points. Over the day, I’ll make sure that I complete a circle of the entire school and its touch points so that I don’t miss anything.
I start from the entry site of the school and clean all of the touch points including handles, switches and doors. From the entrance I cycle around the school and its two buildings including classrooms, staff rooms and bathrooms.
When the children are not in the classroom, I go into the classrooms and sanitise the tables to make sure they’re clean. In staff rooms I’ll make sure I sanitise the keyboard and mouse, the computer screen and the telephone, among the main touch points like switches and doors.
What is something about your job that people may not realise?
The importance of it. In my home country of Bhutan, cleaning is seen as quite a low-level job that is not well paying or skilled.
Here it is seen as an important job to have. Particularly because of COVID-19, because sanitising is important to prevent against transmission of the disease. In schools it is so important because children are very active, and you need to clean frequently.
Coming into a freshly cleaned school in the morning can also make a difference to children’s moods when they learn, as they are not in a dirty environment. Teachers also do the important work of teaching the children and having a clean environment hopefully improves their mood as well.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
Seeing something clean is rewarding for me. At Kaleen I used to clean the kindergarten site. It was really messy, but cleaning and vacuuming that area gave me great satisfaction when I was finished. I’m a dad and I imagine my daughter in those spaces when I clean.
My job also provides me with a livelihood and allows me to support my family, which is a great motivation for me.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The first advice I received on the job when I came to Australia was to think positively and perform your best.
When I started school cleaning it was important to take it positively, particularly because cleaning can be seen as a low-level job where I’m from. But it’s a job that has such a positive impact on the school, students and teachers. It also positively impacts me, as I’ve been able to support myself and my family.
When I first meet anyone that has come to Australia and works with me that is the advice I give them. To think positively and break that mental barrier of thinking that cleaning is not worthy or important, because it is.