A Landmark for Asbestos Disease Sufferers with Work-Related Diseases

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation today congratulated the Government and both houses of the Tasmanian Parliament for the passing of legislation to establish Tasmania’s first asbestos diseases compensation scheme.

Asbestos Free Tasmania CEO, Susan Wallace said:

“Today is a landmark day for asbestos disease sufferers who have their disease as the result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.”

“For years these disease sufferers have had great difficulty in accessing workers’ compensation, mostly because our current workers’ compensation scheme was never designed for diseases that can develop thirty to fifty years after exposure to asbestos and often, long after a worker has retired.”

“Up to this point the only alternative for many disease sufferers has been the costly, time consuming, stressful and adversarial court system which has seen many inadequate settlements and claimants dying uncompensated for an injury that is related to their work.”

“These are terrible diseases and this new no fault compensation scheme will hopefully offer some comfort that access to quality medical care and compensation will be readily available.”

“It is important to note the many Tasmanians who have worked hard for years to create this significant reform and the general goodwill on all sides of the political divide to get this done.”

Ms Wallace also noted that there are still some reforms needed to assist asbestos disease sufferers whose disease is not work related.

“There is still work to do to ensure those in the community with asbestos disease, but can’t connect their asbestos exposure to the workplace, have access to fair and timely compensation through the courts.”

“Some of these people are the direct family of asbestos workers, like partners and children who hugged dad when he got home or washed his clothes.”

“Exempting dust diseases from the Limitation Act and giving our courts the capacity to award provisional damages will greatly improve the situation for these disease sufferers and we urge the Government to move ahead with these reforms also,” said Ms Wallace.