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Referral/Information

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Inc. (ADSA)219
Main Street
Osborne Park WA 6017
PO Box 1394, Osborne Park WA 6916
Phone:  (08) 9344 4077
Fax: (08) 9345 0422
Free Call: 1800 646 690
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.asbestosdiseases.org.au
Contact: Robert Vojakovic
Mobile:  0417 175 24

NEW SOUTH WALES

Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia Inc. (ADFA)
Suite 3, Ground Floor
133 Parramatta Road
Granville NSW 2142
Phone: (02) 9637 8759
Fax: (02) 9897 3259
Free Call: 1800 006 196
E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.adfa.org.au

Asbestos Diseases Support Group, Wagga Wagga and District
PO Box 8190
Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
Contact (1): Inge Webster
Phone: (02) 6922 3826
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact (2): Olga Seaman
Phone: (02) 6922 541

Bernie Banton Foundation (BBF)
PO Box 451
Castle Hill NSW 1765
Phone: (02) 8850 1223
Fax: (02) 8850 1233
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.berniebanton.com.au
Contact: Karen Banton CEO
Mobile: 0412 830 485

VICTORIA

Asbestoswise - information and support
Ross House, 1st Floor, 247- 251 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone:(03) 9654 9555
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.asbestoswise.com.au

Asbestos Council of Victoria/GARDS
41 Monash Rd.
Newborough, Victoria, 3825
Tel: 03 5127 7744
Fax: 03 5126 0354
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: http://www.gards.org/
Contact: Vicki Hamilton

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Asbestos Diseases Society of SA Inc. (ADSSA)
30 Hurtle Square
Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: (08) 8359 2423
Free Call: 1800 157 540
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.adssa-inc.com.au
Contact: Ian Sheppard
Mobile: 0403 914 663

Asbestos Victims Association (SA) Inc. (AVA-SA)
Level 3, 60 Waymouth Street
Adelaide SA 5000
PO Box 4066, Elizabeth South SA 5112
Phone: (08) 8212 6008
Fax: (08) 8212 7008
Free Call: 1800 665 395
Mobile: 0418 807 834
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.avasa.asn.au

QUEENSLAND

Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Support Group (AMSG)
PO Box 1080,
Coolangatta Qld 4225
Website:  www.amsg.com.au
Contact:  Nic Bos
Phone:    (07) 5599 7876
Mobile:    0417 705 534
E-mail:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Asbestos Related Disease Support Society Qld Inc.
Level 6, Suite 70 Silverton Place
101 Wickham Terrace
Spring Hill QLD 4000
Phone Free Call: 1800 776 412
Fax: (07) 3832 7343
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.asbestos-disease.com.au
Contact: Ray Colbert
Mobile:   0408 758 963

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency was established on 1 July 2013 to provide a national focus on asbestos issues which goes beyond workplace safety to encompass environmental and public health concerns.  The agency aims to ensure asbestos issues receive the attention and focus needed to drive change across all levels of government.

www.asbestossafety.gov.au

Cancer Council Tasmania

Mesothelioma: A Guide for people with cancer, their families and friends 

This publication is available for people with cancer, their families and friends. Download here

Cancer Council Tasmania is a not-for-profit organisation that works to minimise the impact of cancer on all Tasmanians through advocacy, raising awareness of cancer prevention and offering advice and support for those living with cancer and their carers. Website: www.cancertas.org.au

Cancer Council Australia

Understanding Mesothelioma Booklet

This publication can be downloaded here

Work Safe Tasmania
For workplace safety and prevention information, advisory service details, Safe Work Tasmania Week and WorkCover Safety Awards, accreditation of medical practitioners and licensing of insurers. For a list of licensed asbestos removalists, or complaints regarding work carried out by an asbestos removalist and enquiries and complaints regarding asbestos in the workplace go here. Website: www.worksafe.tas.gov.au

Tasmanian Councils
For enquiries or complaints regarding the incorrect removal or disposal of asbestos in your neighborhood. Click here for: list of Tasmanian councils

Environment Protection Authority
The EPA’s statutory responsibilities under the environment legislation include assessing and regulating large industry in Tasmania, the assessment of Environmental Improvement Programs, Environmental Agreements and Environmental Audits. Website: www.epa.tas.gov.au

Unions Tasmania
Unions Tasmania is the peak body for affiliated Unions in Tasmania and provide training and support for Employee Safety representatives.  They are actively campaigning for a policy of prioritised removal of asbestos in Tasmanian workplaces. Their site provides information sheets and documents on asbestos in Tasmania. Website: www.unionstas.com.au

Occupational Hygienists
The AIOH is one of the professional groups that can provide the expertise required to assess identification of the presence of asbestos. Click here for: more information on occupational hygienists in Tasmania

National Association of Testing Authorities
The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) is Australia’s national laboratory accreditation authority. This site provides technical information on asbestos identification, along with information on the accreditation process. Website: www.nata.com.au

Quit Tasmania
Smoking places people exposed to asbestos at a greatly increased risk of developing asbestos related disease. Quit Tasmania’s website has good strategies for quitting smoking. Website: www.quittas.org.au

Maurice Blackburn
Maurice Blackburn are one of Australia's leading plaintiff law firms specialising in asbestos litigation. If you have mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques or gastro-intestinal cancers you may be eligible to make a claim. Website: www.mauriceblackburn.com.au

Asbestos.com
Asbestos.com is an international site that offers a one-stop resource on all asbestos issues ranging from occupational exposure to mesothelioma treatment options. Asbestos.com is the leading asbestos and mesothelioma resource. Website: www.asbestos.com

Asbestos Disease Research Institute
The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) is the world’s only stand-alone research facility dedicated to asbestos-related diseases. ADRI is located in the Bernie Banton Centre in Sydney and aims to improve diagnosis and treatment, and to enhance the quality of life of those affected by asbestos-related diseases. Website:  www.adri.org.au

The Australian Lung Foundation’s Multi-centre Clinical Trials Networks (MCTN)
An initiative of The Australian Lung Foundation, the MCTN is a service that allows patients to view current clinical trials predominately in the area of Lung and Respiratory disease. Membership is FREE and patients can register their interest in participating. The Lung Foundation will keep members updated with information about clinical trials that may be of interest to them. Website: www.mctn.org.au

Community Support Program

AFTF provides support for asbestos disease sufferers and their families. We have people based in the north and south of the State. Please contact us to be connected with a support worker who will call you. Our support workers can provide:

  • A listening ear if you need to talk
  • Information about how to find out more about compensation claims
  • Support with finding services or further support in your locality

Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation is here to provide support and referral for legal, medical and other support services. Contact AFTF and someone will call you to discuss your needs.

AFTF produces a booklet on information regarding Asbestos Related Diseases. Please contact us to ask for a copy of the booklet.

In addition, the Cancer Council offers a range of support and information services including;

  • Transport 2 treatment: a no cost service for patients who would otherwise be unable to get to cancer treatment or medical appointments.
  • Cancer Council Helpline: Provides access to trained support staff and volunteers who can assist you to access services and information that can help those affected by cancer.
  • Information and Support Centres: Located throughout the State, the Support and Information Centres offer a friendly place to talk with trained support staff and have a range of information available.
  • Support Groups: Offering opportunities to share similar experiences, learn about specific topics and meet others.
  • Cancer Connect: Putting you in touch with someone who has experienced a similar cancer journey. This person provides support and assistance to you and can act as a guide through your cancer experience.For information on any of the above services – please contact Cancer Council Tasmania on 1300 65 65 85 or visit www.cancertas.org.au

Mesothelioma: A Guide for people with cancer, their families and friends 

This publication is available for people with cancer, their families and friends. Download here

Looking for a licensed removalist? Click here.

Currently regulations allow for an individual to remove up to 10 m2 of bonded asbestos. Please note that AFTF does not recommend this practice.

Removal of asbestos products in Tasmania must be done in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.

If you have concerns that a neighbour is removing asbestos without taking appropriate precautions please contact your local council.

If you are planning to undertake home renovations you will find some useful information on these sites:

www.asbestos.tas.gov.au

www.asbestosawareness.com.au/asbestos-in-the-home

www.worksafe.tas.gov.au

Licensed Removalists

It is fundamental that the company you employ to remove asbestos is fully licensed (either as Class A - friable and bonded or Class B - bonded only).

WorkSafe Tasmania provides a list of licensed removalists Classes A & B.

Note: Contact WorkSafe Tasmania on 1300 366 322 to check the asbestos contractor of your choice holds the appropriate asbestos removal license.

For details about how to apply for an asbestos removal license click here.

Disposal

There are strict rules about preparation and disposal of asbestos containing materials. We recommend you seek professional help from a removalist. To find your nearest asbestos disposal site click here

In Australia, most homes and workplaces built before 1986 contain asbestos in some form. There are around 3000 different products containing asbestos.

Does your workplace have an asbestos register? An asbestos register is the minimum required under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2012.

If you are not sure if asbestos is present in your workplace, then you need to have a risk assessment done and an asbestos register completed. Contact an A Class asbestos removalist or an occupational hygienist to carry out the work.

Testing for Asbestos

The best way to find out if it is asbestos is to have it tested by an occupational hygienist or A Class Asbestos Removalist.

  • For testing contact SGC Safety on 03 6227 2210 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • For removal contact Aegis Asbestos on 0437 987 661 or visit aegisasbestos.com.au or search for a list of removalists in your local area.

 

Asbestos can commonly be found in:

  • Oven door seals, heaters and radiators, air conditioning ducts or behind stoves
  • Flues on gas appliances
  • Acoustic ceilings and ceiling tiles, roof tiles
  • Gaskets, Brake and clutch linings
  • Some paints and plaster and cement render
  • Fencing
  • Asbestos-cement electrical fuse boards,
  • Floors and brickwork, compressed asbestos panels for floorings
  • Fire door insulation, fire blankets
  • Insulation around the heating elements in hair dryers
  • Lift shafts
  • Mill board, cement sheets, pipe insulation, spray insulation, beams and slabs.

 

 

When asbestos products deteriorate or are disturbed, dangerous minute asbestos fibres and dust, that are frequently not visible to the naked eye, are released. When inhaled or swallowed the asbestos fibres can lodge in internal organs and cause cancer many decades later.Asbestos disease usually takes about two decades or more to develop after asbestos exposure occurs. Not everyone exposed to asbestos will develop an asbestos related disease. The greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater risk of disease. However, some people have developed asbestos cancer after only minor asbestos exposure.World Health Organization (WHO) states that: 'there is no minimum safe exposure level for any form of asbestos fibres.'

The National Health and Medical Research Council has noted that:'....asbestos is ...highly toxic, insidious and environmentally persistent material that has killed thousands of Australians, and will kill thousands more this century.'

Last week I was exposed to asbestos dust, what can I do?

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do. There is a long time delay (10 – 70 years) between exposure and the onset of disease symptoms. An X-ray will not show any changes due to your recent exposure. Fortunately not everyone exposed to asbestos will go on to develop an asbestos-related disease. If the information provided here is not reassuring, please discuss your concerns with your doctor.

National Asbestos Exposure Register

The Government has created a register to record the details of members of the Australian community who think they may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials.

The National Asbestos Exposure Register is managed by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.

To register click here to download an online form or visit www.asbestossafety.gov.au 

What are the signs and symptoms of asbestos related diseases?

The most common symptom is progressive shortness of breath. Other symptoms include mild to moderate chest pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Right heart failure associated with respiratory embarrassment and respiratory failure can occur as disease progresses.

Asbestos can cause diseases, such as:

  • Mesothelioma
    An incurable cancer of the lining of the lung or stomach. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Minimal asbestos exposure is enough to cause this cancer.
  • Lung cancer
    Asbestos exposure alone can cause lung cancer, although it is more common in those who have also been smokers. The combined affects of smoking and asbestos exposure can increase the risk of developing lung cancer by up to 90% of those who have not been exposed to either carcinogen. The only way to reduce the risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking.
  • Asbestosis
    Usually associated with very heavy asbestos exposure. It is not a cancer, but can be very debilitating and cause increasing breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Asbestosis can progress even after asbestos exposure has ceased, and can ultimately result in death because the added strain placed on other organs.
  • Pleural plaques
    These are markings on the lining of the lung and act as indicators of past asbestos exposure. In most cases, pleural plaques do not cause symptoms. Sometimes chest tightness and breathlessness can be found to be due to pleural plaques. Pleural plaques are not necessarily a precursor for more serious asbestos disease.
  • Gastrointestinal tract cancers
    Heavy asbestos exposure has been found to be related to some gastrointestinal tract cancers such as those affecting the larynx and oesophagus. Asbestos exposure and gastrointestinal tract cancer is less common.

Asbestos is a mineral found in rock - a compound metallic silicate that occurs naturally.

There are three main types of asbestos;

 

In Australia, all of the asbestos types were used in various applications up until the late 1960s.White, and some brown, asbestos usage continued until the early 1980s, including in building products.

There are two classes of asbestos types.

Friable (Class A) Asbestos is classified as any material found under ground level, as well as a few older forms of insulation used in domestic heaters and stoves and in ceiling insulations products.  Ceiling insulation containing asbestos was generally used in commercial buildings.  In most cases, glass fibres have replaced asbestos in today's insulations products.

Non-friable (Class B) Asbestos is a fibre-cement product.  The asbestos in firmly embedded in a hardened matrix.  The bonded sheets are flat, corrugated or circular tubes.

 

Biological Properties of Asbestos Fibres:

  • Fibre length 5-100 micrometres
  • Coarse and longer fibres deposited in larger airways
  • Fine fibres enter lung tissue where they cause intense tissue reaction
  • Crocidolite fibres shorter and stiffer; split into straight fibrils; Amosite also fragments
  • Chrysotile fibres are longer flexible fibres
Asbestos strategy funding frozen
 
Australia’s vital response to the deadly asbestos mineral could grind to a halt because of funding issues.

Unspent funds totalling $3 million are being withheld from the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency says Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson.

Mr Robson, who described the funding as critical, said without it the national strategic plan, education programs and the cooperation of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection would also be put in jeopardy.

“When it comes to the importation of building products, every trades person could face the possibility of being exposed without even knowing it, thinking the ban was completely in place and working,” Mr Robson said.

He said the funding that had been withheld came about due to a hiring freeze in the public service that delayed the agency’s set up.

“It makes me angry and it is upsetting because I don’t think the Minister is being told the truth,” he said.

“When the request went in for the money, which was already allocated, it was passed onto the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and they did not recommend it should be released and that is the problem,” he said.

Tasmanian Labor Senator  Lisa Singh urged Employment Minister Michaelia Cash to step in and protect the “crucial anti-asbestos” campaign.

“The agency’s strategy to eradicate deadly asbestos from millions of Australian homes, businesses and public buildings has now ground to a halt,” Senator Singh said.

 

Asbestos Found in Royal Hobart Hospital 

 
Mould and asbestos has been found in parts of the hospital and workers are saying they have been exposed as a result of poor work practices.

 

Employer ignored dust regulations and Health Act

Tuesday 09 February 2016 2:53pm

A superior court judge has examined non-delegable duties of care in apportioning liability for a mesothelioma damages claim.

The plaintiff worker's former employer was negligent in failing to address the risks he faced at workplaces it didn't control, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Jack Rush found.

The electrician regularly performed asbestos lagging work in boiler rooms and service tunnels – where asbestos dust was "everywhere, floating around like snow" – while employed by Field and Hall Pty Ltd between 1964 and 1971.

He later developed mesothelioma and claimed damages from Field and Hall, as well as asbestos manufacturers Amaca Pty Ltd (formerly James Hardie and Coy Pty Ltd) and CSR (a former James Hardie partner).

All three parties conceded they had breached their duty of care and agreed to settle the claim

In the contribution proceedings at hand, Field and Hall admitted it breached the non-delegable duty of care it owed the worker by negligently failing to take reasonable care to prevent him from being exposed to asbestos dust and fibres.

Justice Rush said that in the context of this case, the non-delegable duty of care owed by Field and Hall "means that it cannot be relieved of its obligation to take reasonable care of the [worker] even though the [worker's] work was being undertaken in workplaces [Field and Hall] did not control".

He said there was no evidence to show Field and Hall assessed or considered the asbestos risks faced by employees, or sought to gather knowledge of the dangers of inhaling asbestos dust, in the 1960s.

"It is relevant to the assessment of [Field and Hall's] responsibility that the [worker's] employment extended over a period of time when the knowledge concerning the dangers of exposure to asbestos was rapidly increasing... [By] 1970 the dangers of asbestos causing mesothelioma was well known in Australia," he said.

He found the employer should have been aware of these regulations, which were "part of the regulatory framework highlighting precautions to be taken in the workplace where excessive levels of asbestos dust and fibre were generated".

Further, the employer should have been aware that in 1956, the Victorian Government Gazette declared working with asbestos a dangerous trade under the Health Act 1928.

But Justice Rush found Amaca and CSR had a "higher level of responsibility and culpability for their breach of the standard of care than" Field and Hall.

Justice Rush found Amaca and CSR were each 40 per cent liable for the worker's damages, while Field and Hall was 20 per cent liable.

 

Asbestos found in children's crayons

 
Asbestos has been discovered in imported crayons connected with popular children's cartoon characters like Peppa Pig and Dora the explorer read more
 
 

Rise in number of deaths from mesothelioma
New statistics show a rise in the number of reported deaths from mesothelioma. Read the report from Safe Work Australia

 
 
New Fears on Asbestos
YOUNG tradies are working at building sites with little or no knowledge about asbestos, putting themselves and others at risk of exposure to the deadly product... Read more...

Compensation payouts rise 

The asbestos compensation commission's annual report states that Tasmania's asbestos compensation scheme paid out $6.8 million in 2013-2014.

Applications for compensation increased from 22 to 27 and was paid to 10 workers and three family members. Five of the 27 applicants were pending decisions at the end of the financial year. Of the 13 successful applications, eight related to mesothelioma, three to asbestosis and two to lung cancer.

Eight of the accepted claims related to labourers, two to plumbers and one each to a fitter and turner, a builder and an electrician.

The government compensation scheme is funded by a levy on workers' compensation insurance premiums.

Third Wave of Asbestos Victims Targeted By Campaign - 16 October 2014 

A new information booklet targeting home renovators and small builders has been launched by the Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation (AFTF). Read more...

Unions Tas spreads word about Dangers of asbestos

Simon Cocker, President of the AFTF, welcomed the support of Unions Tas today in rolling out the Asbestos at Work package though its network. Read more… 

For more information visit: http://asbestosatwork.org.au/index.php/en/

TasBuild and AFTF launch Asbestos Awareness for Workers 

A successful partnership between AFTF and TasBuild has resulted in the release of a high quality information package being offered to TasBuild members. Read more…..

Break through in law change to protect asbestos sufferers - 06/11/2013

A significant breakthrough for Tasmanians who suffer with asbestos related diseases has been made today in the Tasmanian Parliament. Read more.....

AFTF Welcomes the Federal Government Plan to Act on Asbestos - 5/09/12

Asbestos Free Tasmania CEO Susan Wallace welcomed today’s announcement by Minister Bill Shorten that the Federal Government will create a new asbestos agency to work with all levels of government to develop a national strategy to remove asbestos from the built environment and increase asbestos awareness and education.

Ms Wallace is attending the Second National Asbestos summit in Sydney, convened to examine the recommendations of the Asbestos Management Revue, delivered to the Federal Government in July.

Susan Wallace said:

“Australia has the highest recorded rate of asbestos related deaths from the dreadful cancer mesothelioma, 600 to 700 per year. Medical experts estimate approximately two cases of lung cancer for ever incidence of mesothelioma so the real yearly death toll is probably twice that.”

“Now we are seeing a new wave of these preventable diseases from people exposed to asbestos, largely in ignorance, through the home renovation boom.”

Ms Wallace acknowledged that removing asbestos safely from our built environment is a massive task that requires Federal Government support and a considered national strategy:

“Tasmania is doing some great work in this area working towards greater public awareness of asbestos, improved education and the development of a prioritised removal policy. However this issue is beyond any one level of government and a national strategy and a bipartisan approach can make a real difference.” Click here to read more.

Important Measures to Assist Asbestos Disease Sufferers - 5/08/12

Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation CEO Susan Wallace today welcomed the Attorney-General’s announcement that the State Government would make the legal process easier for sufferers of asbestos related diseases to claim compensation.

Ms Wallace said these amendments will assist in delivering a fairer, less complex and less costly legal process for those with asbestos-related disease. Click here to read more.

Calls for a National Fund to Assist Low Income Earners in Removing Dangerous Asbestos from their Homes - 20/03/12

Mrs Ronda Kirkpatrick is a pensioner who lives in her own home in Somerset Tasmania. The asbestos roof on her home is so badly degraded that she can pull handfuls of broken-down asbestos cement out of her gutters. This “muck” as she describes it is 20% to 40% loose chrysotile asbestos. She has brought a carefully sealed and labelled bag of this material all the way from Somerset to Hobart to show to Mr Geoff Fary, Chairman of the National Asbestos Management Review.

Today, accompanied by the CEO and President of the Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation, Mrs Kirkpatrick will meet Mr Fary who is in Hobart on a last round of consultations for the National Asbestos Review. Mrs Kirkpatrick will plead the case for support to be provided to low income earners, trapped in houses that have degraded asbestos products who cannot afford to have the asbestos removed.

Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation receives calls on a weekly basis from home owners and tenants worried about asbestos in their properties, or their neighbours’ properties. Click here to read more.

An Historic Day in Tasmania  - Asbestos Disease Compensation Scheme Launched - 26/10/11 - The Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation today welcomed the launch of the Asbestos-Related Diseases (Occupational Exposure) Compensation Scheme and congratulated the Government for creating Tasmania’s first asbestos diseases compensation scheme. Click here to read more.

A Landmark for Asbestos Disease Sufferers with Work-Related Diseases - 20/09/11 - he 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. Click here to read more.

Home Renovators Should Visit the new Asbestos Website -24/8/11 - The Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation welcomed today’s launch of the official State Government asbestos website and urged anyone considering a home renovation to visit the site as a matter of high priority. Click here to read more.

National Review of Asbestos management in Australia – Minister Chris Evans. Click here to read more.

Tasmanian Government releases Regulatory Impact Statement on Asbestos Compensationclick here to read more.

Claims of asbestos used as landfillRead more here.

Killing Time: A new drama series "Killing Time" focusing on the James Hardie asbestos trail of diaster is in the pipeline for 2011. Click here to read more.

Asbestos and the Home Renovator - Beware: Asbestos induced cancer is the worst industrial disaster in the world and will kill more people than Bhopal and Chernobyl. Click here for more information on the program "Dust to Dust" that was screened on Channel 7 on 20 June 2010 about this fresh asbestos epidemic.

Asbestos Under Our Carpet: The ABC's 7.30 Report ran an item on 24 August 2009 relating to the use of sacks to transport asbestos by James Hardie. These sacks were then recycled to create carpet underlay. There is no way to thoroughly remove asbestos fibres, therefore home renovators are putting themselves at risk of asbestos exposure simply by pulling up old carpet. The transcript can be read here.

Grandmother Geraldine Shea Killed by Doing Her Husband's Washing: The simple act of doing her husband's laundry cost Geraldine Shea her life. Click here to read more.

Asbestos Mining Likely to Recommence in Canada: The mining town of Asbestos in Quebec is planning to recommence mining of asbestos even though data from the World Health Organisation estimates that 90,00 deaths a year worldwide are caused by asbestos. Click here to read more.

Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation CEO Susan Wallace today welcomed the Attorney-General’s announcement that the State Government would make the legal process easier for sufferers of asbestos related diseases to claim compensation.

Ms Wallace said these amendments will assist in delivering a fairer, less complex and less costly legal process for those with asbestos-related disease.

“These changes will help iron out some of the difficulties asbestos disease sufferers experience trying to navigate the law in Tasmania and will make a claim for compensation through our courts less procedurally difficult, less complicated and less costly.”

In 2011 Tasmanian Government introduced a ‘no fault’ workers compensation scheme for asbestos disease sufferers.  This scheme is working well.  However the Common Law in Tasmania also requires review and change.

“Not all asbestos exposures are from work situations.  Across the country we are seeing a new wave of asbestos diseases caused by exposure through home renovation and other circumstances.”

“At the moment we have situation where, if you can show your disease is work-related, you can access the statutory compensation scheme which has a speedy, lawyer-free process and a level of evidence much lower than that needed by a court.”

“By contrast, if you are ill because you inhaled fibres while you washed your husband’s overalls and he worked with asbestos, or if you are ill because of a home renovation done in ignorance you have way too many legal hoops to jump through to receive compensation through Tasmania’s courts.”

Provisional Damages - Common law damages claims in Tasmanian are usually settled on the basis of the 'principle of finality'. This is designed to ensure plaintiffs are unable to keep coming back for further compensation once an award has been made. The insidious nature of asbestos-related diseases is such that victims can develop asbestosis and go on to develop mesothelioma or lung cancer – separate and usually much more debilitating diseases.

“The court in Tasmania does not have the power to make a concession for provisional damages and in most cases the ‘principle of finality’ applies so if you have one disease and are unlucky enough to develop another, you have nowhere to go, ” said Ms Wallace.

Time Limitations – Currently Asbestos disease sufferers in Tasmania have to make an almost impossible choice when it comes to when to make a claim for damages.  These people are ill but don’t know how severe their disease is going to be over time and don’t know if they are going to develop another asbestos related disease. Yet the law gives them just one window of time in which they can make a claim.

The twelve year rule further complicates the process.

“When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma more than 12 years has almost always elapsed since they were exposed to asbestos.  It is usually 30 to 40 years.”

“At the moment  their first step towards a degree of justice is to go to court to have a judge award an extension which is costly and an absolute waste of time in circumstances were the claimant may not have long to live.”

“We believe there is a very strong case for exempting dust-related diseases from the Limitation Act altogether, just as they have done in New South Wales and Queensland, and we will be putting that case to the Attorney General.”

“Clearly we will have to see the detail of the legislation but today’s announcement gives us great hope.”

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