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Asbestos-related claims for compensation or damages

The Asbestos-related Claims (Management of Commonwealth Liabilities) Act 2005 (ARC Act) provides for Comcare to assume liability for and manage most asbestos-related claims for the payment of compensation or damages to a person in respect of an asbestos-related condition suffered by the person or another person arising from a breach of a common law or statutory duty of care by the Commonwealth or an entity that was a Commonwealth authority when the breach of the duty of care occurred. This includes claims against the Australian Government and, with certain exceptions, its agencies and controlled companies.

The liabilities are assumed by Comcare—and cease to be liabilities of the agencies and controlled companies—on and from 26 October 2005 or the subsequent making of an ARC Act claim.

This function is set apart from Comcare's workers' compensation and rehabilitation functions under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 and occupational health and safety functions under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The function is separately funded and outside the oversight of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission—the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has policy responsibility and oversight.

The centralisation of asbestos-related conditions liabilities and management does not apply to the liabilities of and claims against the Australian Postal Corporation, Telstra Corporation Limited or their subsidiaries. The ARC Act applies to most other current and former Australian Government agencies and controlled companies.

Asbestos-related conditions

The ARC Act defines an asbestos-related condition as:

  • asbestosis
  • an asbestos-induced carcinoma
  • an asbestos-related non-malignant pleural disease
  • mesothelioma
  • any other condition caused by inhaling asbestos dust or fibres.

Asbestos-related claims

Comcare established the Asbestos and Lump Sum Team and Asbestos Legal Team to accept service of and defend or settle ARC Act claims and to pursue contributions from other defendants and third parties.

In accordance with its Common law asbestos-related claims policy statement, Comcare will manage ARC Act claims with the objectives of:

  • expediting the payment of compensation where liability is admitted or established
  • reducing Comcare's overall liabilities by recovering contributions from any liable persons or corporations (third parties) where appropriate.
Page last updated: 10 Apr 2015