Searchshow menu

Asbestos Awareness Week transcript

Russ Street: Over the next 20 years, it’s estimated that 30 to 40 thousand Australians will be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. Frightening statistics, when you consider that there are an estimated 2500 asbestos-related deaths in this country every year. With those numbers, according to the Asbestos Diseases Society, increasing.

Asbestos Awareness Week is designed to do just that – raise the awareness of asbestos, the dangers of handling it, and the types of treatment available.  

Vicki Hamilton, from the Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases Support Group – GARDS – is also a member of the Comcare Asbestos Innovation Fund. She says the message during Asbestos Awareness Week is clear.

Vicki Hamilton: We want people to be aware of asbestos in the community in all its shapes and forms, and to be very very careful if they have to handle it in any way.

RS: Mia Lindgren from Monash University is part of the Australian Asbestos Network – a website resource capturing medical and public health information along with an historical record of Australia’s experience of asbestos. And even though asbestos was banned in this country in 2003, it remains an ever-present danger.

Mia Lindgren: A lot of people think that asbestos is a story of the past, but actually what we’re seeing is that it’s something we should be careful with today. There’s a lot of asbestos around us in Australia, so people need to be careful.

RS: But there is good news. Vicki Hamilton says people in 2011 are much more aware of the dangers of asbestos.

VH: Eleven years ago, I can tell you for a fact, that people used to say that asbestos wasn’t dangerous and that white asbestos especially was not a problem and wouldn’t make you sick. Now people understand that asbestos in any form it takes can be very very dangerous and it can give you terrible diseases.

ML: We don’t want to make people too scared so they go into denial and say, you know, I just don’t want to deal with it. And asbestos isn’t dangerous if you don’t disturb it, and that’s important to mention, it’s not like if you live in a house that has asbestos, as long as it’s well kept, that’s fine. But we also need to understand that there’s no reason today to be exposed to asbestos, and if people do the right thing and take care, then it will be OK.

RS: So you’re part of the Comcare Asbestos Innovation Fund – what role does it have in highlighting the very real dangers of asbestos and asbestos-related diseases?

VH: Well, I believe the fund itself is putting forward new ideas and initiatives in how to combat asbestos in the community in all its forms. I think there’s some terrific ideas coming through in there, and I hope to see some of those make a real difference, and research as well, because we’ve got people who are putting in with research ideas. I would dearly love to see some cures or things that make people’s lives a lot easier and last longer.

RS: For more information on the Comcare Asbestos Innovation Fund, on GARDS, or the Australian Asbestos Network, here are the website addresses.
Page last updated: 04 Nov 2013