Australian Asbestos Management Review
The establishment of an Australian program to implement safe asbestos management policies throughout the country was announced by the Minister for Workplace Relations Senator Chris Evans on October 29, 2010. The National Asbestos Management Review will be conducted under the auspices of Geoff Fary, formerly the Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.1
At the end of the review process (June 30, 2012), recommendations will be made to the Government regarding a national strategy to raise asbestos awareness and improve management practices. Specific issues which are to be considered include measures to: publicise the asbestos hazard, prevent the import and export of asbestos-contaminated goods, ensure that safe procedures are used for the removal, handling, storage and disposal of asbestos waste, audit and publicize the presence of in-situ asbestos, collect data and report the occurrence of asbestos-related disease.
Mr. Fary's work as Chair of the Review will benefit from the input of an expert advisory group composed of key personnel from the Australian Contractors Association, academia, the trade union movement, the medical and research community and the legal profession. Unfortunately, the Government has not appointed to this body a representative from an asbestos support group. Commenting on this situation, Robert Vojakovic, President of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia, said:
The establishment of the Advisory group is a step in the right direction; however, it is disappointing that the Government has ignored the years of hands-on expertise of the Australian Asbestos Support Groups which have provided essential counselling and valuable support to many asbestos victims and their families while the Federal Government has sat on its hands.
It is absolutely essential that a representative from the Australian Asbestos Support Groups is appointed forthwith onto the AMR advisory group. Otherwise it would seem that the Australian Advisory Support Groups have wasted their time and effort in attending the National Asbestos Summit in Sydney on 28 and 29 June 2010.2
November 16, 2010
1 ACTU Press Release. ACTU welcomes appointment of Geoff Fary to chair new national asbestos review. October 29, 2010.
2 Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia. Christmas 2010 Newsletter. November 12, 2010.