Latrobe Valley
Asbestos Taskforce

2021 Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey Results

2021 Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey Results

Executive Summary

The Latrobe Valley has long been linked to asbestos, with power stations primarily built using asbestos containing materials, as well as workers’ housing for State Electricity Commission employees, and for other industries such as Victorian Railways. Consequently, many people in the Latrobe Valley have succumbed to asbestos related disease.[1]

As detailed in a 2020 study published by the taskforce,[2] it was also common for planning schemes in the mid-20th century to mandate the use of asbestos cladding for the rebuilding of properties following bushfires. Due to its widespread popularity as a building product, it is thought that Australian homes built between 1940 and 1990 are very likely to contain asbestos.

Today there continues to be a high level of awareness of asbestos and asbestos-related issues in the Latrobe Valley:

  • 92% agree that asbestos is very common in Australian buildings
  • 85% agree that even a small amount of asbestos can be very dangerous
  • 96% agree that anyone doing renovations needs to be mindful of asbestos.

The two most highly rated concerns regarding asbestos are illegal dumping and the health impacts of asbestos exposure.

In 2019, 37% were concerned about asbestos in power stations, however this
has now fallen to 12%. It is noted that a large program of asbestos removal works commenced in 2020 at Hazelwood power station and is now almost complete. Another factor for this decrease could be the small sample of respondents aged over 65, which is 11% compared to 20% in the 2019 survey. The over-65 age group is more closely linked to asbestos-related diseases, due to the long latency period between exposure and diagnosis, and therefore the assumption follows that this group is more aware of cases arising from workers in Latrobe Valley’s power stations.

It is acknowledged that the significant decrease in the number of respondents aged over 65 is likely to have a bearing on all areas of the survey, as this age group is more likely to have been involved in home renovations in their lifetime, know more people with asbestos-related disease, and therefore have a greater understanding of the risks of asbestos exposure and higher awareness levels of asbestos-related issues.

Another factor may be the higher number of respondents who have never either lived or worked in the Latrobe Valley; almost three times as many from the initial benchmark survey (up to 17% from 6% in 2019).

A positive result in this year’s survey has been the continuing decline in the number of people who say they are confident or very confident in their own ability to identify asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). This has fallen from 39% in 2019, to 31% in 2020 and 23% in 2021. Further, there has been a corresponding increase in training. In 2020, 22% of those who said they were confident or very confident in identifying ACMs had undertaken formal training, but in 2021, this has increased to 39%. This highlights that those undertaking training understand that it is almost impossible to identify the thousands of products that contain asbestos.

Over half (56%) have been involved in renovations on properties built before 1990 and two thirds (68%) state they would do at least part of the work in a kitchen or bathroom renovation themselves.

In responding to the questions about home renovations, 69% completed this section of the survey, with more than half saying they had undertaken home renovations in the past three years, and one in five saying they intended to undertake renovations in the next 12 months.

With regards to home renovation works recently completed, the number of home renovators assessing for the presence of asbestos themselves is still very high at 37% (33% in 2020, 36% in 2019). This is of concern as only laboratory testing can confirm this for certain; it is impossible to tell by simply looking at a product whether it contains asbestos or not.

Overall, the survey reveals some positive changes, particularly the increased awareness of the difficulty in identifying asbestos-containing materials, and the increase in those who strongly agree they would seek specialist advice if they were unsure something contained asbestos (up to 57% from 46% in 2020).

Of concern is that one in three properties (32%) built before 1990 are still not being assessed for asbestos prior to renovation, which signifies a key area in which to concentrate efforts. This is especially important as 70% of respondents indicated they were planning to undertake home renovations in the future, and 30% of all home renovators surveyed did all of the renovation works themselves without any professional help from tradespersons.


[1] Begg, S., Vos, T. and Stone, C., Mesothelioma as a marker for asbestos-related lung disease in Victoria. Health of Victorians, The Chief Health Officer’s Bulletin., 2001. 1: p. 10–12.

[2] Estimating the volume of residential asbestos remaining in the Latrobe Valley, 2020. https://www.asbestostaskforce.net/publications/

2020 Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey Results

2020 Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey Results

Executive Summary

The Latrobe Valley has long been linked to asbestos, with power stations primarily built using asbestos containing materials, as well as workers’ housing for State Electricity Commission employees, and also for other industries such as Victorian Railways. Consequently, many people in the Latrobe Valley have succumbed to asbestos related disease.[1]

As detailed in a recent study published by the taskforce,[2] it was also common for planning schemes in the mid-20th century to mandate the use of asbestos cladding for the rebuilding of properties following bushfires. Due to its widespread popularity as a building product, it is thought that Australian homes built between 1940 and 1990 are very likely to contain asbestos.

Today there continues to be a high level of awareness of asbestos and asbestos-related issues in the Latrobe Valley:

  • 88% agree that asbestos is very common in Australian buildings
  • 83% agree that even a small amount of asbestos can be very dangerous
  • 96% agree that anyone doing renovations needs to be mindful of asbestos.

The two most highly rated concerns regarding asbestos are illegal dumping and the health impacts of asbestos exposure.

In 2019, 37% were concerned about asbestos in power stations, however this has now fallen to 20%. It is noted that a large program of asbestos removal works was undertaken in 2020 at Hazelwood power station and is now almost complete. Another likely factor for this decrease could be the small sample of respondents aged over 65, which is 6% compared to 20% in the 2019 survey.

The over-65 age group is more closely linked to asbestos-related diseases, due to the long latency period between exposure and diagnosis, and therefore the assumption follows that this group is more aware of cases arising from workers in Latrobe Valley’s power stations.

It is acknowledged that the significant decrease in the number of respondents aged over 65 is likely to have a bearing on all areas of the survey, as this age group is more likely to have been involved in home renovations in their lifetime, know more people with asbestos-related disease, and therefore have a greater understanding of the risks of asbestos exposure and higher awareness levels of asbestos-related issues.

This survey has returned a figure of 37% who said they have known someone who has died or whose health has been affected as a result of asbestos exposure. In the 2019 survey, this was 65%. Another factor may be the higher number of respondents who have never either lived or worked in the Latrobe Valley; up to 14% from 6% in 2019.

While almost one third (31%) of all respondents are confident in their own ability to identify asbestos containing materials, only 22% have had any formal training. Over half (56%) have been involved in renovations on properties built before 1990 and 73% state they would do at least part of the work in a kitchen or bathroom renovation themselves.

In responding to the questions about home renovations, 61% completed this section of the survey, with more than half saying they had undertaken home renovations in the past three years, and one in five saying they intended to undertake renovations in the next 12 months.

With regards to home renovation works recently completed, there has been a decrease in the number who undertook a risk of asbestos exposure assessment themselves, instead of engaging professionals. This figure has gone from 36% in 2019 to 15% in 2020, which can only be viewed as positive. However, 9% are still doing asbestos removal themselves. Reasons for doing so include believing they had the skills/knowledge to remove asbestos properly (30%), and to save money (50%).

Overall, the survey reveals similar trends that were identified in the 2019 benchmark survey: the identified need for increased education and awareness, more accessible and low-cost disposal options, and greater levels of regulation and compliance.


[1] Begg, S., Vos, T. and Stone, C., Mesothelioma as a marker for asbestos-related lung disease in Victoria. Health of Victorians, The Chief Health Officer’s Bulletin., 2001. 1: p. 10–12.

[2] Estimating the volume of residential asbestos remaining in the Latrobe Valley, 2020. https://www.asbestostaskforce.net/publications/

2019 Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey Results

2019 Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey, your time in providing valuable feedback is highly appreciated.

Executive Summary

The Latrobe Valley has long been linked to asbestos, with power stations primarily built using asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and consequently, many power station workers succumbing to asbestos related diseases.[1]

Of the survey respondents, nearly two in three (65%) have known someone who has died or whose health has been affected as a result of asbestos exposure.

Correspondingly, there is a high level of awareness of asbestos and asbestos related issues in the Latrobe Valley:

  • 87% agree that asbestos is very common in Australian buildings
  • 89% agree that even a small amount of asbestos can be very dangerous
  • 98% agree that anyone doing renovations needs to be mindful of asbestos.

The two most highly rated concerns regarding asbestos are the health impacts and the illegal dumping of asbestos.

Home renovation is a popular activity, with 95% respondents indicating they have undertaken home renovations including as DIY home renovators:

  • 68% reported that they have undertaken renovations on properties built prior to 1990
  • 74% report that they would do at least some of the work themselves in a kitchen or bathroom renovation.

Many (39%) are confident in their own ability to identify asbestos containing materials but only 29% have had any formal training.

In the DIY home renovators section, two-thirds (67%) of the respondents report that they have undertaken home renovations in the past three years. Of concern is the 36% that undertook a risk of asbestos exposure assessment themselves, without engaging professionals.

While there is high level of agreement among DIY renovators that in principle, a licensed removalist ought to be engaged, almost 1 in 5 (19%) report having done the work themselves. Reasons for doing so include believing they had the skills/knowledge to remove asbestos properly (57%), and to save money (37%).

Two out of five (43%) DIY renovators surveyed intend to do renovations in the next 12 months comprising either internal or external works or both.

Overall, both sections of the survey reveal a demand for increased education, more accessible and low-cost disposal options, and greater levels of regulation and compliance.

[1] Begg, S., Vos, T. and Stone, C., Mesothelioma as a marker for asbestos-related lung disease in Victoria. Health of Victorians, The Chief Health Officer’s Bulletin., 2001. 1: p. 10–12.