Latrobe Valley
Asbestos Taskforce

Survey results reveal not all homes built or renovated before 1990 are being checked for asbestos before home maintenance jobs or renovations.

Survey results reveal not all homes built or renovated before 1990 are being checked for asbestos before home maintenance jobs or renovations.

The Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce has undertaken four surveys since 2019, and this latest report has tracked changes in awareness and attitudes towards asbestos over that time.

“It remains very concerning that not all homes are being checked for asbestos prior to any works on the property, when homes built before 1990 are likely to contain asbestos somewhere,” said Chair of the Taskforce, Latrobe Health Advocate Jane Anderson.

“Adding to this concern is that fewer than one in five are being checked by an asbestos professional.

“We are hopeful there will be change in this space, as the Breathtaking Renovations video produced by the Taskforce, which has been shown online and also broadcast on TV in Gippsland, has proven to be a successful way to raise awareness.

58% who saw the video or TV commercial have said they are now more likely to stop and think about where asbestos could be in their home.”

Other positive results from the survey include the decline in the number of people since 2019 who say they are confident in identifying asbestos-containing materials (from 39% in 2019 to 22% in 2022). This highlights the increased understanding that asbestos was used in an enormous range of products, over 3,000, and not just in asbestos-cement sheet. While many once believed that asbestos only poses a risk if it is disturbed, this has now fallen from 63% in 2019 to 24% in 2022.

“It is also pleasing that more people are now aware that asbestos needs to be maintained in good condition, and that it is a risk if it is left to degrade because it can release deadly fibres,” said Ms Anderson.

“While there are some positive changes, we need to continue building awareness around the dangers of asbestos. Too many people are undertaking home renovation activities without any asbestos awareness training.

“It is important the whole community understands that we all need to be mindful of asbestos and take it seriously. Asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer, ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases, which has a devastating impact on families and communities. More than 4500 Australians die each year from asbestos-related disease. This is completely preventable if proper precautions are taken.”

Key statistics from the survey:

  • 83% agree it is important for them to know about asbestos and its related dangers
  • 54% respondents have been involved in renovations on properties built before 1990
  • 33% renovating properties built before 1990 are assessing for asbestos themselves
  • 14% DIY home renovators have had formal asbestos training.

– – ENDS – –

For information about asbestos and how to manage the risks, go to www.asbestos.vic.gov.au

Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey results 2019 – 2022

Latrobe Valley Asbestos Survey results 2019 – 2022

Measuring change in awareness and attitudes towards asbestos

Executive Summary

Due to the historical use of asbestos in Latrobe Valley’s power stations and railway industries, many families have been affected by asbestos, and the area is well known for its high rate of asbestos-related disease. However, the use of asbestos-containing materials in the built environment up until 1990 goes far beyond the Latrobe Valley, and today it is believed that one in three Australian homes contain asbestos.

As detailed in a 2020 study published by the Taskforce,[1] it was 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, Australian homes built or renovated between 1940 and 1990 are very likely to contain asbestos.

All surveys from 2019 – 2022 have reported a very high level of awareness of the dangers of asbestos, and the belief that the community should be made aware of the risks of asbestos exposure. While in the recent past, it has been common for people to believe that asbestos products are fine if you leave them alone, there is now a greater understanding that asbestos-containing materials are coming to the end of their product life, and are naturally degrading and releasing asbestos fibres. In 2019, 63% believed asbestos only posed a danger if disturbed. In 2022, this has gone down to 24%.

Another positive result in the 2022 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. This has fallen from 39% in 2019 to 22% in 2022. This indicates that as more people become aware of the volume of different types of asbestos products, their confidence level in being able to identify asbestos-containing materials has declined.

Home renovation or improvement activities continue to be popular, and in 2022, 55% of respondents have been involved in renovations on properties built before 1990, and 74% state they would do at least part of the work in a kitchen or bathroom renovation themselves. While in 2019, 56% of DIY home renovators believed they could identify and manage asbestos on a job site, this has fallen to 30% in 2022. This still remains a concern however, as only 14% of DIY home renovators have had formal asbestos training.

With regards to home renovation works recently completed, the number of home renovators assessing for the presence of asbestos themselves has decreased but is still very high at 20%, down from 36% in 2019.

A success for the Taskforce has been the Breathtaking Renovations [2] video,  which has been part of a social media campaign and also broadcast on television in Gippsland. Half (49%) of this year’s survey respondents had seen Breathtaking Renovations, with 58% saying they were now more likely or much more likely to stop and think about where asbestos could be in their home.

Awareness of the Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce has now grown to 70%, which is a good result considering the participants in this survey who have never either lived or worked in the Latrobe Valley is the highest recorded at 21%; three times the number in the original 2019 benchmark survey.

Despite the clear progress made by the Taskforce, concern remains that almost one in three properties (31%) built before 1990 are still not being assessed for asbestos prior to renovation. This is significant as two thirds of respondents (62%) indicated they were planning to undertake home renovations in the future, and 90% of all home renovators surveyed did some of the renovation works themselves. The importance of a professional assessment to avoid potential asbestos exposure is therefore a key area in which to concentrate future awareness efforts.

[1] Estimating the volume of residential asbestos remaining in the Latrobe Valley – A Model, 2020. https://www.asbestostaskforce.net/publications/
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_9mGDcxL8I
Survey results reveal not all homes built or renovated before 1990 are being checked for asbestos before home maintenance jobs or renovations.

New Latrobe Valley survey results reveal continuing high levels of home renovation activities on properties built before 1990, which are likely to contain asbestos.

“This latest survey shows that three out of five (60%) people have renovated properties built before 1990,” said Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce Chair and Latrobe Health Advocate Jane Anderson.

“The question is that while 74% of homes across the Latrobe Valley region still contain asbestos, are people taking the precautions necessary to prevent risks of asbestos exposure?”

The survey report reveals that 37% DIY home renovators are doing their own asbestos assessments, but only 12% have undertaken asbestos training.

Asbestos was used in over 3,000 building products and the Taskforce has been active in raising awareness of the risks through the production of a new “Breathtaking Renovations” video, which also aired on television recently in Gippsland.

“The Breathtaking Renovations video shows a number of common places where asbestos can be found in the home,” said Ms Anderson, “and it is encouraging to see that the confidence levels people have in their own ability to identify asbestos products has decreased significantly since the first survey in 2019, from 39% to 23%. This means more people are aware that it’s really hard to know all the places it could be, so it’s best to call in a professional to check.

“Asbestos can be very dangerous if not managed properly, and we all need to think twice about asbestos before drilling a hole in a wall, sanding the eaves, pulling up lino or knocking down the old shed in the backyard.

“It really is more common than we think. The latest study soon to be published by the Taskforce to estimate the volumes of asbestos remaining in workplaces across the Latrobe Valley shows that while the volumes are very large, there is still far more asbestos in our homes than in our workplaces.

“In National Asbestos Awareness Week, we encourage people to contact a licensed asbestos removalist before renovating any property built before 1990. In the Latrobe Valley, many lives have been lost to asbestos-related disease, and there is a risk that more will be lost if people aren’t taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves, their neighbours and their loved ones,” said Ms Anderson.

– ENDS –

Asbestos Awareness Week 22 – 28 November 2021

For information about asbestos and how to manage the risks, go to www.asbestos.vic.gov.au



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/

Survey results reveal not all homes built or renovated before 1990 are being checked for asbestos before home maintenance jobs or renovations.

Latrobe Valley asbestos survey results highlight need for greater education about the risks of asbestos exposure in homes built before 1990

Asbestos-containing materials were routinely used in the construction of residential buildings up until 1990, and it is estimated that three in four homes across the Latrobe Valley region still contain asbestos today.

This is the second survey conducted by the Taskforce, and it confirms the findings of the first survey with regards to the levels of understanding around the risks of asbestos exposure in Latrobe Valley homes.

“While many people are aware of the dangers of asbestos, some still believe that it only presents a risk if it is disturbed,” said Chair of the Taskforce, Latrobe Health Advocate Jane Anderson.

“As asbestos products are nearing the end of their life cycle, they are naturally degrading and may be releasing deadly asbestos fibres.

“It is also concerning that a large number of homes built before 1990 are still not being checked for asbestos before renovations. We know that DIY home renovation is a very popular activity, and some people may not know that they could be putting themselves, their families and their neighbours at risk.

“Some know that asbestos is commonly found in places such as eaves, wall linings, and in wet areas, but do not know that is also frequently found in vinyl floor underlays and backings, and was also used in flooring adhesive, window sealants and the electrical meter box.

“There are so many instances where asbestos can be found, it is impossible to understand the risks without undertaking asbestos awareness training.

“The survey found that only 13% DIY home renovators have undertaken formal training, and worryingly, two out of five said they planned to undertake renovations on properties built before 1990 in the next 12 months.

“This year, the largest group of DIY home renovators was found to be women aged 50 – 54, and so we know that home renovation activities are very popular with women, too.

“We encourage everyone to contact a professional to check for asbestos before works commence to minimise the risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. There is a lot of information available on the Asbestos in Victoria website, and you can also contact your local council,” said Ms Anderson.

– ENDS –

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/