Commencing in February 2019, the Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce has undertaken a wide-ranging review into how asbestos is identified, managed and disposed of across the broader Latrobe Valley region. The Taskforce, which numbers 18 member organisations including state government, local councils, unions and community groups, has presented a total of 21 Recommendations to the Victorian Government this week.
“These recommendations are about minimising the risks of asbestos exposure by increasing awareness and training, developing behaviour change programs, strengthening current regulations and adding new ones where gaps have been identified” said Chair of the Taskforce, Latrobe Health Advocate Jane Anderson.
“The most-needed change identified by the Taskforce is the management of asbestos in residential properties. There is no clear line of authority, and it is very concerning that across all sectors of the community, the real impacts and risks of asbestos exposure are not fully understood.
“The absence of one central body that takes responsibility for residential asbestos means that people don’t know where to go for help, and so they can’t readily access the information needed.
“With 4,500 Australians known to die every year from asbestos-related disease, it is absolutely essential that information and education programs are implemented as soon as possible.”
The recommendations also include new restrictions to the way homeowners handle any asbestos-containing materials on their own properties, to align with the rules that contractors must follow.
“While there have been safeguards in place for many years for workers who may come into contact with asbestos, unfortunately these have not been extended to our homes,” said Ms Anderson, “and we know there is far more asbestos in our homes than in our workplaces.
“It is a significant problem that is not going away. The implementation of these recommendations will change the approach to managing legacy asbestos right across the whole state, and will result in lives being saved.”