Federal funding to help tackle asbestos

Monday, 05 March, 2012

Applicants from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia have been awarded grants under the Comcare Asbestos Innovation Fund, as announced by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten.

The fund, launched by the federal government in December 2010, is designed to encourage the development of practical programs and research which raise awareness of asbestos, improve its management and removal, and provide better treatment and support for sufferers and their families.

Shorten said he is particularly encouraged by the strong number of applicants for funding for a variety of projects.

Brian Sketcher, from Asbestos Audits in Queensland, received $40,000 to promote his booklet ‘Identifying Asbestos in your Home’ to a wide audience - not only in Queensland but in other states - as well as developing a second resource book aimed specifically at electricians.

Dr Malcolm Feigen from Austin Health in Melbourne received $185,500 over two years to explore the effects of high-dose hemithoracic radiotherapy for localised pleural mesothelioma, using advances in technology.

Mark Brims of BSC Electronics in Perth received $250,000 over two years to develop a portable, real-time, asbestos fibre, air-based, early warning system, while Benjamin Hardaker from Sydney company AECOM received $28,500 to test a proof of concept around the design and development of a health and safety field tool to assess soil sites potentially contaminated by asbestos.

Jocelyn McLean from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown in Sydney received $30,000 to develop a living well program for patients following treatment to optimise their recovery and improve their quality of life.

The Baw Baw Shire Council in Victoria received $170,000 over 30 months to develop a domestic asbestos awareness and training program for local government professionals, home renovators and workers in the waste and building industries.

Shorten said, “Tragically, an estimated 30 to 40,000 Australians will be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease over the next 20 years.

“Many Australians unfortunately believe asbestos no longer poses a danger to the community, or places them at serious risk by handling this deadly material, especially home renovators who often don’t realise the dangers involved.

“The Asbestos Innovation Fund, underwritten by Comcare, the federal health and safety regulator, is a key way of raising the awareness of the dangers of asbestos and hopefully of finding new ways of treatment for those suffering from asbestos-related diseases.”

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