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Cancer Council Victoria welcomes plan for asbestos-free future

Friday 17 August, 2012

Cancer Council Victoria has welcomed a new plan by the Australian Government to remove asbestos from all commercial and government buildings by 2030 taking a vital step towards reducing the risks of asbestos-caused diseases.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper said the asbestos management review provides clear recommendations for minimising the risks posed by the abundance of asbestos in Australian buildings

"Australia has the highest per capita incidence of asbestos-related disease in the world so it's very important these recommendations are implemented as soon as possible, to reduce the significant burden of disease caused by asbestos, especially mesothelioma," Mr Harper said.

Mesothelioma is the second most deadly cancer in Australia, with a five-year survival rate of just 6% and a life expectancy at diagnosis of between 10 and 12 months.

Mr Harper said last year alone, 150 Victorians were diagnosed with this deadly disease so given the poor survival outcomes for mesothelioma, it is imperative we do all we can to reduce the incidence of the disease through steps such as removing asbestos from buildings and developing laws for the safe handling, removal, storage and transport of asbestos.

"The biggest concern today is that home renovators and tradespeople who are prepared to cut corners rather than using a licensed professional will tamper with asbestos-containing materials," he said.

"There is a need for more education around the dangers of asbestos and it is imperative that the government commits to educating people that even short-term or occasional exposure to asbestos fibres can cause mesothelioma and other fatal cancers," Mr Harper said.

"Our priority is to work with all levels of government, businesses and the broader community to follow through on the recommendations in the review."