Asbestos Awareness Week, 2011

Monday November 21 - Friday November 25

Why Asbestos Awareness Week?

Some people may be asking why is the last week in November Asbestos Awareness Week?

The reason the union movement and Asbestos Diseases Support and Advocacy groups allocate a week each year as ‘Asbestos Awareness Week’ is because asbestos is such a huge problem still. Australia has an unenviable record of one of the world's highest rate of asbestos related diseases and a legacy of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in many workplaces and buildings - public and private, commercial, domestic and industrial.


The use of all forms of asbestos in Australia has been banned since 2003, including its import and export. But, because of the legacy of its use, we have not solved the problem of asbestos exposures for either people at work or in the general community.

Last year a coalition of unions around Australia, community, asbestos support and advocacy groups and the Cancer Council and developed an National Declaration: Towards an Asbestos Free Australia. (Read more)

This prompted the Federal government to establish the Asbestos Management Review: an national inquiry which will make recommendations to government on how to deal with this nationwide problem. In our view, the ONLY solution is to implement a staged removal program as per the Declaration. 

In addition to a number of events being run in Victoria (and elsewhere), this year's Asbestos Awareness week marks the coming together of the two Melbourne based support groups ADSVIC and AISS under a new organisation Asbestos Wise.

Activities and events - Melbourne

Monday November 21 
Launch of Asbestos Awareness Week Bella Union Bar, 6pm

  • Launch of Asbestos Wise.
  • Film screening -  Breathless from Canada

followed by supper, drinks and discussion. 
Bella Union Bar, Trades Hall (Cnr Lygon and Victoria St, Carlton South). Free, all welcome.

Wednesday November 23 
Asbestos in Schools
  - Run by the Australian Education Union
Asbestos labelling in schools – where are we up to and what are the issues? 

The forum will hear from a teacher member talking about his experience with the labelling pilot, and another to talk about a recent exposure to asbestos at the school: circumstances, process and outcomes.
4.30pm – 6pm  AEU 112 Trennery Cres, Abbotsford
All  welcome - but registration required by Nov 23 - Email Gayle Bernhardt

Thursday November 24
Annual VTHC Asbestos Lecture - Asbestos Management Review progress and update

Panel discussion:

  • Geoff Fary, Chair Asbestos Management Review
  • Deborah Vallance, National OHS Manager, AMWU
  • CFMEU speaker,
  • David Clement,   Asbestos Wise President

Also at Bella Union Bella Union Bar, Trades Hall, 6pm
More information on Bella Union events: email or phone Renata Musolino (03 9659 3571) 

Friday November 25  - Two events at BMW Edge, Federation Square:

  • 10.15 am Launch of Cancer Council Mesothelioma Booklet
  • 11am Asbestos Wise  Commemoration Service

Followed by CFMEU BBQ on the banks of the Yarra River. Free, all welcome

Gippsland Asbestos Awareness Week events

Wednesday November 23

Asbestos Seminar
This seminar is of interest to anyone interested in asbestos disease, legal issues,  the Work Health and Safety Regulations or general information on asbestos issues.  Speakers include Dr Anthony Sasse (Specialist Respiratory Physician) &  Andrew Dimsey (Principal with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers)
6pm - GARDS Office, 41 Monash Road, Newborough

Thursday November 24
Come in at 10am for a chat and cuppa at the Davies and Moller pharmacies (13 Tarwin Street, and 239 Princes Dve in Morwell). Gold coin donation to help support the work of GARDS in the community

Friday 25 November

GARDS Ecumenical Service

The annual GARDS Ecumenical service to remember those who are suffering and those who have succumbed to asbestos disease, with Guest speakers inc Lisa Sturzenegger (General Manager Operations, WorkSafe Victoria) and John Gordon, Barrister & Jurist, choir and a free BBQ lunch provided by the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council

11am, Centenary Rose Garden, Commercial Road, Morwell

More information on any of these events: Vicki Hamilton 0407274173 or the GARDS office: 5127 7744

What you can do:

If you are unable to attend any of these events, consider organising something at your workplace.