New Asbestos Diseases Research Institute 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



Australia has the highest asbestos mortality per capita in the world; between 1987-2010 exposure to asbestos will have caused 16,000 mesothelioma and 40,000 lung cancer deaths1. According to John Della Bosca, the Minister for Industrial Relations for the State of New South Wales (NSW), the incidence of asbestos disease in his State is high: "Due to the widespread use of asbestos in manufacturing, building and construction and refinery processes that occurred over the last century, asbestos related disorders continue to be diagnosed at a rate of 300 new cases a year in NSW." Ms. Ella Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Sydney-based Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, warns that the incidence of asbestos related disease has reached epidemic levels: "Over the next 30 years thousands of people will be diagnosed with asbestos diseases."

The Government of NSW has implemented programs designed to address a wide range of problems faced by asbestos sufferers and their families:

  • a specialist Court, the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW, to adjudicate and expedite asbestos claims. In NSW, an asbestos case can come before the Court for directions within 1-2 hours of issue; usually, a hearing will take place in Court, at home or in the hospital within two days. It is routine for asbestos cases to be concluded within three months.

  • the Workers’ Compensation Dust Diseases Board of NSW, a no-fault scheme which pays pensions, medical expenses and death benefits and also funds medical research into dust diseases.

On November 25, 2002, John Della Bosca announced that the State Government had allocated A$2.4 million (approximately US$1,405,500/ £875,000) over the next 3 years to set up and run the new Asbestos Diseases Research Institute. According to the Minister, this centre of excellence will: "bring together a substantial proportion of all asbestos related diseases patients from across New South Wales for specialised case management and will optimise the standards of treatment in a network of hospitals throughout New South Wales." Plans for the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute were devised after consultation with groups such as the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, the NSW Dust Diseases Board and the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia Inc.

January 15, 2003


1Australia's National Occupational Health and Safety Commission estimates that between 1987-2010 exposure to asbestos will have caused 16,000 mesothelioma and 40,000 lung cancer deaths.



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