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All of government approach on asbestos related diseases needed

Latrobe City Mayor, has called for a unified government approach to deal with the tragedy faced by victims of asbestos related diseases.

By Latrobe City Council - 6th April 2001 - Back to News

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Latrobe City Mayor, Councillor Brendan Jenkins has called for a unified government approach to deal with the tragedy faced by victims of asbestos related diseases.

Cr Jenkins said there needed to be a sympathetic and coordinated approach by all levels of government working together to tackle the debilitating legacy inflicted on workers previously exposed to asbestos in industry.

"The effects of exposure to asbestos, the crippling illnesses, the need for care, and the trauma felt by families coping with those facing a death sentence, are yet to peak. The actual exposure to the fibres has in most cases long gone, but the effects of that exposure in the community, and the toll being taken is still in its infancy," Cr Jenkins explained.

"As the number of victims climbs, local resources are being stretched to the limit. This a serious problem for the community and the services provided through voluntary organisations and organisations that receive minimal government funding.

"There will be increasing need for medical care as further cases develop. Additional resources need to be ploughed into respite and palliative care; and the community will need more and more help from governments of all persuasions to minimise the impact upon those affected," Cr Jenkins said.

"Essentially this is a State responsibility. The majority of workers exposed to asbestos were employed by the State through the State Electricity Commission (SEC). State Governments are responsible for Workcover and many employment issues. Also, it cannot be forgotten that it was the former State government who enjoyed the profits from the split up and sale of the components of the SEC to private industry.

"However, all governments will be required to divert energy and resources to supporting those in the community burdened by industry’s dark legacy. That is why we are calling for a whole of government approach.

"In its submission to the Latrobe Valley Taskforce, Latrobe has stressed the accelerating need for resources, and we have called upon the State Government to implement measures that can have an immediate impact on easing some of the burden for those affected through a number of recommendations," Cr Jenkins said.

"Streamlining of employment records, the screening of groups at high risk of developing asbestos related diseases, and assistance with data collection will not cure victims, but will at least lead to early identification of cases and an enhanced quality of life for those affected, through treatment.

"We are also backing moves to reopen the Moe Hospital as a unit capable of providing specialist medical treatment services for those affected by industrial illness, for medical research and for palliative care services," Cr Jenkins added.

"One thing is certain, the incidence of asbestos related diseases will not decline for many years to come, and the reminders of the legacy inherited by the victims of industrial ignorance and incompetence will haunt the Latrobe Valley for years to come. It is our duty and the duty of governments of all persuasions to minimise the hurt that will be felt by giving assistance where called upon," Cr Jenkins concluded.


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