Release type: Media Release

Date:

$1.5 million Asbestos Innovation Fund launched

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

People suffering from asbestos-related diseases will benefit from a new Government fund announced today by the Minister of Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans.

The $1.5 million Asbestos Innovation Fund will sponsor programs and research to prevent and better manage asbestos exposure, as well as improve treatment for asbestos-disease sufferers.

“It is a sad reality that asbestos has touched, and continues to touch the lives of many ordinary Australians. Tackling the threat of asbestos diseases in Australia will require action and collaboration on all levels,” Senator Evans said.

“And it will require new research into better treatments for those Australians suffering from exposure to asbestos, and their families.”

Senator Evans said the Asbestos Innovation Fund would be underwritten by Comcare as part of its role to improve the management of the Commonwealth’s common law asbestos responsibilities.

“Comcare will work with Safe Work Australia and other Commonwealth agencies with an interest in asbestos-related diseases to ensure that any new programs and research under the Innovation Fund complement other programs already underway,” he said.

Funds will be available over three years from 1 January, 2011 for practical programs and research on asbestos awareness, management and removal as well as improved treatment and support for sufferers and their families.

Applications to the fund will be assessed by Comcare, assisted by independent experts.

Senator Evans said the fund would complement the recent establishment of a National Asbestos Management Review, headed by Mr Geoff Fary and comprising an expert advisory group.

The review team is to develop a national plan by June 2012 to improve asbestos awareness, management and removal.

“Through collaboration between government, industry, universities, research centres, hospitals and the wider health sector we can increase public awareness, prevent asbestos exposure and reduce suffering from its effects,” Senator Evans said.

Comcare will shortly call for proposals to be considered for funding under the Asbestos Innovation Fund.