Release type: Media Release


More action on asbestos


The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten yesterday announced the eight recipients who were awarded funding through the Asbestos Innovation Fund.

“It’s been almost a decade since asbestos was banned in this country and still, today, the dangers of this silent killer remain,” Mr Shorten said.

“The reality is that asbestos-related deaths are not expected to peak until 2020, and that tragically, we are expecting another 30-40,000 people to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in the next 20 years.”

The Fund, launched by the Federal Government in December 2010, is designed to encourage the development of practical programmes and research which raise awareness of asbestos, improve its management and removal and provide better treatment and support for asbestos disease sufferers and their families.

The Labor Government is committed to protecting the health of Australians who might be exposed to asbestos,” Mr Shorten said.

“The costs of asbestos related disease are high. They’ll get higher if we don’t act.”

Applicants from Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia have been awarded grants from the Fund.

• Associate Professor Judith Bauer from the University of Queensland will receive $45,800 to determine the nutritional status, body composition and dietary intake and quality of life of patients with mesothelioma, with a view to advance understanding and knowledge about the nutritional care of these patients.

• Benjamin Hardaker from Sydney company AECOM will receive $79,200 to develop and test a cost effective health and safety field tool to assess soil sites potentially contaminated by asbestos.

• Dr Glen Reid from the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute will receive $125,000 to improve the diagnostic process and treatment outcomes for Malignant Plural Mesothelioma patients.

• Professor Nico van Zandwijk from the Asbestos Diseases Research Foundation will receive $40,000 to produce evidence-based guidelines to assist in optimising the care of patients with malignant mesothelioma and their families.

• Dr Kimberly Stannard from the Queensland Mesothelioma Project will receive $150,000 to test a new treatment regime that combines chemotherapy with tumour specific immune therapy.

• Mrs Glenda Colburn from the Australian Lung Foundation will receive $125,000 to develop a clinical education program for nurses to provide support and coordinated care for patients diagnosed with Asbestos Related Disease.

• Associate Professor Rick van der Zwan from Southern Cross University will receive $96,015 to identify and better understand the negative changes in the social, psychological and economic activities of individuals and families living with asbestos related illnesses.

• Mr Ian Sheppard from the Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia will receive $35,375 to instruct trade students and instructors in South Australia about the dangers of asbestos in their workplaces and how to manage these products correctly.

“According to the International Labour Organisation, someone in the world dies from an asbestos-related disease every five minutes.  In Australia, it is expected that more Australians will die from diseases related to asbestos than were killed in the First World War,” Mr Shorten said.

“The Asbestos Innovation Fund, underwritten by Comcare, the federal health and safety regulator, is a key way of raising the awareness of the dangers of asbestos and, hopefully, of finding new ways of treatment for those suffering from asbestos related diseases”.

Further information on the Asbestos Innovation Fund is available at