Page 3059 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 23 August 2005

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commence in January 2006, for property owners to obtain asbestos survey reports when selling their property or engaging in high-risk activities.

The new legislation was the first of its kind in Australia and internationally to place a requirement on residential property owners when managing asbestos. The territory had no benchmark to measure how this legislation would work in practice. As a result, an asbestos task force was established to undertake further work for us, which included: delivering a public awareness campaign; analysing the extent of asbestos in the ACT; assessing the risks of exposure to asbestos, including identifying high risk areas; developing strategies for the inspection, reduction and control of risks, and increasing public awareness of asbestos and its risks.

In February 2005 the task force began a public awareness campaign using well-known personality Don Burke as the face of the campaign. The campaign was designed to better educate the community about managing MCAs in and around homes and buildings and to inform them about the new asbestos laws. It used various approaches to increase awareness, including TV commercials, publications, a web site and stakeholder briefings.

A review of the campaign in May 2005 found that it had increased people’s awareness of the new laws, awareness of the locations and presence of MCAs in their homes, and levels of confidence in asbestos management. Despite the positive results, the level of awareness of the likelihood of people having MCAs in their homes remains low overall, suggesting that further targeted awareness and education campaigns will assist in changing attitudes and behaviours in relation to MCAs.

A large component of the task force work, as required by the legislation, was to undertake a survey of asbestos in the ACT, based on empirical data. The task force surveyed approximately 600 residential properties and analysed over 250 existing survey reports on non-residential properties. From the analysis the task force was able to determine the phase-out of MCAs and the likely locations at which they could be found.

The task force has adopted a conservative approach based on these findings to conclude that asbestos building material had virtually been phased out by 1 January 1985. This does not absolutely rule out the possibilities of materials being used after this date in outbuildings such as dog kennels or by building trades as offcuts or packing materials. Based on this work of the task force it would be reasonable to conclude that:

the vast majority of homes built before 1982 are likely to have materials containing asbestos;

homes built between 1982 and 1984 may have building materials containing asbestos;

homes built from 1985 onwards are very unlikely to have materials containing asbestos.

Other key findings of the extent and impact survey as are follows:

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