Media Release: Safe management of asbestos made easier for NSW councils

26 November 2012

NSW councils will soon be better equipped to safely manage asbestos and provide advice to ‘mum and dad’ home renovators worried about asbestos in their homes, following the launch of a Model Asbestos Policy and Guide by the Hon. Don Page MP earlier today.

President of the Local Government Association of NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said in 2011 Safe Work Australia reported there were 201 asbestos-related deaths in NSW due to occupational exposure to asbestos.

“Given asbestos was used extensively in home and building construction up until the mid 1980’s, it’s essential that councils are able to provide the community with the best possible advice on asbestos before they carry out home renovations, demolish a shed or remove old vinyl floor coverings and insulation,” said Cr Rhoades.

“As asbestos and its safe disposal is regulated under numerous pieces of legislation, it can be difficult for councils to determine who is the responsible authority in certain asbestos-related scenarios, when to contact WorkCover or take the lead role in providing asbestos advice,” he said.

“The Model Asbestos Policy and Guide was developed by the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) together with the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) for councils to use and tailor to their own local area, to help them meet their legislative obligations.”

President of the Shires Association of NSW, Cr Ray Donald, said thanks to unsafe work practices in the past, the number of people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases is expected to continually increase until 2018. It’s time to buck that trend.

“Councils across the state have an important role in minimising exposure to asbestos for residents, the general public, and their own employees in council workplaces and when dealing with asbestos contaminated land,” he said.

“In 2013 the LGSA will run a series of workshops designed to help councils develop, adopt and implement their own asbestos policy, based on the Model Policy, and train staff so they have the necessary skills to advise the public and to identify, monitor, contain or dispose of asbestos without affecting their long-term health.”

“We will also continue to seek additional resources from other levels of government to assist councils with their ongoing needs in meeting their asbestos management obligations,” said Cr Donald.

“I strongly encourage NSW councils without an asbestos policy to take advantage of the work carried out by the LGSA and HACA and use the Model Policy to guide the development of their own locally-based one,” said Cr Donald.

The launch of the Model Asbestos Policy and associated Guide is part of national Asbestos Awareness Week, which is being held from 26 – 30 November 2012 (asbestosawareness.com.au).

The LGSA thanks the Local Government Reference Group, staff from councils across NSW and the members of the HACA Working Group who contributed useful advice during the development of the Model Asbestos Policy.


Media Enquiries
Cr Keith Rhoades, AFSM    President, Local Government Association:  0408 256 405
Cr Ray Donald                      President, Shires Association:  0438 699 910
Alexandra Power                  LGSA Senior Media Officer: 0408 603 093