Lung Foundation Australia welcomes Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt’s decision to accept and work towards implementing all recommendations from the interim advice of the National Dust Disease Taskforce.
The taskforce was established in 2019 by Minister Hunt to investigate the growing number of silicosis cases in individuals working in the engineered stone industry, and to lead a national coordinated response to protect the Australian community from dust diseases.
“Today we welcome the decision of Minister Hunt – which reflects and builds upon the collaborative approach of the taskforce – to take a strong proactive stand to support workers and their families,” Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke said.
“We’re pleased to see recommendations made by Lung Foundation Australia, and our partners, have been echoed by the taskforce.
“We know awareness and education campaigns support preventative health behaviours and early detection. As the leading peak body supporting people impacted by lung disease, Lung Foundation Australia is well placed to leverage the previous success of our national awareness and public health campaigns to reduce the impact of dust diseases on all Australians.
“We will continue to work with business, industry, unions, clinicians, patients and their families to increase knowledge and raise awareness of the importance of air quality to lung health.
“This is a great step forward and we will continue to advocate for a harmonious approach from state and territory governments to work towards a future where no Australian worker is diagnosed with an entirely preventable lung disease.
“Lung Foundation Australia looks forward to continuing conversations with all levels of government to ensure the recommendations are implemented.”
The Taskforce’s interim advice has identified early steps that can be taken by governments to address the issues identified to date, these include:
- Developing a targeted education and communication campaign to raise awareness of the risks of working with engineered stone.
- Ongoing staged development of a national dust disease registry, with specific data requirements recommended by the Taskforce.
- Targeted investment in key research activities, to improve understanding of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
- Developing national guidance on screening workers working with engineered stone.
- Development of a national approach to identify occupational silica dust exposure and other future occupational diseases.
In establishing the taskforce in 2019, the Morrison Government committed $5 million to support the work of the taskforce including funding for new research to better understand, prevent and treat preventable occupational lung diseases. You can read the full announcement here.
A final report from the taskforce will be delivered to the Council of Australian Governments’ Health Council by the end of 2020.
Lung Foundation Australia will continue discussions with government around dust diseases in addition to a range of lung health priorities including air quality, vaping, and lung cancer nurses and screening.