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Launch of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management 2019–2023

The Member for Curtin, Ms Celia Hammond MP, officially launched the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management 2019–2023 (NSP 2019–2023) on behalf of the Australian Government at the 2019 Asbestos Safety Conference held in Perth from 11–13 November 2019.

The conference welcomed over 250 domestic and international delegates and speakers from across the asbestos management system, including work health and safety, public health, communications, advocacy, local government and environmental management and remediation.

The focus of the conference was on jurisdictions working together and learning from each other to ensure the successful implementation of NSP 2019–2023.

Being held in Western Australia, the conference was also able to highlight the unique history and experience of Western Australia’s asbestos legacy, from the Wittenoom mine site clean-up to progress in medical research being undertaken at the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases.

Holding the event in Perth meant that many delegates were able to attend the 2019 Asbestos Safety Conference for the first time. First time attendees accounted for 49 per cent of delegates (128 people). In addition, 31 per cent of delegates had attended between one and three previous agency events, and 17 per cent of delegates had attended more than three other agency events, showing that the conference still holds interest for long-term attendees. For the first time, we offered a digital registration option so delegates could live-stream the entire conference if unable to attend in person.

There was positive media coverage of the conference and of the launch of NSP 2019–2023 across print and radio. This helped to further awareness of asbestos health risks in the community

The 2019 conference featured the largest program offered by our conferences to date, with 50 speakers from across Australia and internationally. There were featured sessions on the International Ban Asbestos campaign, asbestos awareness and communications, waste disposal and clean up, the role of local government in asbestos management and the challenges local government faces, and work being undertaken in the non-government sector. Eleven plenary sessions, two featured panels and six track breakout sessions meant that each section of the asbestos management cycle was covered in detail.

Due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now planning for an event in late 2021 as the mid-point for the five-year NSP 2019–2023, highlighting achievements to date and what will still need to be done to implement the plan successfully.