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As reflected in the activities reported against the performance criterion of the 2019–20 Portfolio Budget Statement, we have continued our focus on preventing exposure to asbestos fibres and eliminating asbestos-related disease in Australia through coordinating the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management (NSP). We successfully launched the second phase of the NSP in November 2019, having achieved the commitment of governments around Australia to implement the new NSP 2019–2023. The new NSP includes nine national targets to help us measure our progress over the next five years.

Although implementation of NSP 2019–2023 has been challenging for some during the global pandemic, we were able to collect baseline data from jurisdictions against the national targets. The immature nature of the data highlighted the need for jurisdictions to establish a more coordinated and consistent approach to collecting NSP data, involving all agencies with asbestos related responsibilities. We commenced work on a data analysis and reporting framework and developing resources to provide guidance to governments on implementing and reporting against NSP 2019–2023.

We continued engaging and collaborating with stakeholders during 2019–2020. The 2019 Asbestos Safety Conference in Perth allowed stakeholders to learn from each other and support the successful implementation of NSP 2019–2023. We established the Asbestos Awareness Committee and enhanced our stakeholder engagement and communication strategies.

We also developed a strategy to support the NSP national priority area of International Collaboration and Leadership and continued assisting countries across South-East Asia and the Pacific deal with asbestos challenges.

As many of our stakeholders also experienced disruption of their normal activities due to COVID-19 in the second half of 2019–2020, we reprioritised our work to focus on awareness-raising initiatives, the redesign of the agency website and the review of existing research and communication material. We responded to the trend of homeowners undertaking home improvements during the COVID-19 pandemic by developing social media messages to raise community awareness about asbestos exposure risks in the home.

We completed an analysis of the recommendations in research commissioned under our first NSP 2014–2018. It showed that many of the recommendations have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented. The analysis also highlighted areas where further action and research is needed, and we have included this work as part of our 2020–2021 research plan.

As a result of these outcomes, the agency has achieved its target for 2019–2020 of effectively supporting the NSP with research, reporting, evaluation and advice.

The next section highlights our key achievements for 2019–2020.