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Barham, Jan to the Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Health, and Minister for Medical Research

Regarding Baryulgil, a remote Aboriginal community north of Grafton, where asbestos was mined and milled from the early 1940s until 1979:

    1. Has the Government carried out an assessment of the extent of damage to the health of the residential Aboriginal community caused by asbestos exposure?
    2. If so, when was it conducted and what were the conclusions?
  1. Is the Government engaging in any ongoing monitoring of asbestos-related disease risks and incidence in the Baryulgil community?
  2. Has the Government implemented any programs or services, for example, health checks, to address the issue of asbestos-related health impacts in the Baryulgil community and in the few surviving miners who worked at Baryulgil?
  3. How is the Government responding to and liaising with local doctors who, according to the ABC News report of 30 January 2014, state that they 'are diagnosing new cases of asbestos-related illnesses regularly' both in the few surviving miners as well as in the people who, as children, played 'in the pile of asbestos tailings left lying around.'?
Answer -

I am advised by the Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research:

  1. to (4) In 1984 a Parliamentary Inquiry into The Effects of Asbestos Mining on the Baryulgil Community - Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs was conducted. The full report is available on the Parliament of Australia website.
    Past mining activities and adverse health claims have been investigated and are the subject of on-going monitoring and management by the Dust Diseases Board, which falls under the responsibilities of the NSW Minister for Finance and Services, The Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP.
    The NSW Health Public Health Unit continues to provide public health advice and support to responsible regulatory agencies and departments concerning dust related diseases
Question asked on 19 November 2014 (session 55-2) and published in Questions & Answers Paper No. 20
Answer received on 19 December 2014 and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 22 (Prorogued Ed)