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Beyond the Ban: Ending the Asbestos Legacy

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Event description

On 31 December 2003, the total ban on all forms of asbestos came into effect in Australia. Twenty years on, our asbestos legacy remains, with an estimated 6.4 million tonnes in Australia's built environment. 

As part of Asbestos Awareness Week, the Victorian Asbestos Forum has brought together leading experts to discuss what has been achieved, what still needs to be done and the importance of continuing, coordinated efforts to end the lethal legacy of asbestos.

Investigative journalist Matt Peacock will host the following keynote speakers as well as a panel discussion:

Opening reflections
Danny Pearson MP – Minister for WorkSafe and the TAC, Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop

Health impacts and research
Kim Brislane – Chief Executive Officer, Asbestos and Dust Diseases Research Institute

Community-led activism
Liam O'Brien – Assistant Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions and member, Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

Policy challenges
Malcolm Sim – Emeritus Professor, Monash University Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health

Sally Weir – Principal Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
Paul Bastian – Chair, Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency


Date: Tuesday 21 November 2023
Time: 9am–1pm
Location: Level 12, 321 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

This event is free to attend – please register by Wednesday 8 November.

We look forward to seeing you there. 


About the event

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause serious health problems, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. In 2003, Australia banned the use of asbestos in all new products and buildings, but approximately 6.4 million tonnes of asbestos remain in the built environment.

This half-day conference is a valuable opportunity for people who work in the asbestos space to connect, reflect on what has been achieved and try to positively shape future actions. 


About the speakers

Award-winning investigative journalist Matt Peacock wrote about former asbestos manufacturer James Hardie in the book, Killer Company, which was turned into a TV mini-series, Devil's Dust. Matt has worked for many ABC TV and radio programs, and was chief political correspondent for current affairs radio in Canberra as well as foreign correspondent in London, Washington and New York. His areas of specialty are politics, science and the environment. Matt contributes to a range of newspapers, magazines and books, and is an Adjunct Professor of Journalism with University of Technology, Sydney.

Danny Pearson MP has been the Labor Member for Essendon since 2014. In June 2020, he was sworn in as the Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Government Services and Minister for Regulatory Reform in the Victorian State Government. Danny held the Creative Industries portfolio until June 2022 and was the Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services. From June until December 2022, he added the Housing portfolio to his responsibilities. In December 2022, he was appointed the Minister for WorkSafe and the TAC as well as the Minister for Consumer Affairs. In October 2023, he became the Minister for Transport Infrastructure and the Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop. Danny's committed to helping create a fairer, more just and decent society for us and for future generations.

Kim Brislane has more than 30 years' experience and expertise in the NGO sector. She is the Chief Executive of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Disease (ADDRI) which is doing exceptional work to improve the diagnosis of and treatment options for mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases. Kim also is on the Executive Committee of the Australian WHO CC Network. Kim’s priority is to drive awareness, partnerships and action to address and stop asbestos-related disease.

As ACTU Assistant Secretary, Liam O'Brien is passionate about ensuring workers have the right to safe, healthy and decent work. He's a member of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council, Safe Work Australia and Jobs and Skills Australia Consultative Forum. At the ACTU, Liam leads the movements policy, industrial and campaigning work on workplace health and safety, and workers’ compensation matters, and is also responsible for the skills and vocational education and training portfolio. Liam is based in Melbourne.

Malcolm Sim is an occupational and environmental physician who is an Emeritus Professor in the Monash University Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health. Malcolm has longstanding research and professional interests in the prevention of occupational dust diseases, including his involvement in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry and as a lead investigator in establishing the Victorian Registry for silica-associated diseases. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Australian Honours list for significant service to occupational and environmental medicine. Malcolm is based in Melbourne.


About the Victorian Asbestos Forum 

The Victorian Asbestos Forum is an interagency working group that promotes a whole-of-government approach to the identification, management, removal and disposal of asbestos in Victoria. The forum also leads Victoria's implementation of the Asbestos National Strategic Plan. 


About the venue

Enter the building via La Trobe Street. Take the lift to Level 12, where you will be guided by signage to the correct space.

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