darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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December 1, 2011

National Asbestos Awareness Week has coincided with the launch of the Parliamentary Group on Asbestos Related Disease (PGARD) which is being supported by Gippsland MPs Russell Broadbent and Darren Chester.

PGARD is an apolitical group which is open to all Senators and Members to enable them to come together and raise awareness of asbestos related disease. Mr Broadbent is the co-chair of PGARD with Mr Chester one of 10 founding members.

Around 60 people attended the launch including PGARD founding members, key stakeholders, law industry representatives, affected families and community workers. Also in attendance were Gippsland Asbestos Related Disease Support (GARDS) Chief Executive Officer Vicki Hamilton and members Brian Clegg, Dorothy Roberts and Marie Smith.

Guest speaker was Matt Peacock who is the author of ‘Killer Company: James Hardie Exposed’.

Mr Broadbent said the group would advocate on behalf of those affected by asbestos related disease.

“Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos related disease in the world, with nearly 10,000 recorded cases of mesothelioma since records began in the 1980s,” Mr Broadbent said.

“While most of this is attributed to men who worked with asbestos up until the 1980s, the rate of diagnosis in women is increasing as we begin to experience a third wave of sufferers from home renovations.

“Too many lives have been affected by asbestos related disease and together we must work together to address the asbestos-related issues. PGARD aims to be a conduit between the local community and the parliament on asbestos related issues.”

Mr Chester commended GARDS on its work and said he looked forward to working with the organisation as part of his role with the Parliamentary group.

“GARDS has done an incredible job in advocating on behalf Gippsland families who have been affected by asbestos related disease,” Mr Chester said.

“Credit must also go to Russell Broadbent who has helped setup PGARD to give MPs and Senators a chance to raise awareness of asbestos related issues at a Federal level.

“I’m looking forward to working with Russell to promote the work of groups such as GARDS in raising awareness of asbestos related issues.”

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