Patrick Marshall of Ballina is dealing with his illness related to asbestos.
Patrick Marshall of Ballina is dealing with his illness related to asbestos. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Asbestos diseases still rising

THIS is Asbestos Awareness Week and people are being urged to learn about the potential risks of being exposed to this killer substance.

Patrick Marshall from Ballina was diagnosed with asbestosis in 2007 after being exposed in the workplace during the '60s and '70s in Sydney when he worked as a refrigeration mechanic.

Mr Marshall has been seeking compensation from his former employers for the past two years.

"I don't know whether I will see any money before I go," he says.

He advises anyone who suspects their house may contain asbestos to leave it alone.

"Don't touch it, call the local council for advice about its safe removal."

Nick Bos runs the Asbestos Sufferers Support Group and helps victims and their families from Ballina to Tweed Heads.

He believes that with the current rush to renovate old houses there may be a second wave of asbestos related disease coming as home owners unwittingly disturb asbestos dust during building.

"I believe any house built before 1990 has some asbestos in it," he said.

"I thought we may have over estimated how harmful asbestos is when we started campaigning in the '70s.

"Now I think we drastically underestimated how deadly it is."

The Asbestos Sufferers Support Group offers practical support to victims and can also help them fight for compensation.

"It can be a very complex process getting compensation, but we can put people in contact with specialist legal advice," he said.

Dust Diseases Board CEO Lisa Hunt said people were mistaken if they thought the incidence of asbestos-related diseases is decreasing.

"These diseases affect more people each year with rates expected to continue increasing," she said.

"We have not reached a peak; there are a lot more people in the community who will be affected in some way for many years to come."


Asbestos facts

  • Avoid disturbing asbestos materials.
  • Be aware of asbestos materials in your surroundings.
  • All workplaces must have a register of asbestos materials.
  • Always use asbestos removalists licensed by WorkCover.


Asbestos help

  • Go to for information regarding asbestos materials found in homes.
  • Consult Fibro and Asbestos: A renovator and homeowner's guide available from WorkCover on 13 10 50 or
  • For information about dust diseases call (02) 8223 6600 or toll free on 1800 550 027 or visit
  • For Asbestos Sufferers Support Group contact Nick Bos: 0417 705 534