Residents and tradies involved in rebuilding Black Summer bushfire-destroyed homes, as well as those undertaking renovations are being reminded during this this year’s upcoming National Asbestos Awareness Week to ‘Think Twice About Asbestos’.

Eurobodalla Labor for Council candidate and local builder Matthew Findlay said asbestos is still present in millions of homes, as well as public and commercial buildings across Australia.

“In homes built before 1990, asbestos can still be found anywhere,” Mr Findlay said. “This affects one in three homes nationwide. This campaign focuses on home renovators and tradespeople who need to recognise that the danger of asbestos is far from over. And of course, the next asbestos-type disease is silicosis, which comes from silicon-based products and it’s the new killer in the future if we don’t act now.”

Almost 1000 homes or properties on the south coast were lost in the 2019-20 bushfires, 500 of which were in Eurobodalla Shire including 10 heritage-listed buildings.

“With all of the re-building going on, and quite a few of those being owner-builders, we support raising awareness among the public and key trades about the health risks associated with exposure to asbestos fibres,” Mayoral candidate David Grace said. “Where asbestos products can be found, we want owners and builders to be prompt and to contact a licensed asbestos professional.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of do-it-yourself renovations and home improvements has increased, and so too has the risk of exposure to asbestos,” he said.

Sadly, every year in Australia, an estimated 4,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases because of past exposure to asbestos.

“This is why we are asking everyone to stay safe, by taking these simple steps,” Mr Grace said. “First, ‘get in the know’ by finding out where asbestos can be in a house.

“Then second, ‘take it slow’ and not disturb or damage asbestos. And, at any point during home improvements, ‘get a pro’,” Mr Grace added.

A licensed asbestos professional can locate, manage or remove asbestos from a renovation.

Batemans Bay builder and Labor candidate Matthew Findlay said by preventing exposure to asbestos fibres, asbestos-related diseases can be eliminated.

“I’d encourage everyone, including my fellow tradies, to find out more about staying safe around asbestos because by reducing our exposure to asbestos, we can reduce our risk of developing asbestos related diseases,” Mr Findlay added.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has two facilities which can safely dispose of asbestos materials: Surf Beach Waste Management Facility off George Bass Drive, and Brou Waste Management Facility on Brou Lake Road.

Eurobodalla Labor for Council’s  candidates in the 4 December local government elections are: Mayor, David Grace from Broulee; and Councillors, Maureen Searson from Batehaven; Matthew Findlay from Batemans Bay; Claire McAsh from Moruya; Deirdre Russack from Narooma; and Jack Egan from Rosedale.