Launch of financial support for Canberrans with asbestos-related illness

The Australian and ACT Governments are pleased to announce the commencement of a financial support scheme for Canberrans with an asbestos-related disease caused by living in a ‘Mr Fluffy’ contaminated property.

The ACT Loose-Fill Asbestos Disease Support Scheme will provide financial support to people who currently have, or contract in the future, an asbestos-related disease as a result of living in a loose-fill asbestos insulation affected property in the ACT, and their family dependants.

The Australian and ACT Governments have committed $16 million to the scheme, funded equally, which will be administered by the ACT Government.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Commonwealth’s contribution of $8 million will provide critical support to Canberrans who have been impacted by deadly asbestos-related illness.

“Our homes are a sanctuary for us all, sadly these individuals developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses,” Minister Hunt said.

“I have been deeply moved by the stories I have heard on this issue and proud that our Government will contribute to the support of these Canberrans, ensuring ongoing care.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Canberrans remain focused on the deadly legacy of loose-fill asbestos insulation on our community’s health and its built environment.

“This Scheme is an important next step in the government's response to Mr Fluffy. The Scheme is designed to provide comprehensive and timely support to enable recipients and their families to receive the treatment and care they need, when they need it most,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

“I want to recognise the advocacy of Mr James Wallner and his family, which led to the establishment of this scheme. Mr Wallner sadly passed away after being diagnosed with mesothelioma last year.”

“In addition to financial support to cover out-of-pocket medical costs, the Scheme also makes available up to $8,500 per year for family members who are carers and lump sum payments for dependants. Payments are also available for care and household services, home and vehicle modifications and loss of income.”

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino said the Australian Government worked closely with the ACT Government to establish the scheme as quickly as possible.

“Given the severity of asbestos-related diseases, its impacts on people’s lives and the shortness of life once diagnosed, the Australian and ACT Governments have put the scheme in place as a priority. I am pleased the scheme is about to commence and will start assisting people suffering from the disease with ongoing support,” Assistant Minister Marino said.

The scheme will cover out-of-pocket medical or related expenses, loss of income as a result of asbestos disease and make payments to dependents. Due to the latency of diagnosis, the scheme will not have a fixed end date.

“It is important the scheme operates for many years to come as we know people can be diagnosed decades after exposure and experience significant financial burden,” Assistant Minister Marino said.

Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja thanked those who advocated strongly for the Scheme to be established.

“I particularly want to thank the Wallner family for their tireless advocacy to see this Scheme established on behalf of all those who have suffered illness, and on behalf of those we sadly know will develop an asbestos-related disease in years to come, as a result of living in a Mr Fluffy home,” Senator Seselja said.

“The stories of Canberrans who have suffered greatly from Mr Fluffy asbestos related illnesses are heartbreaking.”

“I am proud to we are able to deliver this scheme, and hope it will go some small way to relieving the suffering of those who fall ill, and their families.”

The scheme is designed to provide financial support for people who contract an asbestos disease from living in a loose-fill asbestos affected home not related to their work. Where someone has had a work exposure to loose-fill asbestos insulation, workers’ compensation would be available.

Further information on the scheme, which is now open, is available at www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/industrial-relations-and-public-sector-management…

Media Contacts

Mathew Langdon (Minister Hunt): 0400 645 779
(Assistant Minister Marino): 0439 488 321
Cassandra Choake (Senator Seselja): 0427 839 164
Kaarin Dynon (Chief Minister Barr): 0422 772 215