The Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce was established by the Victorian Government in 2019 to review how asbestos is identified, managed and disposed of across the broader Latrobe Valley region.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2021 Asbestos Survey. Your contribution will help the Taskforce form a better picture of the community's understanding, awareness and attitudes towards asbestos.
The survey results will shape the objectives of the work being undertaken by the Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce.
The results of the third annual asbestos survey conducted by the Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce shows a significant fall in the number of people who believe that asbestos only poses a danger if disturbed. This reveals an increase in awareness that asbestos products are coming to the end of their lifespan and are naturally degrading and may be releasing deadly fibres.
- 92% agree that asbestos is very common in Australian buildings
- 85% agree that even a small amount of asbestos can be very dangerous
- 96% agree that anyone doing renovations needs to be mindful of asbestos.
Illegal dumping of asbestos and the health impacts of asbestos exposure continue to be the two highest rated concerns, with asbestos in power stations declining from 37% in 2019, to 12% in this survey.
There has been a continuing decline in the number of people who say they are confident or very confident in their own ability to identify materials that may contain asbestos. This has fallen from 39% in 2019, to 31% in 2020 and 23% in 2021. This is positive, as asbestos was used in more than 3,000 building products and it is very difficult to identify the most common applications without formal training.
In responding to the questions about home renovations, 69% completed this section of the survey, with more than half saying they had undertaken home renovations in the past three years, and one in five saying they intended to undertake renovations in the next 12 months.
With regards to home renovation works recently completed, the number of home renovators assessing for the presence of asbestos themselves is still very high at 37% (33% in 2020, 36% in 2019). This is of concern as only laboratory testing can confirm this for certain; it is impossible to tell by simply looking at a product whether it contains asbestos or not.
Of concern is that one in three properties (32%) built before 1990 are still not being assessed for asbestos prior to renovation, which signifies a key area in which to concentrate efforts. This is especially important as 70% of respondents indicated they were planning to undertake home renovations in the future, and 30% of all home renovators surveyed did all of the renovation works themselves without any professional help from tradespersons.
Today there continues to be a high level of awareness of asbestos and asbestos-related issues in the Latrobe Valley:
- 88% agree that asbestos is very common in Australian buildings
- 83% agree that even a small amount of asbestos can be very dangerous
- 96% agree that anyone doing renovations needs to be mindful of asbestos.
The two most highly rated concerns regarding asbestos are illegal dumping and the health impacts of asbestos exposure.
While almost one third (31%) of all respondents are confident in their own ability to identify asbestos containing materials, only 22% have had any formal training. Over half (56%) have been involved in renovations on properties built before 1990 and 73% state they would do at least part of the work in a kitchen or bathroom renovation themselves.
In responding to the questions about home renovations, 61% completed this section of the survey, with more than half saying they had undertaken home renovations in the past three years, and one in five saying they intended to undertake renovations in the next 12 months.
With regards to home renovation works recently completed, there has been a decrease in the number who undertook a risk of asbestos exposure assessment themselves, instead of engaging professionals. This figure has gone from 36% in 2019 to 15% in 2020, which can only be viewed as positive. However, 9% are still doing asbestos removal themselves. Reasons for doing so include believing they had the skills/knowledge to remove asbestos properly (30%), and to save money (50%).
There is a high level of awareness of asbestos and asbestos related issues in the Latrobe Valley. The two most highly rated concerns regarding asbestos are the health impacts and the illegal dumping of asbestos.
Nearly two in three (65%) have known someone who has died or whose health has been affected as a result of asbestos exposure.
The vast majority (95%) have undertaken home renovations, with 68% reporting they had renovated properties built before 1990, when use of asbestos-containing materials was still common.
While awareness of asbestos related issues is high, 39% claim they are able to identify materials that may contain asbestos, but only 29% have had any formal training.
DIY Home renovator section
The DIY home renovator section of the survey revealed that 67% have undertaken home renovations in the past three years, and just over half (56%) reported that an assessment of the risk of asbestos exposure was undertaken on properties built before 1990.
Of concern is the 36% who undertook a risk of asbestos exposure assessment themselves, without engaging professionals. Only 13% had received formal training in the safe handling and disposal of asbestos.
Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) DIY home renovators went on to remove asbestos themselves. The majority (57%) who removed asbestos themselves state that it is because they have the skills/knowledge to do so.
Two out of five (43%) reported that they were likely to do renovation work in the next 12 months, and of these:
- 11% have had formal training
- 28% have accessed information on safe asbestos removal prior to removal and disposal
- 33% reported to use their "own common sense" when it came to asbestos removal and disposal.
The questions in this survey have been based on a national benchmark survey undertaken by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency with permission. Visit https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au for further information.
2021 Survey questions
Privacy Collection Notice
The Victorian Government is committed to protecting personal information provided by you in accordance with the principles of the Victorian privacy laws.
This Privacy Collection Statement relates to all submissions collected in relation to the Latrobe Valley Asbestos Benchmark Survey being conducted in Victoria. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) provides secretariat services to the Latrobe Valley Asbestos Taskforce, the members of which comprise DELWP, Environment Protection Authority, WorkSafe Victoria, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, Sustainability Victoria, Latrobe Health Assembly, Latrobe Valley Authority, Resource Recovery Gippsland, Latrobe City Council, Wellington Shire Council, Baw Baw Shire Council, Asbestos Council/Gippsland Asbestos Related Disease Support Group (GARDS), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Electrical Trades Union, Australian Workers Union, Australian Services Union.
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