Chief Executive Officer foreword
The risks posed by asbestos can impact all Australians. The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency administers the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness 2014-18 to contribute to eliminating asbestos-related disease in Australia. This annual operational plan outlines how the agency will support the operation of the National Strategic Plan by providing a national focus on asbestos issues which go beyond workplace safety to encompass environmental, public health and cross-government issues.
The agency’s Annual Operational Plan for 2016–17 sets out how we will achieve this.
The agency will work across work health and safety, environment, public health and cross government initiatives to:
- Build evidence to inform practical approaches to asbestos management and awareness
- Raise awareness about the risks posed by asbestos in the built environment
- Contribute to the coordination of asbestos issues across all levels of government in Australia to reduce the risks of asbestos exposure
- Monitor and track progress towards eliminating asbestos-related diseases in Australia
- Identify and address future challenges posed by asbestos containing material in the built environment.
In achieving these activities, the agency’s operations and decision making will be guided by the principles of the National Strategic Plan, and our work will demonstrate a commitment to:
- Evidence-based decision making
- Public participation
In recognition of the agency’s role under the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013, the activities the agency will deliver are identified as research and/or promotion. During 2016-17, the agency will promote two flagship projects that will contribute to our understanding of asbestos risks in Australia:
- Researching an asbestos awareness campaign, that will promote asbestos research and the National Strategic Plan
- Conducting behavioural research to better understand the choices, barriers and motivations for industry and homeowners to safely manage asbestos risks and identifying practical responses to these challenges.
These projects will contribute to building evidence in Australia to reduce the impact of asbestos-related diseases.
Chief Executive Officer
5 August 2016
Working towards an asbestos-free Australia
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency’s aim is to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres in order to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia. This will primarily be achieved through administering the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness 2014-18.
The agency’s functions are prescribed by Section 8 of the Act as follows:
- To encourage, coordinate, monitor and report on the implementation of the National Strategic Plan, as well as to review and publish the plan
- To provide advice to the Minister about asbestos safety
- To liaise with Commonwealth, State , Territory, local and other governments, agencies, or bodies about the National Strategic Plan, or asbestos safety
- To commission, monitor and promote research about asbestos safety.
The agency’s goals and work plan are informed by the six strategies of the National Strategic Plan, which are:
- Best Practice
- International Leadership.
History and context
Australia has been one of the world’s leading users of asbestos containing material, and because of this, has one of the world’s highest incidences per capita of asbestos-related disease, particularly for mesothelioma. Due to the long latency period between exposure to asbestos and diagnosis of mesothelioma, the number of cases are expected to continue rising with estimates that they may peak between 2020 and 2025.
Asbestos containing material has been progressively banned in Australia since the 1980s and on
31 December 2003 a national ban on all uses of chrysotile asbestos came into effect. There is a remaining legacy of asbestos containing material in the built environment. As asbestos containing materials continue to age, the likelihood of their deterioration and need for removal increases.
The agency brings together key stakeholders who can contribute to reducing the risks of asbestos-related disease through increased coordination, collaboration, and consultation. This includes oversight from the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council, and advice from its Research Advisory Committee and the Building, Construction and Demolition Sectors Committee.
ASEA works with all levels of government to assist in responding to the strategic risks of asbestos in Australia. The agency coordinated the development of a Rapid Response Protocol through the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) Imported Materials with Asbestos Working Group. The protocol is the first of its kind, enabling government agencies to work cooperatively and efficiently across jurisdiction and portfolio lines when products have been identified as containing asbestos. This allows agencies to work through the practicalities of concerns that such products may cross, or have crossed, state lines.
The agency also works closely with industry, employer groups, unions, local governments, researchers, medical experts and health professionals, and community support groups. These groups represent the diverse stakeholders who can work collaboratively to reduce the impact of asbestos-related disease.
The elimination of asbestos-related disease is a long-term and complex challenge. To achieve this, we need to first work towards a better understanding the current risk factors and exposure pathways in the Australian community. There is no single source of evidence to measure this. The agency will focus on developing a national picture of asbestos risks in Australia. This will support all jurisdictions in Australia in responding to asbestos management and awareness to deliver behavioural change to reduce current exposure risks.
The agency’s planned performance is set out in the table below, and aligns with the provisions of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013, and goals of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness.
Outcome: Assist in the prevention of exposure to asbestos fibres and the elimination of asbestos-related disease through implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness in Australia 2014-2018.
The work of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency will contribute to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan through promotion and delivering research and evidence to inform asbestos management policy and practice across work health and safety, public health, environment and cross government initiatives. This will be achieved through working with governments at all levels, industry and social partners, and researches, and with the oversight of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council, which is a tripartite body.
Our people and workforce planning
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is a small dedicated team committed to reducing the impact of asbestos-related diseases in Australia. The agency’s vision for our people is to foster a collaborative and adaptive team, with technical skills and experience to deliver the work described in this corporate plan. Our people are employed under the Public Service Act 1999 and abide by the APS values and code of conduct.
The agency engages some support services from Department of Employment and Shared Services Centre. This support is provided in the form of enabling services to assist the agency to conduct its day to day business in a streamlined and cost effective manner. These support services are formalised through Memorandums of Understanding between the agency and the Department of Employment and the Shared Services Centre. The services include information technology, human resources support, and other administrative services.
Risk oversight and management
This operational plan is ambitious setting out a considerable number of activities across the full range of priority areas. The first key risk identified is ensuring ASEA’s procurement is undertaken in a timely manner and in line with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, and deliverables are achieved by 30 June 2017.
The second key risk identified is ensuring the agency’s expenditure of money within its statutory functions prescribed by the Act. This recognises the primary role of asbestos management policy is the role of state and territory governments, and the agency works to encourage national coordination through the administration of the National Strategic Plan through delivering practical, objective and evidence-based research and promotion activities.
These two key risks are noted in the agency’s strategic risk register
The agency’s risk management is overseen though an internal risk management committee, and an audit committee. This adheres to the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The agency is also subject to annual audits by the Australian National Audit Office.
The first National Progress Report on the National Strategic Plan will be published in November 2016. The agency will seek quarterly updates from state and territory governments to provide quarterly reports to the Minister. The agency is also required to present an annual report to Parliament on its operations.