National benchmark survey of awareness and attitudes to asbestos 2018

The 2018 national benchmark survey of awareness and attitudes to asbestos has found that there has been an overall positive improvement in awareness of the dangers of asbestos, how informed people feel about asbestos, and their ability to identify asbestos in the home.

ASEA has conducted the research every two years since 2014 to track shifts in community awareness about the risks of asbestos. It measures responses from the general public, tradespeople, DIY home renovators, and real estate agents. The 2018 survey was also conducted with the same or very similar methodology as 2014 and 2016 with a total of 2,490 survey respondents across the four categories.  

The survey findings strongly indicated that there has been a marked increase across all four categories in perception of being informed about asbestos and its dangers - either retuning to 2014 survey levels or higher. Additionally, there is a clear upwards trend in all four categories recognising the importance of being knowledgeable about asbestos and its related dangers.

Key findings:

  • 84% of the general public felt at least moderately informed about asbestos (up from 76% in 2016)
  • The proportion of tradespeople who felt poorly informed or worse about asbestos halved
  • More than 1 in 5 tradespeople indicated a desire for more training on asbestos and its related dangers
  • 58% of DIY home renovators felt very informed or informed (up from 49% in 2016 but down slightly from 61% in 2014)
  • Females, people aged 18-39, those renting their property and those who speak a language other than English were all observed to have significantly lower levels of feeling informed than other groups, as were DIY home renovators based in both Melbourne and Adelaide.
  • 59% consider importance of being knowledgeable about asbestos and its related dangers to be 'very important' (up from 52% in 2016 and 43% in 2014)
  • 64% of DIY home renovators described knowledge of asbestos as very important (54% in 2016)
  • DIY home renovators aged 30-39 are more likely to undertake a renovation or demolition
  • Where an asbestos assessment was undertaken, 22% of DIY home renovators said they did it themselves.
  • Where asbestos was identified, 20% of home renovators removed it themselves.
  • Of those who removed themselves, 46% said it was because they knew how to do it, 39% said it was to save money.
  • 21% didn’t seek any information and relied on their own “common sense/judgment”
  • 58% of real estate agents/private landlords described knowledge of asbestos as very important (39% in 2016)
  • There was an increase in the proportion of real estate agents and private landlords who have had formal asbestos training (24% in 2018, up from 20% in 2016 and 19% in 2014). However 47% of real estate agents and private landlords indicated they felt they needed more training.
  • Self-rated confidence in the ability to identify materials containing asbestos has remained relatively stable over the three surveys
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