Geoff Wicks points out all the hidden areas in the home where asbestos can be found.
Geoff Wicks points out all the hidden areas in the home where asbestos can be found.

Community gets a look into how to manage asbestos

FOR many people living in older homes, the chance of encountering asbestos building materials is dangerously high.

As part of national Asbestos Awareness Month this November, a travelling asbestos awareness display known as "Betty" paid a visit to Dalby Mitre 10 on Friday.

Named after the organisers' late mother, the purpose-built mobile model home display was built in 2012 and travels around the country raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos in and around the home.

Retirees Karen and Geoff Wicks began volunteering with Asbestos Awareness when Betty was built, and say that their primary aim is to raise awareness and improve education about asbestos.

"Basically we travel around with Betty and show people where asbestos is found and how they can deal with it," Geoff said.

"One-in-three Australian houses has asbestos products in it, and any house build prior to 1987 has a very high chance. It doesn't matter where it's located, or what type of house."

The volunteers also educate communities about the importance of safely managing asbestos-containing materials around the home.

Western Downs mayor Ray Brown said the council strongly supported the endeavour, and that the program would largely target those undertaking do-it-yourself home renovation projects.

"DIY programs on TV motivate people to do things themselves. A lot of us think we can do everything without hurting ourselves, but there risks when you're renovating older buildings," he said.

"There are certainly respiratory diseases that go with this, and coming off a rural property anything is possible. We want people to have the information before it's too late."

Companies such as Mitre 10 also run asbestos awareness training sessions and councils hold conferences in state capitals. Asbestos-related diseases took the lives of more than 600 Australians last year and more than 640 new cases were diagnosed.

For more information visit asbestosawareness.com.au.


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