The risks posed by asbestos can impact all Australians. This is the first corporate plan developed for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, and is designed to outline the operation of the agency and how the agency’s work supports the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness.
The Corporate Plan 2015–16 sets out how we will do that and how we will measure our performance over the next four years. The agency will work in partnership with experts in asbestos, industry and employer groups, unions, governments at all levels, researchers, medical experts and health professionals, community groups, and victims of asbestos-related diseases. This represents the diverse stakeholders who are affected by asbestos and asbestos-related diseases. In working with these stockholders, the agency will coordinate collaboration and consultation 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 for Asbestos Management and Awareness, and our work will demonstrate a commitment to:
- Evidence-based decision making
- Public participation
Peter Tighe, Chief Executive Officer
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency presents the 2015-16 corporate plan, which covers the periods of 2015-16 to 2018-19, as required under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
The agency provides a national focus on asbestos issues which go beyond workplace safety to encompass environmental and public health issues. This corporate plan sets out the planned performance of the agency for 2015-19 and shows how this will be achieved.
The agency has developed the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness which has been endorsed by the Australian Government and all state and territory governments in Australia. The corporate plan outlines how the agency will support the operation and aims of the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness. Over the four years of this corporate plan, the agency’s focus will be to support and coordinate the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness by:
- increasing public awareness about the risks of asbestos, including how to identify and manage asbestos risks in the home
- coordinating national issues that relate to asbestos to increase evidence and share information and practical strategies to support the safe management and targeted removal of asbestos
- commissioning, monitoring and promoting research and information sharing about asbestos to reduce asbestos exposure in order to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia.
This corporate plan will be reviewed and updated annually to ensure that the agency is working effectively towards the aim to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia.
Figure 1: Relationship between the National Strategic Plan, ASEA Act, Annual Operational Plan and Annual Report, PBS and Corporate Plan.
Working towards and asbestos-free Australia
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency’s purpose is to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres in order to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia. This will be primarily achieved through the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness.
The agency’s functions are prescribed by section 8 of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013 as:
- 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 on asbestos safety
- To commission, monitor and promote research about asbestos safety.
The agency’s goals and work plan are informed by the 6 strategies of the national strategic plan, which are:
History and context
Australia was 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 of mesothelioma are expected to continue rising with estimates that they may peak between 2015 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 they will be removed, or their condition deteriorate, will increase.
The agency commenced operation on 1 July 2013 following a recommendation from the Asbestos Management Review Report in June 2012 to establish a national independent agency. This report recognised the diverse stakeholders and lack of coordination of issues related to asbestos in Australia.
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 the Research Advisory Committee and the Building, Construction and Demolition Sectors Committee. The agency works with other government partners and forums with complementary aims including the Department of Employment, Safe Work Australia, the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities working groups and agencies with responsibility for workplace health and safety, public health and the environment. The agency also works closely with industry, employer groups, unions, local governments, researchers, medical experts and health professionals and community support groups representing 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 first to work towards better understanding the current risk factors and exposure pathways in the Australian community in relation to asbestos. There is no single source of evidence to measure this, and over the four years of this corporate plan, the agency will focus on building a national picture of asbestos risks in Australia. This will inform responses to asbestos management and awareness to deliver behavioural change to reduce current exposure risks.
The agency will also support the government’s deregulation agenda and ensure that the work delivered under the corporate plan does not seek to increase red tape, while still ensuring that a precautionary approach to asbestos safety is maintained.
The agency’s planned performance is set out in the table below and aligns with the aim of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013, and the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness.
Our 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.
Measurement notes: As this is the first corporate plan, the performance measures will be tested in the first year and the measures and targets are expected to be refined over each year.
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 is supported by the Department of Employment and the Shared Services Centre. This support is provided in the form of enabling services to assist the agency to conduct our 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 and cover finance, property, information technology, human resources support and other administrative services.
Risk oversight and management
The agency’s risk management is overseen though an internal risk management committee, and an audit committee, in line with the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, and the agency is subject to annual audits by the Australian National Audit Office.
The agency is required to present an annual report to Parliament on its operations.