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Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Su­sanne Reilly @SusReilly ■ Visit www.change.org to sign the pe­ti­tion.

THE Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment’s As­bestos Safety and Erad­i­ca­tion Agency says in the next 20 years 30-40,000 Aus­tralians will be di­ag­nosed with an as­bestos-re­lated dis­ease.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, due to the long pe­riod be­tween ex­po­sure to as­bestos and the on­set of the dis­ease, the num­ber of peo­ple di­ag­nosed will con­tinue to rise.

It said Aus­tralia has the high­est re­ported per capita in­ci­dence of as­bestos-re­lated dis­ease in the world and in 2010, 642 Aus­tralians died from mesothe­lioma- a can­cer as­so­ci­ated with ex­po­sure to as­bestos.

The As­bestos Dis­eases So­ci­ety Aus­tralia (WA) has started a pe­ti­tion ti­tled Sup­port the pas­sage of the As­bestos Dis­eases Com­pen­sa­tion Bill 2013, which calls for leg­isla­tive re­form to bring WA into line with other Aus­tralian states.

It ad­dressed the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil and said WA was in need of changes and while these would be a land­mark move for WA, as­bestos vic­tims in other states have had ac­cess to this kind of jus­tice for many years.

“Pro­vi­sional Dam­ages, the ‘once and for all rule’, should be amended in as­bestos dis­ease ac­tions so that, where the vic­tim of a tort de­vel­ops, sub­se­quent to judge­ment, an in­jury or dis­ease which is of a dif­fer­ent or more se­ri­ous char­ac­ter than the in­jury or dis­ease from which the per­son suf­fered at the time of judge­ment, a Court will be au­tho­rised to award fur­ther dam­ages to that vic­tim,” it said.

Slater and Gor­don as­bestos lawyer Laine McDon­ald said WA had fallen be­hind the na­tion when it came to bring­ing jus­tice to vic­tims.

“Western Aus­tralian as­bestos vic­tims need two leg­isla­tive changes which would give Western Aus­tralians the same kind of jus­tice of­fered to vic­tims in other states,” she said.

“Firstly, cur­rently in Western Aus­tralia, as­besto­sis suf­fer­ers can only claim com­mon law com­pen­sa­tion once. This means if they go on to de­velop a fa­tal dis­ease, like mesothe­lioma, they are not able to be com­pen­sated for that deadly con­di­tion.

“This leaves vic­tims with a heart-break­ing dilemma. They must gam­ble on whether to claim now and for­feit any chance of com­pen­sa­tion for a ter­mi­nal dis­ease; or do noth­ing and run the risk of miss­ing out on com­pen­sa­tion for their cur­rent as­besto­sis.”

She said the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would al­low vic­tims to re­ceive pro­vi­sional dam­ages for their first ill­ness and make a fur­ther claim if they de­vel­oped a more se­ri­ous ill­ness later.

She said the sec­ond area of leg­isla­tive re­form re­lated to what was known as Sul­li­van ver­sus Gor­don dam­ages, which would al­low as­bestos vic­tims to be com­pen­sated for the care costs of any­one they look af­ter, when they’re no longer able to care for them.

“As­bestos vic­tims who care for their young child, el­derly par­ent or part­ner with a dis­abil­ity, for ex­am­ple, are cur­rently miss­ing out un­der Western Aus­tralian law be­cause they can­not be com­pen­sated for their do­mes­tic ser­vices,” she said.

“The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would mean vic­tims can claim for the com­mer­cial cost of re­plac­ing the care that they would nor­mally have pro­vided if they hadn’t be­come ill or passed away.”

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