Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - Asbestos Education Committee

To mark Global Asbestos Awareness Week (1-7 April), the Asbestos Education Committee (AEC) in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) today announced 28 award winners in the national ‘Betty Awards’ for their significant contribution to community education during national Asbestos Awareness Month. 

Of the 563 councils nationally, 343 (61%) registered their participation, an increase of 181% - the highest number of council participants since the campaign launched in 2012.  In NSW, 131 (86%) of councils participated - a 98% increase on 2013, and with the exception of WA (59 Councils - 42%) over 50% of councils in all states and territories joined with the AEC to educate their communities.

Peter Dunphy Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee that conducts the national campaign said, “Key to the campaign’s success is the invaluable contribution of stakeholders and community leaders who are able to reach out directly to their communities to help them understand asbestos products and educate them on safe practices,” Mr Dunphy said.

The annual Betty Awards (named after ‘Betty the ADRI House), are designed to recognise the outstanding commitment of organisations as being community leaders that have gone to extraordinary lengths to work with the AEC in educating Australians about asbestos.

From one of the most remote and under-resourced communities in Australia, the pristine islands of Mornington Shire Council off the far north coast of QLD, to the west coast’s northern City of Greater Geraldton and the southern City of South Perth in WA, to the Illawarra’s vibrant coastal community of Wollongong City Council and the rural pastures of Bega Valley Shire Council in NSW, to the farmlands of Wakefield Regional Council in the mid-north region of SA, to some of the most spectacular coastline of Tasmania’s Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, and the Nillumbik Shire Council on the banks of the Yarra River in Victoria; councils throughout Australia were actively educating their communities with this potentially life-saving message.

“With one in three Australian homes containing asbestos in some form or another, thanks to the invaluable support of councils, together we are educating more Australians than ever before about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely,” Mr Dunphy said.

Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world because Australia was among the highest consumers of asbestos products until a complete ban of asbestos came into force in Australia in 2003 so the work of councils in informing their communities is vital.

“In presenting the Betty Awards we not only recognise the significant efforts of all 28 councils as Australia’s leading Asbestos Awareness campaigners, we also hope this level of participation and high standard of community engagement will encourage all councils to become more actively involved and in doing so, help prevent asbestos-related diseases in their communities,” Mr Dunphy said.

“Not only fibro homes contain asbestos. Asbestos products can be commonly found in and around brick, weatherboard, clad and fibro homes built or renovated before 1987.”

“We know that a high volume of asbestos-containing building products used prior to 1987 still remain hidden dangers in homes and buildings such as garages and farm structures so the support provided by councils is vitally important in helping Australians to become asbestos aware,” Mr Dunphy said.

Since launching in 2012, the campaign has gone from strength-to-strength to become a national awareness and education program providing easily accessible resources enabling governments at all levels, associations, asbestos support groups, research organisations, corporates, small businesses and the media to inform communities about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely.

“Thanks to the incredible support of a record number of organisations from all corners of Australia who participated in national Asbestos Awareness Month, this vital and potentially life-saving message was able to reach more Australians than ever before,” said Mr Dunphy.

For more information about asbestos and how to manage asbestos safely during Global Asbestos Awareness Week visit – it’s not worth the risk.

Please see a detailed list of all Betty Award winners from page two of this media release.

John Jarratt video announcement:

High resolution photographs can be downloaded from:  

Insight Communications  02 9518 4744
Clare Collins  0414 821 957 - [email protected]
Alice Collins  0414 686 091 - [email protected]


BEST ASBESTOS AWARENESS MONTH CAMPAIGNER: Government Department or Organisation - National

Winner:  The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils 

Highly Commended:  Local Government New South Wales

WSROC promoted asbestos awareness and safety during November 2014 by connecting Asbestos Awareness Month with the launch of its EPA-funded Western Sydney Residential Asbestos Disposal Scheme (WSRADS). Participating western Sydney councils included: Blacktown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith.

WSROC developed and distributed two media releases which highlighted the dangers of asbestos and correct removal procedures. One targeted residents who had small amounts of loose asbestos sheeting in the backyard, the second targeted home renovators dealing with larger amounts of asbestos waste. These releases were complemented by advertising in local newspapers encouraging residents to sign up to WSRADS schemes. The campaign was also promoted through mentions in its e-news, and on its website. The success of the campaign is measured by the registrations received for its free pick-up event and the rebate scheme which received over 200 registrations. The WSROC e-news was distributed to 930 targeted subscribers, while the articles posted on WSROC's website received a total of 445 visits.



Winner - Mornington Shire Council

Highly Commended:  Wollongong City Council (NSW)

Mornington Shire Council has supported this campaign against all odds. Being the most remote community council in Queensland, having almost no budget and only coming on board with the campaign on the 4th of November, Mornington Shire Council and their Grants and Communications Coordinator, Layla Kirchhoff managed to hold their very own “Asbestos Awareness Day” and created a video about it

The community had been fighting for some time to have the derelict, asbestos ridden hospital removed from the centre of town as the local children had taken to playing amongst the dust and unstable frame. One of the major aims of Mornington Shire’s “Asbestos Awareness Day” was to educate the younger population about the dangers of asbestos, and how to stay safe - which meant no more playing in the old hospital.

Some of the local kids put on a traditional indigenous welcome dance, the council organised a guest speaker, held workshops and finished it all off with a bush tucker BBQ. Feedback was extremely positive from the community and the efforts of the council and Ms Kirchhoff deserve to be acknowledged not only for finding an extraordinarily engaging way to get information to the community, but also having successfully signed off on having the old hospital removed. They promoted the campaign with posters, flyers and magnets and engaged with media to spread the word far and wide.



Metropolitan NSW
Winner:  Campbelltown City Council
Highly Commended:  Pittwater Council & Camden Council
Commended:  Holroyd City Council
Honourable Mention:  Parramatta City Council

Campbelltown City Council: Winner – Metropolitan NSW
Campbelltown is dedicated to raising awareness about asbestos year round but uses November as a lever to extend further information to the public. Campbelltown executed an ‘on hold campaign’ with an estimated 8,000 callers hearing their Asbestos Awareness message they reached 1000 employees through the council intranet, the special 30 second Mayors message was also broadcast on local radio 6 times with an estimated reach of 30,000 listeners. Posters and flyers were distributed.


Metropolitan VIC
Winner:  Nillumbik Shire Council
Honourable Mention:  Knox City Council, Maroondah City Council

Nillumbik Shire Council: Winner – Metropolitan VIC
Nillumbik Shire Council created a display, including posters, flyers and guidelines about asbestos safety at the Civic Centre entrance where residents, business owners and visitors pass into the Council office. Council provided information to the public via their website, Facebook and twitter, the local paper, and most impressively they engaged with local ‘Men’s Shed’ programs to specifically target a high risk audience (DIYers & tradesmen). After a presentation by council’s Environmental Health Staff, the floor was then opened for the men in attendance to share their experiences with asbestos. This was Nillumbik Shire Council’s first year actively participating in the Asbestos Awareness Month campaign.

Metropolitan WA

Honourable Mention:  City of South Perth



Regional NSW

Winner:  Wollongong City Council
Highly Commended:  Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Mid-Western Regional Council & Queanbeyan City Council
Commended:  Bega Valley Shire Council,  Cooma-Monaro Shire Council,
Honourable Mention:  Albury City Council & Wagga Wagga City Council

Wollongong City Council: Winner – Regional NSW
Wollongong City Council went above and beyond for the 2014 campaign. They distributed media through several traditional and non-traditional mediums, including contacting Bunnings directly to supply brochures to every store in the local government area. They also funded 15 bus shelters which displayed the Asbestos Awareness ‘Don’t Play Renovation Roulette’ messages – site specific to hardware stores and town centre co-branded  a 30 second TVC running on loop in councils foyer to be ongoing. Council also held a WorkCover presentation at a Trade Night at Master Builders Association which is scheduled to become an annual event. Wollongong City Council also hosted Betty and her 2nd birthday party, providing a big blue lamington birthday cake and inviting local media to meet Betty and cover the important asbestos awareness message.

Regional QLD
Winner:  Mornington Shire Council
Highly Commended:  Cook Shire Council
Honourable Mention:  Maranoa Regional Council


Regional SA
Winner:  Wakefield Regional Council
Highly Commended:  District Council of the Copper Coast

Wakefield Regional Council: Winner – Regional SA
This was the first year Wakefield Regional Council participated in Asbestos Awareness Month.  Having held an asbestos information forum for staff earlier in the year, November provided Council with an opportunity to reinforce the message to staff and provide information to the broader community. Council delivered the asbestos awareness message to their community via multiple channels including their E-newsletter, Newsletter, via a link on their website, a community Newsletter (distributed to more than 3,000 residents), displayed posters in foyers, held an information session for staff and hosted a Blue Lamington morning tea which provided a fun forum for what is fundamentally a very serious subject.  Mayor thoroughly enjoyed himself and Council raised money to support research into asbestos-related diseases.

Regional TAS
Honourable Mention:  Glamorgan Spring Bay Council

Regional WA
Honourable Mention:  City of Greater Geraldton & City of Kwinana

Regional VIC
Honourable Mention:  East Gippsland Shire Council



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Contact Profile

Asbestos Education Committee

The Asbestos Awareness  campaign is managed by the Asbestos Education Committee made up of representatives from WorkCover, the ACTU and James Hardie and supported by the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute.  Funding for this campaign was provided by James Hardie Industries SE and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities.

In 2011, the Asbestos Education Committee (AEC) in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) conducted a NSW based campaign to educate homeowners about the dangers of asbestos when renovating or maintaining homes. Following the success of the NSW Asbestos Awareness Campaign, the AEC and ADRI launched a national campaign, Asbestos Awareness Week 2012. In 2013, the AEC and ADRI launched a national Asbestos Awareness Month.

Alice or Clare Collins
P: 02 9518 4744


Asbestos Awareness, Betty Awards, Asbestos Education Committee, Global Asbestos Awareness Week,, The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, Mornington Shire Council, Campbelltown City Council, Wollongong City Council




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