Aug 31, 2023

A thought-provoking forum was held in Sydney on August 24 about the global campaign to stop diseases caused by silica and asbestos.

L-R: Liam O’Brien, Rita Mallia, Maddie Feledy, and Luky Amalia.

Organised by Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA activists Maddie, Nick and Bella after visiting Union Aid Abroad partner organisation Local Initiative for OSH Network – Indonesia (LION), who are campaigning for a ban on asbestos in Indonesia. The forum was a fundraiser to allow LION to buy monitoring equipment to detect asbestos and help further awareness of the health risks in their communities.

Hosted by the Sydney Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, the forum heard from three speakers who are leading the fight to stop dust diseases.

Rita Mallia, President of CFMEU Construction & General NSW, spoke about how the CFMEU began a campaign against engineered stone because of the devastating health impacts it was having on workers. She reminded the crowd how much still needs to be changed in Australia, such as introducing a ban on engineered stone.

Liam O’Brien, Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, told the audience that “It’s our moral duty to warn the rest of the world about the risks of asbestos.” He said that 600,000 people are exposed to silica in their workplace every year in Australia, putting them at risk of lung disease.

Luky Amalia, a researcher from the Indonesia National Research Innovation Agency and PhD candidate at Sydney University spoke about how asbestos is still widely used in Indonesia because it is a cheap building material, weather resistant and people are unaware of the risks to their health.

The forum raised $2000 through donations. If you would like to donate to this fund, please follow this link.

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