Serafina Salucci has lost a lung and undergone several rounds of radiotherapy since being diagnosed with mesothelioma six years ago.
On Wednesday the 43-year-old joined two of Australia’s biggest unions to call on state and federal governments to fully fund and implement all recommendations from the Asbestos Management Review Committee (AMRC).
Ms Salucci believes a national awareness campaign will stop others from suffering like she has.
“The reason why public awareness and education is so important is the fact that there is no cure for mesothelioma,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“Once you’ve got it, that’s pretty much it.”
Living with an asbestos-related disease has “been hell“, Ms Salucci said.
“You can’t put it into words what it’s been like and what it’s done to my life and how difficult it’s been.”
The Australian Manufacturer Workers’ Union (AMWU) and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on Wednesday launched a campaign calling on the federal government to “address the deadly threat of asbestos that is still present in many older homes, government and commercial buildings”.
In Australia, which has the highest per capita rate of asbestos-related disease, two thirds of houses built between World War II and 1983 still contain asbestos, the unions said in a joint statement.
“It’s time for the Australian government to implement a strategy to effectively tackle the threat of asbestos,” AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian said.
“That means the recommendations from the Asbestos Management Review Committee need to be implemented and fully funded to eradicate asbestos from our environment by 2030.”
Mr Bastian said the rates of asbestos-related deaths will increase until 2020.
“This is why we need to establish a dedicated National Asbestos Authority, and a national set of laws.”
CFMEU assistant secretary Lindsay Fraser said many people are exposed to asbestos during renovations.
Removal of asbestos from government and public buildings should be a priority, he added.
WHAT THE UNIONS WANT
• A National Asbestos Authority
• National laws governing asbestos waste disposal sites
• Certificates displayed in residential buildings to alert people to the risk of asbestos
• Removal of asbestos from government and public buildings by 2030
• Public asbestos awareness campaigns
• Asbestos education and national standards for those working with asbestos
• Asbestos content reports for residential properties constructed before 1987.