Louise Williams is 57 and has been battling the deadly asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in the hope of beating the odds and staying alive, so that she can continue to raise awareness of the danger posed by asbestos exposure in the home.
According to the Asbestos Management Review Report¹, the number of women diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in Australia is on the rise. The report released by Bill Shorten, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, shows that most women were exposed to asbestos in the home.
A tireless campaigner for the victims of asbestos, Louise Williams has endured four major operations and more than 30 chemotherapy sessions and will undergo further treatment in December 2012.
This week Louise has come out publicly to support National Asbestos Awareness Week (26 to 30 November 2012) and to express her disappointment for what she says is “the slap on the wrist token sentence” handed down to former directors of James Hardie.
Louise has started a petition at communityrun.org to register a protest with Julia Gillard over the court decision to have the penalties for the former directors of James Hardie reduced.
The NSW Court of Appeal has reduced the fines and the board disqualification periods of former James Hardie directors, most of whom will now be free to take up new board positions from 2013.
Louise would also like to take this opportunity to warn home renovators of the hidden dangers posed by asbestos in older homes.
“Asbestos is found in most homes built before the mid-1980s and can cause deadly cancers if the fibres become airborne and are inhaled,” Louise Williams told Australian Women Online.
“There has already been at least 4700 deaths from mesothelioma in Australia since records began in the early 1980s and 25,000 more are expected to die from it over the next 40 years,” she said. “Currently, each year 500 men and 100 women develop mesothelioma in Australia, and this is expected to rise to 900 new cases a year by 2020.”
The fall out from the manufacture of asbestos products in Australia is currently the responsibility of the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. However, with an increasing number of fatalities being attributed to non-employment-related asbestos exposures¹, asbestos-related diseases can and should be considered a public health issue by the Federal Government.
Australian Women Online would like to commend Louise Williams on her bravery and tireless efforts to raise awareness of this issue and urge all Australians to sign her petition at communityrun.org
1. Asbestos Management Review Report dated June 2012 http://www.deewr.gov.au/WorkplaceRelations/Policies/AMR/Documents/AsbestosManagementReviewReportJune2012.pdf