The Council has over recent months faced very significant challenges in relation to its management, as an organisation, of issues relating to asbestos and asbestos-related risks.

The Council acknowledges that there have been organisational failures in relation to those matters. However, the Council has acted diligently, and continues to act, to address all identified issues.

The Council has acted with intent to strengthen and address asbestos management in a more concerted way since May 2017, further to Council’s actions since 2012 to improve overall safety and asbestos management.

In 2018 the Council has taken the following steps in its management of asbestos:

  • Appointed a Chief Safety Officer to oversee the Council’s asbestos management response.
  • Continued a comprehensive Asbestos Management Training & Awareness Program with hundreds of Council workers receiving formal training or awareness presentations.
  • Established a 24-hour staff asbestos hotline to improve the ease of staff notification of potential ACM incidents.
  • Allocated over $4 million towards asbestos remediation and related activity.
  • Initiated the Asbestos Response Team (ART). A new initiative created to afford Council with its own asbestos response capability and allow Council to remediate many orphaned (dumped) asbestos scenarios, without the timely and expensive requirement of engaging licensed asbestos removalists.
  • Initiated a multi-agency Asbestos Management Committee (in February) which brings together all key stakeholders including SafeWork NSW, The Environment Protection Authority, United Services Union and worker representatives. The Office of Local Government was also formally invited to participate. 

The actions of the Council relative to asbestos management are highlighted in a number of documents, including:

  • Its submissions to the Minister for Local Government made on 20 December 2017 and 22 February 2018, in response to the notifications of intention to suspend the Council. 
  • Council reports. Go to Council Meetings
  • BMCC media releases.  Go to the Media Centre

The need to identify and manage asbestos containing material is a challenge faced by Councils across NSW. Many Council-owned facilities contain asbestos containing material, as do approximately one-third of all homes in Australia, because asbestos was commonly used in the past for various building purposes. 

It is only when fibro or other bonded asbestos sheeting is broken, damaged or mishandled, fibres can become loose and airborne and may pose a potential risk to health.

As matters of potential asbestos containing material arise, Council will continue to respond appropriately in accordance with its Asbestos Management Plan and procedures and take the necessary steps to address the issue and to minimise risks as a matter of urgency. The Council has been working with SafeWork NSW on all active asbestos management matters and will continue to do so.

At times this may cause some degree of disruption to facilities or services however it is important that we take a precautionary approach to community and workplace health and safety.