On 25 March 2022 the ACT Government launched the “Loose-Fill Asbestos Disease Support Scheme” (the Scheme).
The Scheme is designed to provide financial assistance to sufferers of an asbestos related disease which has arisen as a result of inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres from residing in a “Mr Fluffy home”.
“Mr Fluffy” arose as a result of two companies that imported and installed loose-fill asbestos insulation in homes around the ACT in the 1960s. Since the launch of the Scheme, those who have suffered with an asbestos disease as a result of exposure to asbestos in a Mr Fluffy home have had no compensatory recourse or financial assistance of any type.
The Scheme was implemented in 2022 following campaigning by the late James Wallner and his support network. James Wallner was just 54 years of age when he died from mesothelioma in 2021, after having been exposed to asbestos during his childhood whilst growing up in a ‘Mr Fluffy’ house.
The Scheme will serve as a long-lasting legacy to James who spent the last few months of his life fighting for financial assistance with his medical expenses.
James O’Loghlin was recently the MC at the Asbestos Safety and Management conference hosted in the Blue Mountains last month. James, who was instrumental in setting it up the scheme alongside James Wallner, wife Linda Wallner and brother Bruce Wallner, presented a talk on the scheme.
Am I eligible?
You may be eligible for financial assistance from the Scheme if you have been exposed to asbestos from having lived in a Mr Fluffy affected property in the ACT, and you have developed an asbestos related disease including mesothelioma, asbestosis or another asbestos-related conditions.
Claims lodged on behalf of asbestos sufferers are administered by the ACT Government’s workers’ compensation insurer, EML.
What assistance does the Scheme offer?
The most significant financial assistance that the Scheme offers is via the following two ways:
- loss of earning capacity as a result of asbestos disease (payable if you are under pension age at 100% per cent of you average wage calculated over the previous three years leading up to cessation of work/incapacity), including loss of superannuation; and
- lump sum payments for financial dependents of sufferers of terminal conditions between about $580,000.00 for those aged 68 or older and $800,000.00 for those aged up to 52 (where “financial dependent” includes retirees who reside together, share expenses of daily living and are in receipt of the age pension, or another form of pension).
The Scheme also offers the following valuable support:-
- unlimited reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket medical or treatment related expenses, including psychological support to sufferers and their immediate family members;
- reimbursement of reasonable home or vehicle modifications that are associated with the asbestos-related disease;
- care and household services provided by third parties or gratuitously by family members (capped at a maximum sum per year);
- funeral costs (in certain circumstances); and
- financial advice.
I was diagnosed with an asbestos related disease before the commencement of the Scheme. Am I still eligible for support?
Yes. The Scheme is retrospective and applies to claimants diagnosed on or after 1 January 2014.
I have been exposed to asbestos from residing in a Mr Fluffy home, but I haven’t been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. What should I do?
First of all, the chance of you developing an asbestos-related disease is low, although there is a risk. It is important that if you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, a persistent cough or fatigue and tiredness that you discuss these symptoms with your doctor who may refer you for a chest x-ray or CT scan. If you are diagnosed with an asbestos related condition in the future, then you will be entitled to seek assistance through the Scheme as the Scheme has no fixed end date, at this stage.