Acting Presidents Report
Contents It never ceases to amaze me how much we fit into a small amount of
Acting Presidents Report time. The last eight weeks has seen the preparation for and completion
Article from Professor Allen of our 2009 conference, the formation and meetings of a coalition of
Fall related injuries can be Asbestos Support Groups and Unions to continue the fight against
prevented James Hardies, to have them fulfil their moral obligations and
Article from Thady Blundell contribute to the compensation fund set up in 2007 for this purpose.
General Notices Then a quick trip to Sydney for a meeting with The Prime Minister Mr
Support Groups Kevin Rudd, (still a loyal financial member of our Society), This
invitation followed the coalition of Unions and Asbestos Disease
Support Societies writing to the Prime Minister outlining our concerns
CONTACT Q.A.R.D.S.S in relation to James Hardie and the lack of contributions to the
compensation fund which now is looking to pay claims by instalments.
Information & Support Centre Each of these very important events of the past eight weeks deserves a
Level 3, Specialist Centre full explanation. I will try to do them justice.
Brisbane Private Hospital
259 Wickham Terrace
BRISBANE QLD 4000
The 2009 Conference was themed ‘Asbestos Disease, a Holistic
Approach’. Attendance was high with over 250 members receiving
1800 776 412 (free call) some extremely interesting and valuable information. We were very
Office Hours fortunate to have four exceptional Medical Professionals and an equally
Mon – Fri 9.00am to 2.00pm professional and confident lawyer namely Mr Thady Blundell of Turner
Kay & Kerrie
Freeman Lawyers. The day was facilitated by Dr Maurice Heiner with
Web: www.asbestos-disease.com.au key note speakers from the medical fields being Professor Roger Allen,
Dr David Grimes, and Dr Gary Larder. Any person who follows the
Acting President Ray Colbert advice of these professionals could not help but have a better quality of
07 3200 4491 life as well as striving to be a stronger contributor to their communities.
0408 758 963
At the completion of the conference your executive met with the
executives of, ADFA (N.S.W.), G.A.R.D.S. (VIC), AVA (S.A), The
State Secretary A.M.W.U (N.S.W.), The State Secretary of the C.F.M.E.U (Qld), and Mr Thady Blundell,
Managing Partner of Turner Freeman Lawyers, with the view of formalising plans to draw attention to the obvious
failures of James Hardies to meet their moral obligations to the compensation fund set up in 2007.
It was resolved that the attendees of this meeting would form a coalition to fight for full compensation for all
sufferers of Asbestos Diseases and full contributions to be made to the compensation fund so as to not allow
Hardies to implement Instalment payments which would see some people only receiving a fraction of their
compensation entitlements. It was further resolved that in conjunction with the ACTU we would write to the Prime
Minister with a view of gaining the assistance of the Federal Government, therefore assuring a National response
to this urgent matter, as this way stood the best chance of a suitable outcome.
On 29th July we were advised that our representations to the Prime Minister had been successful and that a meeting
with Mr Kevin Rudd had been scheduled for 10.30am Saturday 1st August at the Labor Conference in Sydney.
After meeting with the Prime Minister for more than 30 minutes we were all assured that not only did he concur
with our assessment of James Hardies behaviour but he and his government would do everything they legally
could to assist in a suitable outcome for Asbestos Disease Suffers.
After all this, one could be forgiven for thinking the remaining week, before this newsletter would be one of
reflection, no not so.
On Tuesday 4th August we were invited to meet with Mr Simon Finn (Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney
General), Mr Evan Moorhead MP, Mr Ron Monaghan QCU, Ms Amanda Richards QCU, Mr Michael Ravbar
CFMEU and Mr Andrew Ramsay CFMEU, to voice our concerns at the lack of Government response to some
long outstanding Legislative changes such as the Limitations Act which can impact very unfairly on Latent onset
injury claims, the survival of benefits, if the claimant passes away before their case is determined and a number of
other very important case studies. We have been assured that these and a number of other issues will have answers
when we meet with the Attorney General on the 9th September.
We will as always, keep you informed of these and any other events as they occur. Don’t forget the AGM on
Tuesday 8th September at 10.30am in the Trout Conference Room, 8th Floor, Brisbane Private Hospital.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at this meeting.
Raymond J Colbert
SLEEP DISORDERS IN ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASES
Asbestos pleural diseases ie benign asbestos pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, benign asbestos pleurisy, benign
asbestos pleural effusions and asbestosis as well as the more common asbestos-elated malignancies ie lung cancer and
mesothelioma all have a significant impact on the function of sufferers during the day. However, we spend
approximately one-third of our life asleep. There is very little in the literature regarding the impact of asbestos diseases in
all its varied forms on sleep. Sleep disorders are also common in the community and by middle age, sleep apnoea and
periodic leg movement disorder is found in increasing frequency particular as patient‟s age and gain weight. Other
conditions such as insomnia are also extremely common.
BENIGN ASBESTOS DISEASES
I have recently conducted a study of approximately 300 patients at the Wesley Hospital, most in middle age and older,
presenting with asbestos-related diseases referred either by their general practitioner or for medicolegal assessment.
About one-third had obstructive apnoea. Although this is a common condition, asbestos diseases may precipitate the
obstructive sleep apnoea by causing weight gain as a result of reduced physical activity, exertional dyspnoea and chest
pain. Other comorbidities often follow with weight gain and including diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, ischaemic
heart disease and cerebrovascular disease as well as back pain and musculoskeletal problems.
In my experience of over 20 years of seeing patients with asbestos disease and also in my capacity of a sleep physician, I
frequently diagnose sleep apnoea in patients with asbestos diseases which has either occurred a result of weight gain or
been aggravated by significant weight gain. This is also compounded in the subgroup of patients with significant asbestos
pleural pain who require drugs such as gabapentin and Lyrica and tricyclic and other antidepressants, all of which may
have a significant impact on weight gain.
Although the majority of patients with asbestos diseases and obstructive sleep apnoea can be treated with standard CPAP
pumps. Autotitrating devices which cost roughly around $2,000 and fixed pressure pumps are approximately half this
There is another subgroup of patients who have significant restrictive lung disease and who require more sophisticated
CPAP pumps which are called bi-level pumps (Bi-PAP for short) and which range from $4,000 to $6,000. The more
restrictive lung function present, the more difficult it is to inflate the chest and to overcome the sleep apnoea. Some
patients also require entrained oxygen due to resting low oxygen saturations which are aggravated by sleep.
In the normal individual, lying supine ie on one's back, causes the diaphragm to elevate and this is accentuated by
gravitational effect on abdominal contents. In patients who are obese, this problem is accentuated and in those with
coexisting restrictive defects from asbestos pleural disease and asbestosis as well as mesothelioma and lung cancer find
that this problem is even worse, to the extent that the resting oxygen saturation may be well below normal even while
they are awake.
During sleep the skeletal muscles and diaphragm maintain respiration and control oxygen saturation in the blood.
However, during REM sleep the skeletal muscles become atonic ie floppy and the only muscle which maintains
respiration is the diaphragm. In patients with impaired diaphragmatic function ie due to eventration or those with a
paralysed hemidiaphragm ie after surgery or idiopathic, find themselves at increasing disadvantage during REM sleep
particularly in the supine position and even worse so in the presence of obesity or significant restrictive lung pathology.
Many of such patients require CPAP at night even in the absence of significant obstructive sleep apnoea and a subgroup
The diaphragm can be likened to both a piston and a bellows and by its contraction, the abdominal contents are pushed
down and the chest cavity made larger causing an indrawing of air. However, in patients who have significant
diaphragmatic pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening and/or asbestosis combined with obesity, this function is
impaired leading to reduced oxygen saturations at rest and particularly in the supine position and even worse so during
sleep and with elevated carbon di-oxide levels in the blood which can be monitored by transcutaneous CO2 monitoring
during a sleep study.
There is also a subgroup of patients with diffuse asbestos pleural thickening who have severe pleural thickening in the
apices of the lungs as well as in the costovertebral gutters. The reason for this is unclear and this occurs in a minority of
patients. In my experience these patients are those who often require bi-level respiratory support at night due to the
severe decrease in lung and chest wall compliance ie making the chest wall and lungs stiffer and therefore more difficult
Obstructive sleep apnoea is not restricted to men and more commonly occurs in post-menopausal women and also in
those who are overweight.
Patients with mesothelioma always have reduced lung and chest wall compliance as a result of growth of the tumour and
this therefore may precipitate or aggravate coexisting obstructive sleep apnoea and the medications used to control pain ie
narcotics may precipitate or aggravate coexisting central sleep apnoea and lead to a worsening of control of obstructive
sleep apnoea. Although most patients eventually lose weight because of tumour, a subgroup of patients will have
significant weight gain eg from corticosteroids administered at the time of chemotherapy and some patients also require
antidepressants and have weight gain as a result of these drugs.
Insomnia due to concerns about the future, interruption of sleep from pain, constipation and general dysthymia all may
have a significant impact on the quality of life and also sleep. This may also have a significant impact on the spouse with
whom the patient sleeps.
As the mesothelioma worsens, patients may frequently develop worsening insomnia, a sense of alienation, frustration and
have numerous side-effects from a whole range of medications required during the treatment process and including
effects of chemotherapy.
PERIODIC LEG MOVEMENT DISORDER
This condition is a form of restless legs which occurs during sleep causing phasic contraction of the feet and sometimes the
arms for reasons incompletely understood but probably due to some form of nervous irritation of the lower spinal nerves
and aggravated by the presence of renal dysfunction and iron-deficiency anaemia. The condition becomes increasingly
more common in the elderly and each contraction of the feet and sometimes arms can produce arousals which lead to
excessive daytime somnolence similar to that of sleep apnoea.
I find this condition increasingly common in older patients and coincidentally in those with asbestos diseases but are not
caused by the latter. Treatment of this usually consists either of clonazepam (Rivotril) at night, anti-Parkinsonian drugs
such as Sinemet and more recently other drugs such as Repreve and more recently Sifrol. This condition also commonly
accompanies obstructive sleep apnoea and sometimes can be ameliorated by treating the latter.
This a condition which is found more commonly in older males and is characterised by acting out of violent dreams with
the affected subject sometimes inadvertently hitting or even punching the sleeping partner or objects by the bedside.
Although this is not caused by obstructive sleep apnoea or asbestos diseases, it occurs in a small proportion of patients in
this age group ie middle-aged to elderly. It may be induced or aggravated by emotional stress e.g. with regards asbestos
Many patients with asbestos disease develop insomnia, difficulty with sleep onset ie initial insomnia, poor sleep
maintenance or middle insomnia and thirdly, early-morning wakening. The latter two are more common in depression
and the first is more common in patients with anxiety. However, there is an overlap in all these conditions.
In my experience, patients with asbestos diseases often are perturbed by the diagnosis of asbestos diseases and are fearful
of their future particularly having read medicolegal reports, with fears also with regard the possibility of their developing
mesothelioma or lung cancer, concerns about their spouse and family, their financial affairs, their ability to continue work
for those who are still employed and compounded by the stress of medicolegal proceedings, having medicolegal reports
done by specialists (ie expert witnesses) and concerns about court appearances and the costs thereof.
There is a significant subgroup of patients who develop very significant anxiety, adjustment disorders and also overt
depression which require treatment by psychiatrists as well as sleep physicians. However, as many of the medications
used for treating depression lead to weight gain, this often compounds pre-existing problems in control of sleep apnoea as
well as the problems that obesity causes by reducing respiratory function via a worsening restrictive defect. Indeed the
most common cause of a restrictive defect in my experience in Queensland is obesity.
In a recent study of mine, approximately 40% to 50% of patients had significant asbestos pleural pain from asbestos
pleural plaques. In a subgroup of patients this led to significant disability, the need for them to see pain specialists and in
some cases also to have psychiatric support. A significant subgroup of such patients require drugs such as Lyrica and
gabapentin for the control of the neuropathic pain, which frequently causes weight gain which therefore compounds
obstructive sleep apnoea. In addition, some patients also require narcotics for control of pain and this has a deleterious
effect on sleep apnoea by causing significant depression of ventilatory drive during sleep and therefore predisposing to
central sleep apnoea and aggravating coexisting obstructive sleep apnoea.
Asbestos diseases therefore have a significant interaction with sleep disorders and this dimension needs to be more widely
recognised by general practitioners, the expert witnesses and the legal fraternity. In my experience, few medical reports
outline the effects of asbestos diseases on sleep or the interaction between common sleep pathologies and asbestos-related
Professor Roger K. A. Allen
Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine
Gold Coast, QLD 4229
Fall-related injuries can be prevented.
Visual impairment could double the risk of falls - a leading cause for hospital admissions among the older population-
according to two Australian studies conducted in 2007. However, Optometrists Association Australia‟s professional
services manager, Shirley Loh, says fall-related injuries can be avoided by regular eye examinations and early detection
of eye disease.
According to a study by the United Kingdom College of Optometrists, 75 per cent of older people who fell over because
of poor vision had a visual impairment that was easily correctable.
“Regular eye examinations are a key step in maintaining your well-being and independence longer”, said Ms Loh.
„Many older Australians are suffering because they do not wear glasses, or use glasses with prescriptions that are out of
date. Changes to eye health can be gradual and serious conditions can progress without any obvious symptoms. With
early detection, many eye diseases are treatable or preventable”.
Even the slightest change in vision can seriously affect people‟s quality of life and their safety. Increased rates of eye
disease among older Australians can cause vision problems that may contribute to falls, injuries and fractures. Problems
include reduced visual clarity, narrower visual field, and poor depth perception which can affect our ability to spot
hazards in our path or to judge the position of steps.
Older Australians should not accept poor vision as a way of life. Eye examinations attract a medicare rebate and
government-subsidised spectacles are sometimes available.
For more information or to find your local optometrist, visit www.optometrist.asn.au
Tips to prevent falls
Have regular eye examinations with an optometrist to detect or monitor any eye problems and make sure your
spectacle or lens prescription is up-to-date.
Avoid clutter on the floors in your home. Do not rush and always ensure there is adequate lighting.
Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, good nutrition and regular physical check-ups.
Talk to your friends, family and local optometrist about any concerns you have with your vision or mobility.
If you notice any changes or reduction in your vision, consult your optometrist immediately.
Optometrists Association Australia is the professional body for optometry in Australia. Shirley Loh, Optometrist
Association Australia‟s professional services manager, is a qualified, registered optometrist.
Article taken from the Australian Government “News for Seniors” Winter 2009 Issue 78
FROM THE DESK OF OUR SOLICITOR – Thady Blundell
ASBESTOS DISEASE - LIMITATION PERIODS
One of the most confusing areas of asbestos compensation is limitation periods. Each state in
Australia has a different limitation period. The way the law works is that in assessing a
person’s entitlements to compensation for asbestos disease it needs to be determined where
the asbestos exposure occurred. The state in which the exposure occurred governs the
entitlements to compensation.
For example, for those exposed to asbestos in New South Wales there are no limitation
periods for pursuing court claims or workers’ compensation benefits. The Northern Territory
has recently enacted legislation abolishing the limitation period for asbestos disease sufferers.
Queensland in contrast has very strict time limitation periods. Generally speaking under
Queensland law a person has one year from diagnosis with significant asbestos disease to
commence court proceedings and only 6 months from diagnosis with asbestos disease to lodge
a workers’ compensation claim. These time periods are the shortest of all states.
The application of time limitation periods to asbestos claims is seen by many as merely a
technical hurdle that has to be complied with and doesn’t really serve any purpose other than
to potentially limit the claims that can be lodged. Limitation periods certainly increase legal
costs. The fact is anyone who develops an asbestos disease today would have been exposed
decades ago. To apply arbitrary time limits to lodging claims seems unncesessary in
circumstances where the events giving rise to the claim occurred decades ago.
As set out in the report of the Acting President, QARDSS is pushing for amendment to the
Limitation Act in Queensland. Hopefully this is successful.
The most important thing to bear in mind about limitation periods is that if a person is
diagnosed with an asbestos disease he or she should seek advice regarding compensation as
soon as possible to ensure that time limitation periods are complied with. Even for those who
haven’t been diagnosed with an asbestos disease there are generally ways in which the
exposure can be registered which can assist with future entitlements.
If anyone has any questions about time limitation periods please contact the Society or me on
1800 683 928.
Office Hours Congratulations to the following, as
Please note that the office hours are 9am to 2pm.
winners in our recent Raffle.
The office is run by volunteers. Toll Free:
"A Big Thank You"
To the new Bride (a current member), who selflessly 1st Prize - Ms Carol Slater - Bar Fridge and $200
requested her guests at her wedding to donate to the Alcohol (Value $500)
Society instead of buying wedding presents. Such 2nd Prize - Ms Wendy Starkey - 2 nights
generosity and support highlight what a special person accommodation at The Plantation Resort,
you really are. Please accept the best wishes of the Rainbow Beach
Executive now and into the future. 3rd Prize - Mrs Ann Clark - French Champagne
Maybe a set of wedding bells could set this off. Gift Pack
4th Prize - Mr Henry Lippiatt - Avon Gift Pack
Regards Ray and 2 Bottles of Wine.
Annual General Meeting - Tuesday 8th September 09
Brisbane Private Hospital - Level 8, Trout Conference Room 10.30am
Please call the office to book your seat - 1800 776 412
R.S.V.P 7th September 09
Photo taken on our recent trip to Sydney to meet with
The Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd.
Rear - left to right
Helen & Ray Colbert QARDSS
Robert Vojakovic - AD Society
Terry Miller – AVA
Barry Robson - ADFA
Front- left to right
Rosemarie Vojakovic – AD Society
Kate Burge – AVA
Vicki Hamilton - GARDS
*Are you caring for a family member or friend with an illness, physical or intellectual disability or a frail aged person?
Come along to a Carers Queensland Carer Support Group and meet other carers in the same situation, share stories and
find out what is out there for YOU!
Redcliffe Carer Support Group Westside Carer Support Group
1 Tue each month, 10am – 12 noon 1 Thursday each month, 10am – 12 noon
Redcliffe Library Meeting Room Toowong Community Meeting Room
470 Oxley Ave, Redcliffe Josling St Toowong (Next to Perrin Park)
For more information contact Carers Queensland North Side Office – 3624 1700
Support Group Morning Teas
Don’t forget about the support groups run by dedicated members of our Society. The morning
teas are a great opportunity to meet people who have also been affected by asbestos disease.
Please feel free to attend any one of the support group morning teas and enjoy the relaxed
environment of those who also like to have a chat and a bit of company when you need it
BRISBANE SOUTHSIDE LOGAN
Held from 9.30am to 11.00am on the third Held from 9.30am to 11.30am on the forth
Thursday of every month at the Sunnybank Hills Monday of every month at the Bethania
Library, Ground Floor, Sunnybank Hills Community Centre, Station Road, Bethania
Shopping Centre, Corner Crompton & Calam Rds
Next meetings – Monday 24th August, 09
Next Meetings – Thursday 20th August, 09
Monday 28th September,09
Thursday 17th September, 09
Contact – Pat Cini on 3272 0741
BRISBANE NORTHSIDE IPSWICH
Held from 10.00am to 11.30am on the third Held from 10.00am to 11.30am on the first Friday
Monday of every month at the Chermside Library, of every month in the Auditorium, Ground Floor,
375 Hamilton Road (Corner of Kittyhawk Drive), Queensland Health Plaza Centre, Bell Street,
Next Meetings – Monday 17th August, 09 Next meetings – 4th September, 09
Monday 21st September, 09 2nd October, 09
Contacts – Joan Hutchins on 3201 8956 or
Contact – Lyn Parks on 3886 3112 Margaret Culley on 3201 8865
Held from 9.30am to 11.30am on the fourth
Tuesday of every month in the Main Hall,
Capalaba Place, 14 Noeleen Street, Capalaba
Next Meetings - Tuesday 25th August, 09
Tuesday 22nd September, 09
SUPPORT THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE SOCIETY
Your consideration of these organisations would be greatly appreciated -
their assistance is invaluable.
Ability One First Contact Queensland
AFULE Grantic Pty Ltd
Air Liquide Healthcare Pty Ltd Lifestyle Windows
Allens Industrial Products Linton Group
AMWU Your Rights at Work Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Union
Australian Rail, Tram & Bus Industries Union Logan Funerals
Australian Services Union Ms Janet Murphy
Bacon Factories Union NIAGARA
Beaudesert RSL sub-branch Mr Bob Golder
Brands Pharmacy PFG Financial Services
Builders Labourers’ Federation Queensland Council of Unions
Casella Wines Queensland Independent Education Union
CEPU Plumbing Union – Qld Branch Queensland Nurses Union of Employees
CEPU Electrical Division – Qld Branch Queensland Department of Health
Mr Leonard Dickson Queensland Teachers Union
Communication Workers Union Safe Work College of Workplace Health & Safety
CFMEU (Construction) Dr Stephen Vincent
CFMEU (Mining & Energy) WSP Environmental
DSA Financial Pty Ltd Samuel Smith & Sons Wines
The contact details for all of our corporate sponsors and corporate
members are available by ringing the
QARDSS office on 1800 776 412.
QARDSS is an endorsed charity (ABN 29 150 479 514).
Membership fees and donations of $2.00 or more are tax deductible.
We thank all members for their ongoing support.