The ACT Government has announced an assistance package for households affected by Mr Fluffy asbestos, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announced today.
The package includes immediate financial assistance, access to support and counselling services and the bulk purchase of asbestos assessments for the Mr Fluffy homes.
The government’s support package includes:
- Up to $10,000 payment to households, plus an additional $2,000 per dependant child residing at the property to cover costs of emergency accommodation and other necessities such as food and clothing, and immediate remediation work
- A $1000 payment to support the replacement of contaminated essential items such as clothes that have had to be destroyed on the advice of an asbestos assessment (in circumstances where families do not have to vacate but essential goods are contaminated)
- Counselling and support services delivered by ACT Medicare Local
- Arranging and meeting the costs of asbestos assessments on Mr Fluffy homes
- Deferral of rates for the period of time in which owners have had to vacate their homes following advice from a licensed asbestos assessor.
“A small number of Canberra families have, so far, had to vacate their homes on the advice of a licensed asbestos assessor,” the Chief Minister said.
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“These families have had their lives turned upside down emotionally and financially and often with little notice. They have had to find alternate accommodation at short notice and replace clothes and other daily essentials.
“The financial assistance will allow the government to reimburse households for these costs already incurred and take some of the financial pressures off these households. As more assessments are undertaken we are anticipating that additional households may be eligible for this grant,” the Chief Minister said.
Importantly the government assistance package also includes access to counselling support services.
“The ACT Government is very aware of the need to support Mr Fluffy homeowners’ emotional well-being. This is an issue which has, and will continue, to cause concern for families about their health and safety and the financial value of their homes.
It is essential that people have the appropriate support available to them during what is a very tough time.
“ACT Medicare Local will provide free assistance to those who are experiencing anxiety and depression by experienced staff. This can be accessed by those who have registered with the Taskforce by calling 6207 8066.
General-practitioners can also refer people to specialist psychologists for support.
“For those registered with the asbestos taskforce, any ‘gap’ fee for a visit to the GP or specialist for the development of a mental health plan following a referral from Medicare Local, will be reimbursed to ensure there is no out-of-pocket expense for this assistance.”
The ACT Government has also decided that the Asbestos Response Taskforce should oversee the assessment of affected homes and will meet the costs of those assessments.
“The number of asbestos assessors in the ACT is limited and we are concerned about possible long wait times for households to obtain an assessment. To overcome this, the Asbestos Response Taskforce is negotiating with industry to procure these assessments on behalf of householders.
“The government will reimburse those who have undertaken an assessment since 18 February 2014.”
To date 398 people have registered with the Asbestos Response Taskforce and the Chief Minister urged all Canberrans affected by Mr Fluffy asbestos to join the register, which can be done online or through Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.
“The government is committed to providing support and information to affected households on a case-by-case basis because there is no simple, one-size fits all answer to the challenges facing these families. While everyone may share similar concerns and fears, the solution for each household will be different,” the Chief Minister said.
“We have drawn together a team from across the ACT Public Service to work within the taskforce to provide an individual approach to those impacted. The members of the Taskforce will be working with impacted households to quickly implement the assistance package announced today.”
You can register with the taskforce from the ACT Government (www.act.gov.au/asbestostaskforce) or Canberra Connect websites, or by calling Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.
(Katy Gallagher Media Release)