Government Apologizes to Asbestos Victims

Many former employees of the State Electricity Commission in Victoria have suffered from asbestos-related diseases after years of exposure at the state run plant. The Victorian Premier, John Brumby apologized formally to employees and their families for the many years of suffering they have endured.

"The government sincerely apologises to these workers and their families for the injuries caused by the exposure at the SECV," he said.

"It is unacceptable that any person, through the course of their work, is exposed to what we now know is a deadly substance. I hope this apology goes some way to bring closure and resolution to families that are suffering from asbestos related diseases."

Several former plant employees spoke out in regards to the apology. Trevor Callow worked in the plant for 45 years and is currently suffering from asbestos related disease. "It means a lot, anybody that says they're sorry for something," he said

"I've been asked it before: 'Are you crook on SEC for what's happened to you?' "I said: `No I'm not', because the people I worked for, my bosses and that, they were ignorant of it. “We just worked away and I was happy with my job. When I found out, what's the use of having a hatred towards them? "I just stream my energy into trying to help others."

The parliament is expected to pass legislation that will enable victims to file more than one claim when they experience multiple asbestos-related illnesses, including mesothelioma. It also gives the victims the right to file claims for pain and suffering as well as lost wages. The hope is that the Asbestos Diseases Compensation bill will pass soon.

James Gunderson, executive director for Asbestos Information and Support Services is pleased that the government is taking responsibility for what happened at the SECV. He believes Mr. Brumby’s apology goes a long way in supporting victims.

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