National dust disease registry to ‘save lives’: RACP

2 minute read

The college welcomes the federal government’s commitment as ‘a great step’ but says more still needs to be done.

The RACP has welcomed the federal government’s commitment to establishing a National Occupational Respiratory Disease Registry, describing it as a “great step” towards eliminating silicosis in Australia. 

The National Occupational Respiratory Disease Registry Bill 2023 passed through federal parliament on 14 November, with the registry scheduled to be up and running within the next six months.    

According to Dr Warren Harrex, RACP spokesperson and president of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the registry provided much-needed data on the true extent of silicosis in Australia, as well as facilitating earlier detection and reducing worker exposure to that and other dust-related diseases. 

“The total number of people with silicosis is currently unknown, so this registry will be critical,” Dr Harrex said.  

“Anecdotally, we know this is a disease that hundreds of people are suffering from, but we could really only be talking about the tip of the iceberg.  

“The registry will allow us to get a better insight into the scale of the disease across the country. It will also enable physicians and policy makers to identify trends as we try to eradicate new cases of this disease and the workplace environments that cause it.” 

The RACP also called for more action from the federal government on the six other recommendations from the 2021 National Dust Diseases Taskforce Report, including establishing a national respiratory protection program and regulatory framework in partnership with state and territory governments.   

“The registry is a great step. Now we need to see urgent action on the other recommendations from the National Dust Diseases Taskforce Report, including a national respiratory protection program delivered in partnership with states and territories,” Dr Harrex said. 

“We also want to see a national regulatory framework and enforcement plan to which all states and territories are committed.”  

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