17 December 2018
The Former Lands Department Chemical Inquiry made three recommendations within the report that was handed down in 2015. In response, the Victorian Government has undertaken significant work and can now advise that all recommendations have been addressed.
Further detail on the work that was carried out against each of the recommendations is below.
Recommendation 1: Update the Worker Health Study
In 2017, DELWP engaged Professor John Mathews from the University of Melbourne to update his 1982 study that assessed the incidence of cancer in 2,079 men who had been employed in spraying herbicide for the then Victorian Lands Department.
The updated study was completed in September 2018, finding that incidences of soft tissue cancer and lymphomas were not significantly increased in the cohort.
The report also flagged that more detailed analysis would be required at a later date when more data becomes available.
You can download the updated study here [MS Word Document - 38.4 KB].
Recommendation 2 - Provide health screening to current and former sprayers
Since March 2016, the Victorian Government has been offering health screening for current and former sprayers who may have had concerns about exposure to contaminant 2,4,5-T and its potential link to non-Hodgkin lymphoma or soft tissue sarcoma.
Information captured from the screening process showed a lesser prevalence of cancer in the cohort than the average Australian population. The information was also consistent with the outcomes of the Updated Worker Health Study (see Recommendation 1 above).
Health screening will continue to be offered to current and former sprayers.
Recommendation 3 - Review current practices in departments and agencies engaged in spraying activities
DELWP engaged Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) to carry out audits on Victorian Government departments and agencies currently involved in spraying activities, to ensure compliance with current standards.
The audit of 25 departments and agencies, including 20 site audits, resulted in a report that found a compliance rate of 88 per cent.
Participating departments and agencies are required to report to DELWP confirming that corrective actions have been taken.
You can download the report by PwC released on October 4 2018: Management of Hazardous Chemicals and Chemical Spraying Activities [PDF File - 2.2 MB].