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Study of fuel tank maintenance personnel begins.



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Media Release The Hon Danna Vale MP   Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Federal Member for Hughes

VA125 Friday 27 September 2002

STUDY OF FUEL TANK MAINTENANCE PERSONNEL BEGINS

The Federal Government's health study of personnel involved in the fuel tank maintenance of Royal Australian Air Force F-111 aircraft today moves into its next stage, with the first round of health examinations about to get under way.

The Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Danna Vale said the Department of Veterans' Affairs would write to RAAF and civilian personnel registered for the health study inviting them to participate in the examinations.

"The first round aims to secure the involvement of at least 30 participants, to help the research team and Health Services Australia evaluate procedural aspects of the examinations," Minister Vale said.

"Subsequent rounds, from the end of this year until May 2003, will see a large number of current and former personnel and civilian contractors invited to participate.

The Minister said the study was linked to the RAAF Board of Inquiry into F-111 (Fuel Tank) Deseal/Reseal (DSRS) and Spray Seal Programs at RAAF Base Amberley, which delivered its report into the safety aspects of the programs last year.

"The study aims to address the specific question as to whether there is an association between adverse health and an involvement in F-111 DSRS activities. However, it will also add to our knowledge of the health of aircraft maintenance personnel and help shape a safer working environment for aircraft maintenance," the Minister said.

To achieve this, the health of current and former workers involved in the programs will be compared to a group of non-maintenance workers from Amberley and a group of maintenance workers from RAAF Base Richmond.

The results of the health examinations will be analysed by an independent research team from the University of Newcastle. A cancer incidence and mortality study, involving data-matching against national death and cancer registries, is due to be completed before the end of 2002.

"The combined results from this study will enable the Government to properly assess the need for continued support in the areas of health care and compensation for current and former workers.

"Its success will depend on the support of the maintenance personnel and the RAAF community and I encourage anyone contacted by the study team to assist by participating in the health examinations," the Minister said.

Minister Vale said that current and former DSRS workers who thought they should be included in the study and had not registered, should contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs on 1800 502 302.

Media contact: Jane Seaborn 02 6277 7820 or 0417 265 289

 

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