Service NSW (LAS NSW) is Unique and
Letter to: Mr Graeme Head
I am both perplexed and troubled by the proposal to reduce funds to the Lead Advisory Service [by 27%].
Just prior to moving from Perth to Sydney (Glebe) in 1996, my husband and I had no understanding of the sources of lead contamination in residential Sydney other than by fuel emissions. It was through repeated phone calls from Perth to the Lead Advisory Service (predominantly with Elizabeth OBrien) that we realised that lead paint was the greatest source of contamination. Because this knowledge had been imparted to us we were able to be proactive in decontaminating our house before moving in. The Lead Advisory Service were of great assistance in providing names of people able to help in the lead assessment and abatement process.
Once living in Glebe we were able to keep our childrens blood lead levels well down by practising the techniques recommended by both the Lead Advisory Service and our lead abatement consultant.
Several months later, neighbours applied for permission to demolish their house and to redevelop the site. We were not opposed to this but were very concerned that the council, in our opinion, had limited conditions in place to protect our children from possible lead contamination when the demolition occurred.
Again it was the Lead Advisory Service and our consultant that, through imparting knowledge they had acquired, enabled us to effectively argue our case to the council for greater safety standards. I understand that the responsibility of educating councils to insist on greater safety standards in regard to lead hazards fell under the jurisdiction of the Lead Reference Centre. Clearly they had not yet achieved this goal and we were therefore forced to deal with this matter ourselves.
The councils eventual response was to engage an expert in the area of lead contamination to create a protocol sufficient to adequately protect our and other peoples children from possible contamination. The precedent set by the council is one for which we were very grateful and which should now facilitate the Lead Reference Centre in persuading other councils to update their protocols.
I believe that if the Lead Advisory Service is in any way compromised not only will this be an appalling disservice to the public, but the Lead Reference Centre will be losing a necessary complementary service. I do not believe that the Lead Reference Centre could have helped us in the capacity that the Lead Advisory Service did, nor is it intended to do so.
We also believe that the [NSW EPAs] Lead Pollution Line, while a very effective service, would not have been able to assist us in the same capacity as the Lead Advisory Service. We had reason to contact this service on one occasion on another matter and while effective in the role of first contact with regard to regulatory matters and the provision of general information, there was not the depth of knowledge that was readily available from the Lead Advisory Service. Without access to this depth of knowledge we would not have been able to be pro-active and our children may have become yet more statistics.
There is probably no other person with as great a depth of knowledge of and commitment to this issue as Elizabeth OBrien. She has altered the course of our children's future. Our children are the best assets we will ever have. We are extremely indebted to her.
While I am now a full time mother, I previously worked as a physiotherapist and worked with many people with disabilities which could not have been avoided. It is therefore imperative to work to educate people to avoid disability which can be avoided. As you can see from our story the Lead Advisory Service has been very effective in achieving this and should be allowed to continue their good work.
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Updated 26 February 2013