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Inquiry into Fiskville is a critical step forward for victims

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Media Release

Published on

Law firm Slater and Gordon has welcomed the announcement by the Victorian Government of a parliamentary inquiry into the CFA Fiskville site, which will investigate the exposures of volunteers and employees to carcinogens on the grounds between the 1970s and 1990s and will consider appropriate compensation options for victims.

Principal Lawyer Julie Clayton said that the inquiry was a promising step towards finally getting some answers for Fiskville victims and their families.

“Ever since concerns about the Fiskville site gained public prominence in 2011, our clients have been dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what they were exposed to on the site and what kinds of health impacts this might cause in the future,” Ms Clayton said.

“Although the report by Professor Joy in 2012 provided some helpful insights into what went on at Fiskville and how the current situation was allowed to arise, it left a number of important questions unanswered – and in many cases the questions that are most important to victims, such as what they were exposed to and what risks they now face.

“We’re hopeful that the parliamentary inquiry can help to fill in the gaps that have been left.”

Ms Clayton also noted that the inquiry’s mandate to consider compensation options for affected individuals has the potential to help moderate the legal burdens faced by Fiskville victims, many of whom were exposed to dozens of different cancer-causing agents at various times on the site, in proving that the site was the cause of their conditions.

“The Fiskville situation has highlighted an important shortcoming of the law in Victoria, in that the more carcinogens that people were exposed to, and the longer the period over which this occurred, the harder it becomes to establish to the standard required by a court that any particular cancer was caused by any particular exposure,” Ms Clayton said.

“Combined with the near-total lack of records of what carcinogens were stored and burned on the site from the 1970s to the 1990s, this leaves Fiskville victims in a very difficult position. We are pleased that the inquiry will consider compensation options to overcome this unacceptable situation, and will continue to advocate strongly for a fair outcome for our clients.”