The Whyalla Shipyards were among the largest shipyards in Australia, operating from 1941 to 1978. Over that time many of the workforce – about 20,000 people – were exposed to large quantities of asbestos dust and fibre. Others were exposed to asbestos while working at the Steelworks.
At the shipyards, asbestos was used in a variety of different ways. Laggers were employed to insulate pipes and boilers on board ships and to spray asbestos fibre on bulkheads. Many workers were present when the asbestos was installed and sprayed. Others were exposed when removing asbestos during refits and carrying out repairs or working alongside others doing this work.
AVA’s Whyalla branch holds its Memorial Day service at Mount Laura Homestead. The service is held in the garden and crosses are placed on the lawn to commemorate the lives lost to asbestos.
There is a permanent memorial to asbestos victims – a reflection site where family or friends can sit & reflect whenever they please. Each leaf of the tree carries the name of someone who has passed away from asbestos disease.