I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the newest member of the social work team at the Asbestos Disease Support Society (ADSS). I am privileged to have been appointed as the social worker dedicated to supporting those of you who have been affected or touched by silicosis in any way. As you may already be aware ADSS has established the Silicosis Support Network (SSN) in response to the increase in the diagnosis of dust related diseases in the engineering stone bench top (silicosis) and coal mining industries (coal workers pneumoconiosis). It is also recognised that occupational lung disease can occur as a result of exposure to silica substances in many other industries.
We acknowledge and appreciate the impact of a silicosis diagnosis on an individual and additionally, recognise the need for holistic support to include peoples loved ones, family, friends and work mates. It concerns me deeply that this dust related disease has remerged and that so many peoples’ lives are being affected by it again here in Australia. It is my passion that together we can work toward a silicosis free Australia.
My goal is supporting your quality of life by offering evidence based holistic assessments of individual and group needs, in partnership with you. I recognise that there are multiple issues that impact someone having received this diagnosis including:
- Adjustment & Isolation
- Grief and loss
- Family and intimate relationship challenges
- Financial and work-related issues etc.
Many of these issues were identified by the people who attended the two forums held on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, last year. Following on from those, we want you to know we heard and acknowledge your hurt and distress. We accept that there is a substantial desire by you for support groups, access to up to date information and linkage to services. Significantly, we here at SSN realise that since those forums occurred things have not moved as quickly as we would have liked, in relation to supporting you.
However, I am pleased to advise you that we have been actively developing a model of support appropriate and specific to addressing the presenting issues and concerns of people affected by silicosis which includes:
- Delivering a ‘pilot’ facilitated Support Group by the end of February 2020 – details to follow. (Simultaneous groups will be offered in relation to the response).
- Partnering with volunteer ‘Silicosis Mentors’ with lived experience to ensure that we validate the perspectives of people experiencing silicosis and its challenges and act accordingly. (Expressions of Interest – to become a ‘Silicosis Mentor’ and be a part of our discussions on how best to provide service)
- Review feedback and implement programs accordingly.
- Developing a user-friendly website or ‘Silicosis Information Hub’ connecting you with the expert information and each other.
- Setting up a moderated social media forum.
- Silicosis Support Network telephone ‘hotline’.
- A dedicated, client centred social worker offering counselling, facilitation, support and advocacy or simply a ‘yarn’ and a cuppa to touch base.
I welcome the opportunity to walk alongside you, your family and friends during this difficult time in your lives. I hope to earn your trust, listen to your experiences, offer hope and work together for change. This too is reflective of the values and mission of the Silicosis Support Network; Understanding, Support, Education, Prevention, Collaboration & Advocacy.
I look forward to connecting with you and other people affected by silicosis in the upcoming support groups. If you would like to attend the upcoming silicosis support group, please contact the office on 07 3252 7852.
In appreciation of your patience