The 2022 NCARD public seminar was held on the evening of 20 October. Registrations came from all over Australia and the world – online registrants hailed from Colombia, Turkey, Belgium, Israel, the UK and New Zealand.
We hosted 70 guests for our lecture. About half of our audience tuned in online, while the other half were able to join us in person. The attendees were a diverse mix of clinicians and allied health professionals, researchers, patients, carers and advocates.
We were fortunate to have Mr Simon Millman MLA, the Member for Mount Lawley and Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for Health and Mental Health, Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson MLA, to open our seminar. He gave a fantastic introduction, citing his previous experience as a lawyer with victims of asbestos related disease, and congratulating our researchers, speakers and the asbestos related disease community on the hard work they do.
Our first speaker was Narelle Towie, a freelance journalist and head of journalism at Murdoch University. Narelle wrote an investigative article on the lack of action taken on the Wittenoom asbestos clean-up for the Guardian. In addition, her father worked at Wittenoom, necessitating regular checks for asbestos disease. Narelle spoke about the history of Wittenoom, the scope and scale of the asbestos contamination in the area, the rejection of responsibility by the mining companies and the government, and the possible solutions for the clean-up.
Next, we had Professor Fraser Brims, who is Head of Respiratory Medicine at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Professor at Curtin University, the chair of the WA Mesothelioma Registry and the Deputy Director of the Institute for Respiratory Health. Fraser talked about the records kept at the WA Mesothelioma Registry, which enables him and his team to keep track of all historical and current cases, break down demographics of mesothelioma patients and the source of their exposures, and predict the number of cases in the future.
Our last speaker, Dr Melvin Chin, is a researcher at NCARD with interests in computational approaches to improving mesothelioma detection and treatment. He also practices as a clinical oncologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Melvin discussed the three research themes in his work of novel therapy, personalised medicine and the mesothelioma knowledge base. He also emphasised the importance of patients’ data in developing future treatments as the legacy they leave for future mesothelioma patients.
After our speakers finished their talks, they took questions from the audience both online and in the room. This was a chance for the community to learn more about research, mesothelioma and the current climate around asbestos, as well as a valuable opportunity for discussion between the different parties involved in addressing asbestos related disease.
After the seminar, NCARD provided refreshments for those that attended in person. This allowed guests and speakers to continue the conversation, in keeping with our goal of connecting and informing the community.
Thank you to our attendees, speakers and organisers for a wonderful evening. Special thanks goes to Dr Tanya Ward, the NCARD program manager, for organising and making sure the seminar went smoothly, and to Dr Kofi Stevens for acting as our emcee. We hope to see you at next year’s event!