Asbestos, the ‘magic mineral’, was a material so versatile that it was widely used in industrial settings as insulation to contain heat and prevent erosion. It also became a wonder product during Australia’s postwar housing boom, giving us the iconic fibro house and fencing for most of our suburbs. Whether it was being mined, manufactured, or used in homes and workplaces, asbestos was always lethal. What benefitted us in the last century goes on killing us in this one.

The Australian Asbestos Network website brings together historical, public health and medical information about asbestos in Australia. The site has been put together by a team of journalists and historians working with experts in the medical and public health fields, advocates and legal practitioners, as well as those directly affected – workers, families and carers. Supported by a National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) grant, the project aim has been to assemble authoritative information authenticated by experts and independent of any commercial interest.

By telling the story of asbestos in Australia, we hope to increase community understanding of asbestos and its legacy, and to provide information to try to reduce future risk.