There are several programs to support members of the community that are impacted by PFAS contamination. Details can be found under the headings below.
Defence cannot provide health advice. This is the role of respective Australian Government, State/Territory and local health authorities and practitioners.
Defence relies on the enHealth Guidance Statements on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, available on the Department of Health website: www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-publicat-environ.htm.
The following links are provided to support community awareness:
The PFAS Coordination Unit at the Department of Health has established a public information service for all public enquiries relating to health and the Health-led initiatives developed in response to PFAS contamination. They can be contacted using the details below:
The Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advises that there is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFOS and PFOA causes adverse human health effects.
However, because these chemicals persist in humans and the environment, enHealth recommends that human exposure to these chemicals is minimised as a precaution.
Defence cannot provide health advice. This is the role of respective Australian Government, State/Territory and local health authorities and practitioners. Defence relies on the enHealth Guidance Statements on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances.
Accordingly, Defence has adopted a precautionary approach and is providing alternative sources of drinking water to eligible residents located within the area currently under investigation who rely on the use of a bore for drinking water. Defence will also provide water to residents if drinking water is sourced from a rainwater tank that contains, or has in the past contained, bore water. Defence may also provide drinking water to residents in other exceptional circumstances.
Each household’s drinking water requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine the most appropriate water supply arrangements that Defence may be able to provide.
Residents, within the area currently under investigation, who do not have a town water connection, and drink bore water (directly or via rainwater tanks), are welcome to contact the project team to discuss possible management strategies. Management strategies may include:
To find out if you are eligible for water assistance, please contact the project team by phone or email. You will be asked to complete a short survey to gather information about your water use and this information will be used to assess your eligibility for alternative water.
If you are eligible for water assistance, there is no cost in getting alternative water delivery from Defence.
The length of time this assistance will be provided will depend on:
The provision of alternative water supplies by Defence will be reviewed on completion of the environmental investigation, or sooner if information obtained during the environmental investigation suggests such a review is warranted. The project team will contact residents directly about any proposed changes to water assistance arrangements.
The health and safety of military and civilian personnel is a primary concern of Defence.
While we know that PFAS can persist in humans, animals and the environment, there is currently no consistent evidence that PFAS are harmful to human health. However, since these chemicals remain in humans and the environment for many years, it is recommended that human exposure to PFAS be minimised as a precaution.
More information around potential health effects and exposure pathways can be found on the Australian Government Department of Health factsheet.
The following services are available to current and former Defence members in relation to exposure to PFAS:
ADF Historical Occupational Exposure Record
For current ADF members, Defence has developed the ADF Historical Occupational Exposure Record to facilitate reporting of past exposures to any potential occupational hazard. This allows ADF members to record any historical exposures that have not already been recorded in their medical record.
Current ADF members should consult with their ADF Health practitioner for advice on accessing this scheme.
ADF members using the Australian Defence Force Historical Occupational Exposure Record should use this system alone and not report additionally via the DAHCES.
Defence Asbestos and Hazardous Chemicals Exposure Scheme (DAHCES)
The Defence Asbestos and Hazardous Chemicals Exposure Scheme (DAHCES) is open to current and former employees of the Department of Defence and former ADF personnel (including Cadets), who suspect that they have been exposed to asbestos or a chemical (including PFAS) as a result of their employment with Defence.
Persons wishing to participate in the DAHCES should call 1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 3623) to register their details and access further information.
Australian Defence Force members who live or work, or have lived or worked in the Williamtown or Oakey Management Areas or Katherine Investigation Area are able to access PFAS blood tests through their usual ADF garrison health service.
If an individual or business considers that they have suffered a loss or injury as a consequence of Defence activities, it is open to that individual or business to make a claim. Each claim should identify:
Alternatively, an individual or business may complete a claim form.
The claimant should attach any relevant documentation to support their claim, whether they use the claim form or not. Once a claim is received and considered by Defence, the claimant may be requested to provide further documentation.
Claims can be sent by email to email@example.com or by post to:
Office of Defence Special Counsel
Defence Legal Division
PO Box 7911
Canberra ACT 2610
All claims will be assessed consistently with the Attorney-General’s Legal Services Directions 2005.