Second Investigation into Cancer Related Illnesses
among National Gallery of Australia Employees
STEERING COMMITTEE FOR THE SECOND INVESTIGATION INTO CANCER RELATED ILLNESSES AMONG NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS
Meeting No 2
Date: 14 November 2006
Tim Driscoll; Gary Foster; Darrel Lord; David Hermolin (CPSU); Cheikh Kone, (CPSU); Phil Johnstone (CFMEU); Sarah Robinson; Craig O’Sullivan; Melinda Carlisle; Alan Froud; Tony Rhynehart
1. Introductions and welcome
Alan Froud welcomed Cheikh Kone and Sarah Robinson (to replace Fiona Kemp) to their first meeting of the Steering Committee, and thanked Fiona Kemp for her participation to date.
2. Update on Stage 1: Review of Workplace and Work Processes
Tim Driscoll provided a summary of the methodology for the benefit of the new Steering Committee members, and also spoke to the paper he had presented to the Committee. The main points are:
(a) Progress to date
- there was no indication that the Gallery had any urgent issue that required immediate attention;
- the focus of the project, and the report, will be carcinogenic exposures. Other significant exposures (past or present) will be considered in the report, but not in detail;
- the research team had been informed of some specific instances of apparent exposure that had concerned people. These will all be taken account of when preparing the report. However, it appeared that not all of these were relevant to the current project, and the report would not consider in depth the non-carcinogenic incidents;
(b) Stage 1 report
- in order to provide a comprehensive report, it would be necessary to delay submission of the Stage 1 report until February 2007 (in lieu of the expected December 2006); the extra time was necessary as a result of the large amount of information that they had to examine and assess;
- the Steering Committee will be provided with a draft of the Stage 1 report in order to advise on errors of fact, however the investigation team will only amend the draft report if they believe it appropriate and necessary to do so – their independence will not be compromised;
- while the Stage 1 report will to a large extent be a stand-alone document, it will be modified, if necessary, during the conduct of Stage 2 to reflect new or emerging information;
- in order to demonstrate the layout and likely content of the report, the investigation team will develop out of session and circulate to the Committee an indicative Table of Contents;
Action: TD to develop draft Table of Contents and send to Steering Committee.
Consideration and sharing of Stage 1 report
It was agreed that the Stage 1 report would be released as follows:
- distributed to Steering Committee first week in February
- Committee meet to discuss draft
- draft (amended if necessary) circulated to all staff prior to all-staff meeting
- all-staff meeting around end of February / beginning of March.
(c) Provision of information to investigation team
Alan Froud raised the issue of how to ensure that the investigation team had been provided with all relevant reports, information and documentation. This was important because the Gallery was committed to full and open cooperation with the investigation, and did not want to inadvertently withhold relevant information. It was agreed that:
- the investigation team would provide to the Steering Committee for inclusion in the minutes, and publication on the web-site, a list of all the material provided by the Gallery; this would enable any interested person to ensure that any documentation of which they were aware had been provided to the investigation team; and
- the final report would also list all material provided by the Gallery;
Action: TD to develop list of all material provided by the Gallery and send to Steering Committee.
While the investigation team needed to finalise its discussions with concerned / interested persons as soon as possible, they were open to further approaches at any time. However, if the information is to be included in the Stage 1 report, it would need to be provided by mid-December.
(d) Site inspections
The investigation team would consider whether it was necessary to inspect the Hume site, or the Gallery’s original sites in Fyshwick.
(e) List of OH&S questions
The investigation team will attempt to answer the list of questions prepared by Gallery staff in 2005. This is a potentially long process, as some of the questions are very broad, and go beyond the scope of the investigation. However they will attempt to provide reasonable responses in all cases.
Action: TD to respond to list of questions.
3. Update on Stage 2: Epidemiological analyses of cancer data
This stage requires approval from the state and territory cancer registries.
The investigation team has lodged applications with several of the registries. The University of Sydney ethics committee was due to meet on the day of the steering committee meeting (14th November). The SA ethics committee has requested additional information, and it is likely that other ethics committees will also request some clarification of particular points.
The team expects that it will not have a response from all registries until February at the earliest.
The Gallery will not commence collecting employee data (current and former staff) until the cancer registries have approved the investigation.
Action: TD and MC to assess availability of data.
The Steering Committee approved the information sheet.
The Steering Committee noted a minor amendment was necessary. The consent form would not be distributed to staff until approval of the investigation by the various ethics committees, as other changes may be required.
Completion of the consent form would be voluntary, however it was important to achieve a large response rate. Confidentiality of those completing the form would be maintained. It was proposed that staff would be provided with a reply-paid envelope to enable them to return the completed form direct to the investigation team.
Volunteers would be included in the investigation.
Obtaining National Deaths Index Data
The Committee was informed that accessing data from the National Deaths Index could be a potentially useful means of comparing causes of death with the general community, and would supplement the information obtainable from matching with cancer registry data.
The Committee agreed that the investigating team should approach the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to obtain access to data from the National Deaths Index.
4. Next meeting
The next meeting will take place in the first or second week in February, as per the schedule for considering the Stage 1 report.
28 November 2006