Second Investigation into Cancer Related Illnesses
among National Gallery of Australia Employees


Terms of Reference



An assessment by Health Services Australia in 2002 of a cluster of cancer illnesses amongst Security staff in the National Gallery of Australia found that it was “… exceedingly unlikely that there is any occupational cancer-causing agent responsible for this cluster of illnesses”.

A subsequent investigation into this, and related OH&S matters by Comcare, recommended in 2005 that “…Another expert opinion be sought on the possible association of security staff cancer illnesses with the NGA environment”.

In accepting this recommendation, the Gallery has determined that the second expert opinion should extend to cover all staff of the Gallery, and not be confined just to Security staff.


Engagement of Occupational Physician

The Gallery has engaged the services of Dr Tim Driscoll (Occupational Physician) and Gary Foster (Occupational Hygienist) to provide the second expert opinion.

The Investigating Team will report to the Director through a Steering Committee comprising Gallery management and union officials and workplace representatives.

The Terms of Reference of the investigation are:

  1. In relation to current and former staff and volunteers, provide an opinion on the likelihood of any work-related contribution to the already identified cases of cancer and any other cases of cancer identified during the investigation. [Note: the investigation will not provide an assessment of individual cases].
  2. Without limiting the investigation, the project will include:
    1. an assessment of relevant past exposures to physical, chemical and biological hazards.
    2. an assessment of relevant current exposures to physical, chemical and biological hazards.
    3. examination of the issues raised by staff in their response to the Gallery’s requests made in March 2005.
    4. examination of other relevant matters raised by Gallery staff during the conduct of the investigation.
  3. Recommend appropriate action.


The investigation is to include all staff and volunteers who have been employed by the Gallery since the Gallery opened in October 1982.


Communication processes and access to the Investigation Team

The Gallery is committed to an open and transparent process, and to ensuring that all relevant persons who want to contribute relevant information to the investigation team can do so.

To this end, a range of options will be available for current and former staff and volunteers to contribute to the investigation.  In addition, the Gallery will ensure that there is a timely and open sharing of information from the investigation team and the Steering Committee.  Privacy of all persons will be maintained during this process.

Details of these processes will be announced as they become available.


Tony Rhynehart
Head Human Resource Management and Business Support
National Gallery of Australia

23 August 2006