Section of a coal worker's lung showing black lung disease with progressive massive fibrosis.Contributed
Section of a coal worker's lung showing black lung disease with progressive massive fibrosis.Contributed Contributed

Why Mackay could be vital in black lung research

A UNIVERSITY has called for a black lung research school to be set up in Mackay.

James Cook University wants the State Government to set up a Black Lung Centre of Excellence in Mackay - one of the main centres hit with the re-emergence of the disease.

There has been 17 confirmed cases of black lung disease since late 2015 in people who worked in Queensland coal mines.

The centre would be a one-stop clinical shop for miners while also lead Australia's research into the disease.

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James Cook University associate professor David Farlow said that the proposed one-stop shop model was developed through the perspective of "walking in the miners' shoes".

Miners could have a single point of contact for all research, clinical services and clinical governance under this model.

"Mackay has the capacity, resources and expertise to address the recommendations of the Black Lung review, as prepared by Professor Malcolm Sim, and is the logical base to establish a Centre of Excellence," Dr Farlow said.

The model also has strong collaborative ties with support from AITHM, the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre, and major stakeholders such as the CFMEU, the Queensland Resources Council [Supporting Research at Mackay] and Professor Malcolm Sim.

"Importantly, this model is built on sound collaborative networks. AITHM at James Cook University, is in the midst of appointing OHS research staff in Mackay, to be based at the JCU Clinical School, and the model has in-principle support from major stakeholders across Queensland."

What miners would have access to with a Centre of Excellence:

  • the latest black lung research being conducted by the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM), based at James Cook University
  • all occupational health and safety (OHS) related clinical services via either the private or public systems [or partnership]
  • clinical governance to ensure the miners' clinical pathway has a singular point of accountability to ensure all standards are met, this includes training of medical officers performing medicals on miners