MEDIA RELEASE 25th July 2004
LEAD Group leading the way: Funding is down but workload is up
The LEAD Group Incorporated has just released their Annual Report for the period of June 2003 to May 2004. Amidst the numbers and statistics, there are two prominent themes the group has been a great service to the global community and that minimal funding is hindering such services and achievements.
The Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS), called LASA (Lead Advisory Service Australia) within Australia, data-entered 3,007 calls (phone and email) in the report period covering 8,385 call subjects, for enquiries on diverse lead issues including policy, renovation, lead workers, waste, hobbies and pets. When these calls were categorised into a specific concern of environment, health or either of these, the breakdown was the following: environment 38.8%, health 20.6% and either 40.6%. Hence the information needed by the public is varied and continually growing as research into lead finds impacts at lower and lower blood lead levels and over the whole of life, not just affecting childhood. These latter percentage breakdowns also justify funding from environment agencies and OH&S agencies. Though sadly such funding is low and a continuing battle to gain.
The services disseminated nearly 50,000 fact-sheets, booklets and other library items this report period with each information pack tailored to meet the needs of the caller. To make such services possible, people are needed to operate LASA. In what the Report considers a desperate lack of funding, such a team has dwindled to skeletal proportions. Of the calls recorded above, a staggering 1,500 more could not be included in the final data due to lack of staff time for data entry. The estimated time donated from the all-volunteer staff, totals a monetary wages amount of $80,000, in conjunction with an estimated $20,000 for non-staff volunteer donated time. Funding is currently at its lowest level since 1995. Hope for federal or corporate funding in the future is high, based on the fact that Australia is the largest lead exporter, which guarantees the government huge excise earnings.
The Internet is a vital tool for LASA, and is the means of information transmission for many of the inquiries. Unfortunately there have not been enough government websites linking to The LEAD Group's website (www.lead.org.au). Web searches are often the first point of contact for people sourcing information, so all three levels of government are under-utilising this excellent resource The group aims to support the community, but lack of links from renovation, workers' health, pregnancy, ageing or children's health sites does nothing to boost its presence and subsequent reach.
The LEAD Group's website received 97,700 plus page views in the period. Currently, there are 1,381 files on the website and extensive links and listed sources. It would be an understatement to say that the work of volunteer webmaster, David Ratcliffe, has resulted in a sufficient site. It is a great one. But such standards come at a price, and the upgrading of internet services this year came at a cost of $3,875 and planned web-publication of selected sections of The LEAD Group's database will be even more expensive in the coming year.
Strong links with journalists and the media, are one aspect of very positive promotion for the group. LASA is constantly contacted for information, and even featured pieces, and in order to spread the word without further overloading the volunteer staff, a request is always made to include a link to the website in any resulting media article.
The LEAD Group Incorporated again delivers a wonderful service to the global community, now having responded to enquiries from 52 countries, despite the obstacles in the way. The service is the only one of its kind in the world. The facts and statistics are there, in plain English, yet the government and other funding bodies have put little importance on the dangers of lead poisoning. It is a baffling concept that there is such little monetary support for such a worthy (and essential) cause. In true devoted form, the group will battle on, clutching dearly to its resources and minimal human help, but always producing the optimum level of service they can. When one considers the achievements of the group as they face such adversity, one can only imagine what could be possible with a little help from the higher powers.
Contact: Elizabeth O'Brien, Manager, GLASS run by The LEAD Group Inc
Phone: (02) 9716 0014, FreeCall 1800 626 086. See Annual Report 2004
The LEAD Group acknowledges the financial support for the Lead Advisory Service Australia [administrative funding - insufficient to pay wages] by the NSW EPA, NSW Health and the South Australian Dept of Health. ###
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Last Updated 27 March 2012
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PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9716 0014