Deseal-resealers vindicated

AFTER years of battling for justice, Deseal-Reseal Support Group vice president Kathleen Henry finally feels vindicated.

A tearful Ms Henry addressed a support group meeting at the North Ipswich RSL Services Club on Saturday.

A parliamentary inquiry report into RAAF F-111 Deseal-Reseal workers and their families was tabled in Federal Parliament on Thursday.

The report into the RAAF program recommended about 2000 defence personnel who worked in the F-111 fuel tanks be included in the existing ex-gratia scheme.

Between 1977 and 2000, hundreds of RAAF workers worked on F-111 maintenance that required them to use chemicals in fuel tanks.

Ms Henry's husband Allan worked on the program in South Australia and Queensland from 1981 to 1987 and subsequently developed several autoimmune system diseases as a result.

She told the packed audience that the inquiry had finally given former personnel and their families “what they had been crying out for”.

“I sat and watched the inquiry on TV and it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” Ms Henry said.

“I had a big cry. Since 2004 we have tried to get recognition and we had the story told in full on TV nationwide.”

Inquiry chairman, Labor MP Arch Bevis, appeared at a weekend meeting.

Mr Bevis said he was convinced the range of debilitating illnesses experienced by former defence personnel was linked to the work.

“When you look at the complaints it is hard to find out how they are linked but so many have reported symptoms,” he said.

“Even if science can't keep up, I and the committee are satisfied there are health complaints.”

One such complainant is Albany Creek resident Terry Harrison who worked at the Amberley base from 1987 to 1995.

Mr Harrison said he had experienced dermatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and anxiety, conditions which he believed stemmed from his deseal/reseal work.

He said he was concerned about what he may have passed along to his three children, with one of his daughters unexplainably losing clumps of her hair for 12 months.

His other children have experienced mood swings and all have dermatitis.

“I'd come home and my wife would say 'have a shower' and I'd have to have four or five before the smell was gone,” he said.

“We don't know what the long term effects would be.”

Mr Harrison said he had no doubt RAAF had failed its personnel by not providing adequate protective equipment and by exposing staff to a poisonous cocktail of chemicals.

The Parliamentary Inquiry report made 18 recommendations which the Government is now considering.

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