Australian Broadcasting Corp. closes office over breast cancer risk
Last Updated: Thursday, December 21, 2006 | 9:35 AM ET
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is pulling out of its Brisbane offices because of what it calls a significant atypical spike in the incidence of breast cancer among staff.
Staff will be moved off site within days after an independent investigation confirmed an incidence of breast cancer among them is up to 11 times higher than for the wider community.
Since 1995, 10 women have developed the disease while working on the site.
ABC managing director Mark Scott has promised counselling and other support, including funding for medical tests, for anyone who may be affected by a high rate of cancer at the Brisbane studios.
Sydney University public health Prof. Bruce Armstrong's investigation has not found a direct cause of the cancer cluster, despite extensive testing.
The decision to remove staff from the Toowong studios was made as soon as Armstrong's report was delivered, Scott said.
"We are undertaking immediate moves to relocate the ABC offices and facilities here from this site at Toowong to other premises around Brisbane," he said.
"This process is starting today immediately and will take place in coming weeks, and we expect that by the end of January, we will have cleared most of this site."
The radio and television newsrooms have already been cleared.
One of the women who suffered from breast cancer while working for ABC News, Lisa Backhouse, said she is relieved about the decision to shut down the site.
"I would like to say to management, 'Thank you also for acting, but it's a shame it it wasn't done earlier,'" she said.
"It's a real pity it wasn't and it's a shame it took another person getting sick."
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said the state government will help the ABC find a new Brisbane site.