Former RAAF airframe fitter Terry Harrison faces an uncertain future after working on F111 fuel tanks.
Former RAAF airframe fitter Terry Harrison faces an uncertain future after working on F111 fuel tanks.

Gladstone man battles for RAAF compo

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

'TODAY is my 36th birthday, but how much longer have I got?'

This is the sad reality faced by local man Terry Harrison after contracting health problems from working with toxic solvents and chemicals in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Mr Harrison was part of the RAAF's deseal/reseal program in the late 1980s at Amberley Air Base near Brisbane.

The program required Mr Harrison and his colleagues to work in confined spaces with toxic materials, which have since been found to cause serious health conditions including cancer.

Mr Harrison now suffers from mood swings, dizzy spells, outbreaks of lesions, headaches and memory loss, but there are those involved in the program who are less fortunate.

Since leaving the air force Mr Harrison has seen some of his former collegues die from the effects of the work, and he now he wonders how long he has left.

Mr Harrison also worries about the effects the toxins he was forced to work with may have on his children, born after he finished in the program.

'It's not just myself that suffers, it's the family as well,' Mr Harrison said.

'I have three young girls and I worry that it may have carry-on effects for them.'

Mr Harrison said while a health study into the effects of the deseal/reseal program by the air force concluded there was a problem, as yet no compensation had been seen despite the compensation process beginning more than five years ago.

A spokesperson for the Veterans Affairs Minister De-Anne Kelly yesterday said the Government had announced a lump sum benefit to those exposed and details of the payment were being finalised and would be released as soon as possible.

Mr Harrison said the process had been drawn out and would not help those who had died because of the health effects.

He has visited local doctors for his condition, but due to a lack of knowledge now needs to travel to Brisbane for further medical help.

'Yes, it's a concern that it got to this point, but it's more of a concern that we have these problems and we have to pay for it out of our pockets,'' he said.

As Anzac Day draws near and Australians remember those troops who sacrificed themselves on the front line, Mr Harrison has asked that those who made sacrifices at home are also remembered.



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