A network of health and medical organisations has come together to campaign for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia.
This campaign is in response to Australia’s obligation under the global climate agreement - the Paris Agreement - for all nations to consider their citizen’s “right to health" in the context of national climate policy.
It is underpinned by calls from the Climate and Health Alliance, the Australian Medical Association, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians for a national plan to address the health impacts of climate change.
For Australia to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement and for the protection of all our health, the federal government must develop a National Strategy on Climate Health and Well-being for Australia.
We are excited that we have support from the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens. To date we have written to both Federal Health Ministers, we have written to The Hon Sussan Ley, and to Greg Hunt on several occasions (March 2017, May 2017) offering a briefing on climate change and human health and urging him to commit to supporting the Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being. Unfortunately the Minister did not respond to invitations to the launch of the Framework, and has recently responded - see letter here.
This letter from the Minister refers to the ‘potential’ health impacts of climate change, which significantly downplays the risk described by the World Health Organisation as a health emergency, and by the Lancet medical journal as the greatest threat to health of the 21st century. The Minister’s apparent unwillingness to acknowledge climate change as a substantive, immediate, as well as long term risk to health is at odds with the responsibilities of the portfolio as Health Minister. It is also at odds with Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) which acknowledges climate change has “significant deleterious effects on human health and welfare”.
If you are also concerned about this position, please email your MP here and Minister Hunt will receive a copy of your email.
The inertia from within the Federal Coalition Government highlights how important your support for the campaign is. We have to maintain the pressure and the voices of 600,000 health professionals cannot be ignored.
The campaign is supported by the following health stakeholders:
The campaign to date:
In June 2016, the Climate and Health Alliance circulated its Discussion Paper: Towards a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being to 350 health stakeholders across Australia.
This paper reviews the health impacts of climate change in Australia, and examines the current national climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, and the extent to which they respond to the impacts of climate change on human health and the health sector. The Discussion Paper invited responses from all health stakeholders via an online survey.
In August 2016, a nine day Climate, Health & Well-being Online Discussion Forum was held to provide health stakeholders with another opportunity to respond to the ideas raised in the Discussion Paper. Check out the report from the Online Discussion Forum.
A Preliminary Report of responses to Discussion Paper via the online survey was published in September 2016. This survey also evaluated respondents’ knowledge and awareness regarding the health impacts of climate change, views on current national climate policy, and support for a National Strategy. Over 98% of respondents support a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia!
In October 2016, a Health Leaders Roundtable was held in Canberra to present the results from the consultation so far. Over 40 leaders from around 30 health and medical groups met with the Assistant Health Minister, Key Wyatt, Shadow Health Minister Catherine King, and Greens leader / health spokesperson, Richard Di Natale. You can read a report from the Roundtable here.
The Final Consultation Report was released in May 2017 detailing the complete findings from the Discussion Paper Survey, Online Discussion Forum, and Health Leaders Roundtable. It echoes the above findings that health professionals and leaders support a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being. It also demonstrates their high level of climate literacy and willingness to support the development and implementation of a national strategy by government and political parties. You can read the full Final Consultation Report here.
During 2017, the campaign research and policy team used the feedback from this national consultation to develop a Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia.
The Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia was publicly released and presented to parliamentarians in June 2017, seeking their support for its further development and implementation.
A full list of resources available from the campaign to date appears below:
+ Discussion Paper: Towards a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being for Australia
+ Preliminary Report of responses to the survey
+ Report from the Climate, Health & Well-being Online Discussion Forum revealed widespread consensus about the need for national leadership on policy to protect health from climate change
+ A series of forums have been held to share the Campaign for the National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being, download a copy of the presentation here.