Victoria targets climate change in new health plan; WA promotes better health for its LGBTQI community

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday August 30, 2019

Source: Unsplash

The Victorian government has prioritised tackling climate change in its new public health and wellbeing plan, while Western Australia has promoted LGBTQI health.

As one of 10 priorities, the plan acknowledges the “profound influence” that climate change has on community health, including already visible impacts such as heatwave-related deaths and an increase in mosquito-borne disease following floods.

“Climate change also has consequences for growing health inequalities, with population groups such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women, people with a chronic disease and low-income households disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change,” according to the paper.

Aside from the obvious benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the plan argues that addressing climate change offers health co-benefits, such as the promotion of healthy sustainable diets, walking and cycling.

However, it notes that “mitigating further impacts will require a collective effort by governments, industry, service providers, the emergency management and health sectors, communities, households and individuals”.

Other state priorities for the next four years include: reducing injury; preventing violence; increasing healthy eating and active living; decreasing the risk of drug-resistant infections; improving mental, sexual and reproductive health; and reducing tobacco, alcohol and drug-related harm.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said the plan aims to benefit all Victorians.

“This is our roadmap for fitter, healthier Victorians, no matter their age, background or where they live,” she said.

“For the first time, we’re taking a close look at the dangers of climate change to our health — and how we can protect Victorians.

“This plan is about government and the community working together to help Victorians be fit, active and healthy.”

Under Victoria’s Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, the state government is required to produce a plan every four years.

Consultation with the public health and wellbeing sector, data, emerging threats, strong evidence for what works and system stewardship will be considered in the process which underpins the plan.

Meanwhile in the west, the Minister for Health Roger Cook has announced a new strategy to promote better health for people in the LGBTQI community.

The strategy was developed with insight from the local LGBTQI community and health service providers, through a series of face-to-face community conversations and online surveys.

More than 600 submissions were received that outlined priorities which individuals from the community wanted to see addressed.

The strategy presents six priority areas which will promote better health outcomes for LGBTQI people over five years, such as promoting accessible and inclusive health services, leadership, affirmative practices, access to specific resources and services, research, education and training.

Cook said he is committed to hearing the community and learning how to improve their experiences with the health system.

“LGBTI people are at greater risk of experiencing marginalisation, persecution and disadvantage. Hundreds of voices were heard through the development of this strategy and we listened to the issues raised,” he said.

“We now have a roadmap for the next five years which will help remove barriers for LGBTI people when accessing health services in WA, promote leadership, understanding and inclusivity and lead to important change.”

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