Victorian public health and wellbeing plan

Erica Hunt sent the following letter to Geelong’s Councillors on 19 September 2019:

Dear Councillors,

You may (or may not) know that the State Government recently released its new Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019–2023. This plan continues on from the previous plan, but for the first time, ‘tackling climate change’ is the number one priority area in the plan. 

The Victorian Government has recognised that climate change is the the leading threat to health and wellbeing globally.

This Plan should feed into Local Government Council Plans, and Health & Well-being Plan.

From the Victorian Government Plan:

‘Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, local councils are required to protect, improve and promote public health and wellbeing within their municipality and prepare a Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan every four years. Under the Climate Change Act 2017 municipal public health and wellbeing plans must have regard to climate change.’
Could you please reply as to whether your own personal view and Council’s actions will be aligning with the new Victorian Government Health & Well being Plan?
Cited below from the Plan, evidence based actions that Counils can take on climate change and its impacts on health

‘Implement health-promoting and emissions-reducing policies

Climate change mitigation is critical to preventing the most significant public health impacts of climate change, and there are many initiatives that can be implemented by local government to both mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve health. For example, local councils could:

  • implement initiatives focussed on greening urban areas, such as maintaining and enhancing tree coverage and vegetation on properties, lining transport corridors, and greening public lands, roofs, facades and walls, and ensuring equitable access to quality open space; these activities can increase carbon sequestration, mitigate the impacts of increased average temperatures, increase the community’s resilience to extreme heat events, cool local environments, improve physical and mental health and create more opportunities for people to connect with nature.
  • plan and develop neighbourhoods and implement initiatives that support active lifestyles and emission reduction, including active and community transport.
  • implement programs to encourage sustainable, healthy diets and to reduce food waste
  • take opportunities to make buildings more energy efficient and climate resilient to protect the health and wellbeing of their occupants throughout the year.

Why tackling climate change and its impact on health is important

The World Health Organization has described climate change as the defining issue for public health in the 21st century. It is an urgent challenge, with implications at the global, national and community levels. Climate change affects health in many ways: directly by the increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events such as prolonged heatwaves, floods and bushfires; and indirectly through worsening air quality, changes in the spread of infectious diseases, risks to food safety and drinking water quality, and effects on mental health.

Strategic actions

  • Continued emphasis on understanding and assessing the risks of climate change to public health.
  • Promoting community adaptation to the public health risks associated with climate change.
  • Assessing the health co-benefits of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What we want to achieve

  • resilient and safe communities that are adapting to the public health impacts of climate change
  • decreased health impacts associated with climate change (for example, fewer deaths from extreme heat events, fewer mosquito-borne diseases, fewer food outbreaks, fewer algal blooms in drinking water catchments)
  • increased action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and realise health co-benefits.’
Thank you and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Erica Hunt

Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019–2023 (PDF, 4 MB)

Maree Fagan sent the following letter to Geelong’s Councillors on 24 September 2019:

Will Council listen to the climate change science?

“Dear City of Greater Geelong Councillors, I would like to have my say on the urgent need to declare a climate emergency. According to ABC News dated 8/09/19, out of 1,960 people surveyed 81% of 18-34 said climate change worried them compared to 67% of those aged 55 and over, clearly the younger generation who will inhabit this planet after the older generation have died off have a greater right to be worried and to demand climate action.

I am of the older generation and am proud to say that I believe in man-made climate change and that a climate emergency declaration is not only the best policy for the planet but to not do so is a dereliction of our duty of care to leave the planet in a liveable state for future generations. This declaration goes beyond the City of Greater Geelong, it is necessary for worldwide action and to join the growing concern worldwide about the future of the planet.

My questions are:

1. Will the council listen to the climate change science and the learned environmentalists and declare a climate emergency as soon as possible?

2. Will the council join with other councils worldwide and recognise and acknowledge that we have a global crisis that needs urgent action?

3. When the climate emergency is declared will the council work with concerned groups on ways to implement the climate emergency declaration?”  
~ Maree Fagan