Page 3370 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022

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(b) continue to work with the Albanese Government, through National Cabinet and Health Ministers’ meetings to support the development of a National Climate Health Strategy;

(c) develop a nation leading ACT climate change and health plan that reflects the ongoing work of National Cabinet and Health Ministers on a National Climate Health Strategy;

(d) continue to participate in knowledge and information sharing through the Alliance for Transformative Action on Climate and Health and expedite consideration of formal membership;

(e) ensure that the ACT Health Directorate collects and reports on data to monitor progress against resilience indicators, including continuation of the longitudinal survey and climate-related health impacts and costs; and

(f) report back to the ACT Legislative Assembly by the last sitting of 2023.”.

I thank Mr Davis and his office for the work that they have done with us on this amendment.

As we have previously discussed, the interaction between health and climate change is broad and complex. The health sector plays an important role in contributing to the problem, with estimates that it is responsible for about seven per cent of Australia’s total emissions. We all know that the effects of climate change on health and wellbeing are mediated through direct and indirect impacts, with effects felt across individuals, communities, all of the health sector and through the social determinants of health.

With more frequent and intense extreme weather events, these impacts are tangible, and are being seen globally, nationally, and locally in the ACT. Our predicted rates of climate change, air quality, and water and food security, will continue to be intermittently at risk in the future, and patterns of infectious and vector-borne diseases will change. We only need to cast our minds back a few months, to the outbreak of the Japanese encephalitis virus across the eastern seaboard of Australia to find a recent example of the challenges that the rapidly changing climate presents to all of us. I was reflecting on that when I was listening to Mr Davis’s comments about mosquito-borne diseases, and the things we need to do in our physical infrastructure to reduce the risk. It is, in fact, already here, in JEV.

We all remember the Black Summer bushfires that blanketed our city in smoke, and the impacts that that had on the community. These examples reflect the diverse and complex challenges to our health system and community. Whether it be at the level of the coordination of a sector-wide public health response to JEV, or the community-wide response rolled out during the smoke of the bushfires, we need to be prepared to respond to complex health, environmental, social and economic impacts of these climate related events. Being prepared, and improving the resilience of our community, and our health system, is critical. As I stated in the debate on 7 April:

The ACT government has been considering and responding to the growing risks of climate change and these impacts on the ACT community and government operations for more than a decade.

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