WA government demonstrates leadership in response to Climate Health Inquiry

Friday 04 December 2020

Australia’s peak body on climate change and health, the Climate and Health Alliance, has today welcomed the WA government’s in-principle endorsement of the recommendations coming from the Climate Health WA Inquiry.

The inquiry was the world’s first statutory inquiry focussed on the health impacts of climate change and lays out a path forward to help protect West Australians from climate-health impacts. 

The inquiry’s report details how climate change is already worsening the health of Western Australians through heatwaves, drought, bushfires and an increase in mosquito-borne viruses. 

It recognises the vulnerability of different members of the community to the health risks of climate change, such as those in remote WA, people who work outdoors and people on low incomes.

The report also highlights the important role of governments in communicating the links between climate change and health, and in providing guidance and practical advice to the community on climate-health impacts.

Quotes attributable to CAHA Executive Director and former nurse Fiona Armstrong:

“We welcome this world-leading inquiry’s report on climate change and health and are pleased that the WA government has given its recommendations in-principle support. 

“The WA government is positioning itself as one to watch when it comes to climate-health leadership and action.

“The early implementation of these recommendations would help millions of Western Australians feel safer, knowing their government is acting to protect the health of the community.

“We encourage the WA government to take hold of this opportunity. 

“We commend the WA government’s recent decision to establish a Sustainable Development Unit within the Department of Health to support WA health services to be sustainable, low-carbon and climate resilient.

“We are encouraged by the WA government’s indication it will develop a climate and health adaptation plan for WA, also outlined in the report, similar to that being implemented in Queensland. This will be critical to quickly begin to manage the negative health impacts of climate change on the WA population. 

“This of course must be accompanied by reducing WA’s greenhouse gas emissions and putting the state on a course to net-zero carbon, ensuring WA is playing its part to reduce future health, environmental, economic and social risks from worsening climate change.  

“The report makes very clear the role of the health system in informing and educating the community on the health risks of climate change. Health professionals and health service executives should be trained to build their capacity and knowledge to lead on this issue. 

“The health sector must also acknowledge its own contribution to climate change and environmental harm. As the report highlights, there is a pleasing start with all public health services now part of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network. 

“By commissioning this world first inquiry and giving in-principle support to its recommendations, the WA government has already demonstrated leadership on climate change and health. The federal government would do well to follow in WA’s footsteps.”

Read the Climate Health WA Inquiry Final Report here.

Media contact: Adam Pulford, 0424 885 387

The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) is Australia’s peak body on climate change and health. CAHA has over 45 health and medical group members, including Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.