There was a large turnout in Melbourne in March when the Victorian branch of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF – Vic) held their second interdisciplinary conference about health and environmental sustainability.
Nurses, midwives and sustainability – we’re all in this together
It was great to see so many nurses in Victoria being involved and showing their support and understanding of the connection between environmental issues and health.
The conference was even bigger than last year’s successful event – there were so many registrations the event had to be moved from the branch’s education centre to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
An inspiring program attracted over 500 members or participants. Sustainability efforts were brought alive through positive stories of possibility and practical action, with motivating speakers capturing the attention of nurses and midwives.
Congratulations to ANMF for making great progress and expanding their annual Health and Environmental Sustainability Conference, their networks and partnerships.
This conference was really an exceptional example of the importance of health professionals getting together and sharing information and having an opportunity to endorse sustainability efforts. Attending a conference of this calibre is clearly appreciated as a useful stepping stone for many health professionals both to start sharing ideas that are already developed without having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and for taking initial steps to evaluate their own workplace practices.
Networking opportunities abounded, with the conference providing nurses and midwives with the chance to meet other health professionals within workplaces and across health services sharing the same interest in health and environmental sustainability, as well as the chance to connect with leading experts and researchers who came with their expertise in environmental issues and health impacts.
Highlights and speakers
Dr Barbara Sattler is highly respected nurse academic and public health advocate for environmental health and has been integral in initiating environmental health in nursing practice and education.
Some key studies shared by Dr Sattler included a benchmark investigation on pollution in newborns – and biomonitoring studies of chemical exposure in healthcare found in doctors and nurses (such as BPA, phthalates, PBDE, triclosan). The latter found increased risk of developing illnesses such as cancer and asthma among in many health professionals.
Dr Sattler’s emphasis was on the need to removechemical exposures in hospitals and other health settings as well as waste reduction. Suggested ways are through environmentally friendly and sustainable procurement, renewable energy systems, improving efficiency in energy and water use, recycling, and composting among many other things. In accordance to the hospital environmental health assessment tool developed by Health Care Without Harm, better coordination around hospital policy, advocacy, education, research and practice settings was underlined.
Lastly, Dr. Sattler highlighted the importance of nurses and midwives as trusted conveyors of health information to patients, to community and policymakers. Nurses and midwives can bridge the relationship between the community and clinical information, and thus not only have an important voice but ultimately many decisions about healthy/sustainable choices is in their hands.
- State of the Environment Victoria 2013 Report
- Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
- Health Care Without Harm
- Barwon Health Sustainability Initiatives on Youtube
- Melbourne Health Think Green Strategy
- Koo Wee Rup Regional Health Service
- The Human Cost of Power
- Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action
- Recycling near you, where you live
- Health Purchasing Victoria firstname.lastname@example.org