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iDEA Conference 2020

iDEA 2020, the annual national conference for Doctors for the Environment Australia, is the leading Australian conference on Climate Change and Health and is being presented in partnership with the Climate Institute, ANU.  This year we welcome our friends and colleagues from around Australia to a cross-disciplinary meeting focusing on climate change as an increasing health crisis. 

Submission to the NSW Planning Department on the expansion of the Glendell mine in the Hunter Valley. 

The Hunter Valley already has the worst PM10* air pollution in New South Wales.   DEA considers that the Glendell expansion proposal is not in the national or local community interest and should be rejected on the grounds of local air quality impacts and on global climate grounds, which have severe adverse health impacts at both a local and global scale. 

Submission to NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the costs for remediation of sites containing coal ash repositories 

The process of coal combustion leads to a concentration of trace elements in the resulting waste ash. While exposure to the traces of these elements in nature does not usually result in toxicity, their concentration in coal ash has the potential for dysfunction of multiple organ systems. 

#NoTimeForGames: A National Children's Health Campaign 

The #NoTimeForGames campaign, an initiative of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), highlighted the effects of climate change on children’s health. It called upon our elected leaders to take action, recognising that if we fail to act now on climate change, adaptation may not be possible and many societies will struggle to survive. 

Media release: Doctors warn extending the life of Vales Point coal-fired power station will have a human cost, from Lake Macquarie to Sydney  

Doctors have today slammed the Morrison government’s proposed $11m grant to Vales Point coal-fired power station, as the money to prolong the life of this ageing coal fired-power station is likely to exacerbate harmful pollution reaching the large population centre of Sydney, especially in summer when north easterly winds are common. 

DEA launches its five-year plan for transformational change 

We are delighted to announce the launch of DEA’s vision for a Healthy Planet, Healthy People over the next five years, and we thank all our wonderful members and friends who made the event on Saturday 15 February, either in person or via Facebook Live, a huge success.   These next five years will be a critical time for action on climate change and other environmental harms, and we are confident  DEA's "road map" will ensure our organisation is well placed to lead on addressing these enormous challenges.

Media release: Doctors’ open letter to the Premier of Tasmania: logging is a health hazard  

Dear Premier Gutwein, Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is alarmed at the resumption of old growth logging in the North West of Tasmania, as it imperils community health. We urge the State Government to cancel plans to log coupes in the takayna/Tarkine bio-region including Que Road, and for future forestry operations there to be suspended. There is no justification for ongoing logging in the face of the climate crisis and accelerating loss of forests to bushfire and other human activities. 

DEA February Newsletter

This is members-only content - please log in to view. Alternatively, if you are a Doctor or Medical Student, please join DEA.

Victoria’s new environmental laws submission

This submission focuses primarily upon aspects of the new EP laws as they relate to air pollution and climate change, as these are closely related to DEA policy and expertise. DEA expertise is medical rather than legal and our submission is made upon this basis

Open flued gas space heaters discussion paper submission.

Gas is often regarded as a ‘clean’ fuel, but air pollutants released from the combustion of methane indoors can cause or exacerbate illness involving the heart, lungs brain or nervous system. Open flued gas space heaters (OFSGHs) can sometimes provide a direct pathway for these pollutants into a room.  DEA recommends a phase out of OFGSHs, which includes a ban on all new installations (Option 3).

Submission on Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Territorial Limits) Bill 2019

DEA objects to the proposed Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Territorial Limits) Bill 2019. Eliminating assessment of downstream or Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions from major projects in New South Wales will increase greenhouse gas emissions, driving increased climate change whose health impacts will be felt on a local and global scale. 

Media release: Doctors slam NSW Government’s proposed planning changes

Doctors are demanding that the NSW Government abandons its bill to change the law so that the emissions from burning fossil fuels outside NSW no longer need to be taken into account when approving new coal and gas projects.

Leading international health groups issue joint statement calling for Siemens to #StopAdani 

Dear Mr Kaeser, As a company committed to health and sustainability, Siemens’ decision to provide rail signalling for the Adani coal mine is deeply disappointing. We, the undersigned, urge you to restore our trust in your company by reconsidering your decision on the Adani contract. The world does not need another coal mine. Coal is a major contributor to climate change, which the health sector has determined to be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. 

iNews: Australian doctor on 'nerve-wracking' wildfires and climate crisis: ‘You can taste it and I make sure my children stay indoors’

Canberra Cardiologist, Dr Arnagretta Hunter, provides an insight into how the fires are impacting both her personal and professional worlds.

New Hope Coal Mine (NHC) application to use prime agricultural land

While Australia burns as part of the climate crisis, the State of Queensland continues its fervent quest to develop more coal. This is the sixth submission written on New Hope Coal mine by DEA since 2012.   

Letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison: "the leader who failed to lead on Climate Change."

To Scott Morrison,  like everyone else in Australia, and increasingly around the world, I have spent the past couple of months in horrified disbelief at the scale of the bushfire emergency. The loss of life, devastation of ecosystems, decimation of wildlife and destruction of property are genuinely beyond comprehension – we simply have nothing to compare these events to, and consequently it is almost impossible to process. I am deeply saddened and increasingly frightened about the future. And beyond donating to fundraising efforts, I feel helpless in my capacity to meaningfully contribute in the face of this ongoing tragedy. But as a citizen of this country, I can write to you and your Coalition colleagues and share my views.

Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen in the SMH: The warming planet is already killing people, so health policy must catch up

DEA welcomes Federal Opposition health spokesperson Chris Bowen's statement in the SMH that Australia's government response to the challenges of a changing climate should reflect the urgency the medical profession has placed on this major public health issue. Mr Bowen acknowledges that organisations from Doctors for the Environment Australia to the Australian Medical Association have declared climate change as a health emergency. He states that given the dangers it poses to the health of Australians, it's vital to implement a national climate change health strategy. 

Newcastle Herald: Michael Schien writes, the real threat to national security is the way our system makes rational planning virtually impossible

The climate emergency has arrived, writes Dr Michael Schien. With the first degree of the predicted four degrees of warming by 2100, this 11,000 kilometre fire front is stretching our capacity to respond,  while weeks of smoke have replaced the clean air that our forests usually provide us for free. Positive change means facing at least two major issues.

New Daily: Burning anxiety--The new normal isn’t just the fire, it’s the fear

Speaking to The New Daily, psychiatrist Dr Robert Llewellyn-Jones and Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin highlight that climate change impacts such as Australia's unprecedented fires not only have direct physical impacts- they also affect our mental health. 

Support the bushfire recovery effort

The prolonged drought and subsequent catastrophic bushfires continue to unfold and demand immediate attention. Many DEA members have been directly affected, and have provided medical and other practical advice and assistance. DEA encourages its members to also donate to one of the many reputable charities that are well set up to assist people who have been affected and to those helping animals that are suffering. 

AusDoc: As Australia burns, where is our plan?

As the fires continue to burn across eastern Australia, DEA's Honorary Secretary Dr Richard Yin and DEA member Dr George Crisp, write the full scale of the health impacts and the capacity of health services to adequately respond is emerging--doctors on the frontline who are working in evacuation centres report they are dealing with up to 1000 evacuees, with very little equipment or support. Scientists have long predicted the compounding effects of climate change, yet plans for adaptation and mitigation have been inadequate . It is time we accept the science and the challenge before us and take urgent action on the climate crisis.

Hot and bothered: heat affects all of us, but older people face the highest health risks

Australia’s climate is changing, writes DEA's ACT Chair Dr Arnagretta Hunter in The Conversation, and we’re likely to experience longer periods of hot temperatures, with hotter summers and some extraordinarily high temperatures. This will test our health, especially those of older members in the community,  and our health-care systems. Understanding the challenge ahead can help to reduce the risks.

A New Year's Message from DEA’s Co-chairs 

The dawn of the New Year and new decade in a very favoured country ought to be greeted with positive anticipation and firm new resolutions. Yet our thoughts are with all Australians that are suffering so much loss and distress across the nation. Much of our country is in a prolonged drought and on fire and the world is in great environmental and geo-political peril. Governments at home and abroad have not heeded the most authoritative scientific evidence and advice available. Many influential politicians and media commentators remain climate change sceptics. It gives no pleasure to observe that what DEA and so many other scientific bodies and organisations have been predicting and working hard over decades to minimise is becoming a reality. 

Letter to Siemens Australia and New Zealand: Stop Adani

Dear Mr Connolly, I write as the Secretary for Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) in regards to Siemens’ involvement in Adani’s Carmichael coal mine and rail project. 

New fact sheet: Heatwaves and Health in Australia

Heatwaves have been called ‘silent’ killers and, without reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, they are predicted to become more frequent, more intense and longer. DEA's new comprehensive fact sheet uses the most up- to- date authoritative resources to detail the impacts of heatwaves on our health, what we can do to reduce their occurrence, where health professionals and the public can find more information, and much more.  

Libération: Australie "La fumée s'est infiltrée partout, dans les maisons, les bureaux et même à l'hôpital"

French daily newspaper, Libération, interviewed DEA's co-chair Dr Eugenie Kayak about the health impacts of the hazardous smoke pollution in Sydney from the NSW bushfires, which have for weeks ravaged the east coast of Australia. Exposure to smoke pollution is known to increase the incidence of lung and heart diseases. Dr Kayak said that while official health impact figures will not be known until the end of the bushfire season, it's expected that the figures will be alarming. 

RACGP declares climate change a public health emergency

DEA congratulates the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) in declaring climate change a health emergency. The RACGP has joined other major medical colleges and organisations in raising the alarm over the current and growing impact of climate change.  

ABC's World Today: Heatwave to hit record temperatures across Australia

As Australians this week brace for a nationwide heatwave which could see temperatures approach 50 degrees in some areas, Dr Arnagretta Hunter says that while people have lived with such high temperatures, worsening climate change could test our biological limits over the coming years. 

Media release: Major health groups declare bushfire smoke a public health emergency

Doctors for the Environment Australia is today joining a coalition of Australia’s major health and medical groups in declaring hazardous air pollution from bushfire smoke in  Sydney and other areas in NSW a public health emergency. The groups are also linking the fires to climate change.    

SMH: 'Horrified' doctors call for direct action on bushfire health threat

Doctors for the Environment Australia is horrified by the reaction of the Morrison government to the unprecedented public health threat from the hazardous air pollution in Sydney and surrounds which has been triggered by the bushfires, reports the SMH. DEA is calling for the Morrison government to transition Australia from its reliance on fossil fuels- a main driver of the climate emergency that is increasing and intensifying these fires.

Doctors: Bushfires in NSW pose a major public health threat and the Government needs to act   

Doctors for the Environment Australia calls for a federally coordinated national meeting to direct action in response to the unprecedented public health threat from months of bushfire smoke in eastern Australia. DEA fears exposure will potentially affect the health and wellbeing of up to ten million people in both the short and longer term. 

Medical Republic: Australia’s doctors raise their voices on climate change

With the early start to our bushfire season, widespread fires burning across the country with tragic loss of life and property, and a number of areas breaking November heat records, three medical colleges, the RACP,  ACEM and ACRRM representing tens of thousands of doctors recently declared climate change a health emergency, writes DEA's Hon Secretary Dr Richard Yin. They join the AMA and DEA which this year also declared a climate health emergency. The clear message to our leaders is that the time to act on the climate crisis is now.

Response to Alexander Downer: how much are we prepared to pay for our children’s future?

Alexander Downer, a former leader of the Liberal Party , Minister for Foreign Affairs and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, wrote in the Australian Financial Review  last Monday (18 Nov)  that climate leadership would be expensive “virtue signalling”, that climate change has become a highly “emotional issue”, and rational discussion has been abandoned. He describes climate change as the Rubik’s cube of politics and asks us to join with him in “connecting the squares” to understand what is going on. Dr Graeme McLeay writes: Let us look then, rationally of course, at some of the claims he makes.

Medical colleges declare a climate emergency

DEA congratulates the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP), the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) who today declared climate change a health emergency. 

Shadow Minister for Health: climate change must be a National Health Priority Area

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) welcomes the statements made by Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen that Australia needs to develop policies and structures to prepare for the health impacts of climate change. As Mr Bowen states in a Guardian article, "...despite the fact we  [Australia] are more exposed than most, and our medical community is increasingly vocal on the issue, from Doctors for the Environment, to the Australian Medical Association, which recently declared climate change to be a health emergency”, we have no national strategy. 

DEA welcomes Denise Cauchi OAM as Executive Director

We are thrilled to announce that Denise Cauchi OAM has commenced this week as Executive Director for DEA.

MJA-Lancet report prompts doctors to call for urgent action on climate change   

Doctors demand that the federal government takes immediate action to protect Australians from the unprecedented risks to their health from climate change, in response to a major new report published today. 

Media release: Doctors call on regulator to reject banned toxic chemical in the Great Australian Bight

Doctors for the Environment  Australia  calls on the national offshore oil and gas regulator to reject Equinor's plan to use a banned toxic chemical dispersant for an oil spill  in the Great Australian Bight, as it would place response workers and local communities at risk of serious illness.  

Medical Forum bumper issue on doctors as climate change champions

From letters to the editor to feature articles about doctors stepping out to join the School Strike for Climate,  this month's edition of Medical Forum shows DEA's WA members are a force to be reckoned with in the fight against climate change. 

Independent Australia: Australia’s energy policies are doctors’ business

It is extraordinary that Energy Minister Angus Taylor continues to cling to a fossil fuel past at a time when Australia’s emissions are still rising and the urgency required for global action on climate change mounts, writes Dr Graeme McLeay. What we really need is the Energy Minister and his government to see the tremendous opportunities in sun, wind and wave and to steer our country towards a clean energy future that doesn’t cost our health, our planet or our pockets. 

Media release: Doctors alarmed by the destruction of takayna/ Tarkine call for a stop to logging 

Tasmanian doctors have today called for an urgent halt to destructive logging of the Sumac forests of the takayna/Tarkine, as conservationists step up protests against proposed logging in the area.  Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says that damage to the takayna/Tarkine is not only an environmental issue but one which affects the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians. 

Croakey: Formulating a medical response to a deadly disease of disordered thinking

We have systems to weigh up the risks and benefits of extracting, transporting, exporting and using coal, gas and oil but  who should be at the table when those risks are discussed? Dr David Shearman argues that Australia’s formal decision making in this area is impaired by a sickness afflicting our systems of governance. 

Letter to the Editor: Media must let the truth prevail

Is there no end to the contention by climate change sceptics, who report in The Australian, that action is useless and that adaptation will see us through? asks Dr John Iser in his Letter to the Editor which as far as we know has not been published. As he states, the media’s role is to shed light on truth, not to obfuscate it; to challenge power, not be beholden to it.

The Armidale Express: Armidale GP Dr Sujata Allan explains why climate change is the century's greatest health challenge

Dr Sujata Allan says that in her practice, she has already seen the toll a warming planet has taken on her patients.  She states there is widespread concern about global heating among the medical profession, medical colleges, the AMA and other groups, and urges a co-ordinated national strategy to prepare our towns, communities, and health practices for climate change impacts.

DEA marks World Food Day

Public Health Nutritionist, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, says there should be enough food for everyone on World Food Day.  Yet hunger is a real problem throughout many parts of the world, with over 820 million people going hungry every day, impairing the growth and development of millions of children. We need to pause and consider how we use the earth's finite resources to produce food for all. 

Origin Energy AGM: Doctors warn that fracking is a public health hazard   

Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia will attend Origin Energy’s AGM on Wednesday to raise the alarm about the risks of NT fracking on public health. Spokesperson for DEA, Dr Helen Redmond, says the evidence against fracking is clear and there should be no further development of onshore gas in Australia.   

The Canberra Times: Populate and perish; the fleeting hope of a population policy

The Launch of the new Centre for Population raised a flicker of hope of a remit to develop a population policy for Australia - but the hope was fleeting, writes Dr David Shearman. The proposal makes no mention of the constraints of climate change, water scarcity or the concept of sustainability, which are crucial to the long term maintenance of our present population and indeed the projected increase of between 37 and 49 million people by 2066. 

Newcastle Herald: Emotional toll of mining brought to surface

The effects of coal mining are not only physical, they're also emotional, writes Dr Bob Vickers. In the Hunter Valley, thermal coal mining is creating an adversarial culture in coal communities as both those against and for continued mining advocate for a future that they believe will best look after themselves and their families. 

VicDoc: Health experts call for stronger national air pollution standards

Health experts unite to call on our environment ministers to limit dangerous pollutants that include nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone to improve air quality, writes Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos AM. Air pollution is currently causing more than 3000 premature and preventable deaths per year in Australia, as well as contributing to asthma, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. The call to clean up our air and bring it in line with international best practice comes as state and federal environment ministers prepare to review the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM).

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