Media release: No Time for Games: Children’s health and Climate Change report

May 31, 2015

Australian children are the ones who will be most likely to suffer from increased cases of disease and infection as a result of climate change, former Australian of the Year and leading paediatrician Professor Fiona Stanley has warned.

A new report by Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), a national organisation of medical doctors which raises awareness about the link between health and the environment, finds changing weather conditions are expected to make some illnesses like gastroenteritis and asthma more common or more severe and more likely to threaten the lives of Australian children.

It also says that children in particular will suffer psychological or physical trauma from increasing bushfires and floods, and they are more at risk from diseases that have been previously uncommon in Australia, such as dengue fever.

The report, No Time for Games: Children’s Health and Climate Change also highlights the need for GPs and hospitals to start preparing health systems to cope with the increasing impacts of climate change.

The report comes ahead of the Government’s soon to be released emissions targets which it will take to the global climate change summit in Paris in December later this year.

Professor Stanley will launch the report in Perth on Sunday 31 May in the Federal seat of Curtin, held by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who is expected to be Australia’s lead negotiator in Paris.

The report makes four key recommendations to tackle climate change:

  • Strong targets in the Paris climate change meeting in December
  • Urgent transition to clean energy sources
  • Realise the potential local benefits of curbing climate change, such as reduced air pollution and better designed cities
  • Government measures to help health and emergency services prepare for the demands placed on infrastructure by climate change

“Our children top the list of those most likely to suffer from climate change,” says Professor Stanley. “It falls on today’s generation to act in their best interests. Their future, their health must be our number one priority. “

The report’s principal author Dr Sallie Forrest emphasises the major risks to children’s health if greenhouse gas emission levels do not start falling this decade.

“As this report makes clear we are already seeing changes from the impacts of changing temperatures and if we continue along this path, science tells us we will see 4°C of warming this century which opens children up to risk of water and food shortages and social and economic disruption,” Dr Forrest says.

“This is why we as doctors have a duty to speak up as we have against tobacco and asbestos. This report is about raising our voices about the urgent need to act to protect our children.”

You can read the report in full here.

Ivey Watson Playground (next to Stickybeak’s Café)
Lottery West Family Area
Kings Park
Off Kings Park Road

Photo opportunity
Several primary school-aged children will act as mascots, dressed in rubber boots with umbrellas and stethoscopes. They are available to be photographed at the event.

Media interviews:
Dr Sallie Forrest, 0434 049 715
Professor Kingsley Faulkner, 0419 936 677
(Professor Fiona Stanley available on request)
Media Officer, Carmela Ferraro, 0410 703 074

DEA is supported by a Scientific Advisory Committee:

Professor Stephen Boyden AM; Professor Peter Doherty AC, FRS, FAA; Professor Bob Douglas AO; Professor Dave Griggs; Professor Michael Kidd AM; Professor David de Kretser AC; Professor Steve Leeder AO; Professor Ian Lowe AO; Professor Robyn McDermott; Professor Peter Newman; Sir Gustav Nossal, AC, CBE, FAA, FRS; Professor Hugh Possingham; Professor Lawrie Powell AC; Professor Fiona Stanley AC; Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM; Norman Swan; Professor David Yencken AO


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