The Victorian Government has recently completed its comprehensive review of the VIC Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and has committed $45.5 million over the next 18 months to extend its scope and powers, a sizable injection considering the EPAs current annual operating budget of approximately $70 million a year, suggesting a sincere desire by the Government for true reform.
Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) particularly applauds the Government’s decision to shift EPAs focus from responding to pollution to preventing it, and for prioritising public health alongside environmental protection. This is evidenced by the establishment of an environmental public health team within EPA, formalising the relationship between EPA and the Vic Department of Health and Human Services, the inclusion of a health expert onto the EPA’s expanded Board, and situating the Chief Health Officer on the Board’s science, engineering, and health advisory panel. With the threat of climate change to human health, DEA also praises the Government’s confirmation of EPAs authority to help regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Good human health is inextricably linked to a healthy environment, and any project or industry that has environmental impact creates potential human health risks that are often unaccounted for. The Victorian Government should be proud that it has begun to build an EPA with potential to be effective, far-reaching, and credible, to serve as a model that other states can and should emulate.