The report into health improvements for the residents of the Latrobe Valley was today tabled in Parliament, after the Andrews Labor Government reopened the Mine Fire Inquiry last year.
This report highlights the complex health and well-being challenges facing Latrobe Valley communities, in the context of the on-going physical and mental impacts of the Mine Fire.
It follows last year’s report that found it was likely the Hazelwood Mine Fire contributed to an increase in deaths in the Latrobe Valley in 2014.
For those in the community that raised concerns about the impact of the mine fire on their health and the health of their loved ones only to be dismissed by the former Coalition Government, this report, like the one before it, will vindicate these concerns.
The Labor Government reopened the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry to get to the bottom of community health concerns after they were ignored by the former Coalition Government. We wanted to give the community the answers and certainty they deserved.
That’s why in addition to reopening the Mine Fire Inquiry, we listened to the community and took action to provide immediate support to address health concerns, including funding a new health clinic and lung function testing equipment.
The long-term health study in the Latrobe Valley is underway, rapid air quality monitoring capabilities have been established and a State Smoke Plan is in place to guide the State’s responses to fires and other smoke events.
In its latest report, the Board of Inquiry identifies a number of priority areas to improve the overall health and well-being of Latrobe Valley communities including:
- Improving integration of care for chronic diseases
- Advancing tele-medicine
- Promoting well-being and preventing family violence
- Supporting smoking cessation
- Increased social marketing to improve pride of place
The Government welcomes the report’s findings, and will continue to work closely with Latrobe Valley communities and industries to progress implementation of all of the 2014 Inquiry recommendations.
We have also written to the Commonwealth Government to request their support for future health funding for the Latrobe Valley, in line with the Inquiry Board’s findings.
A formal, whole-of-Government response will be provided once the reopened Inquiry delivers its final recommendations for all Terms of Reference. The final report, which will address findings into coal rehabilitation, will be provided in March.
We have also already commenced work on how best to tackle the future of health care in Victoria, with work underway to identify opportunities to reform our health system.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“The community raised concerns about the impact of the 2014 mine fire on their health and the health of their loved ones, but these concerns were dismissed by the former Coalition Government.”
“We’ll continue to work with the community to improve health and well-being in the Valley and repair the damage and hurt that occurred as a result of the former Government’s botched handling of the Mine Fire.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing
“After being abandoned by the former Coalition Government, I hope the findings of this report go some way to giving the communities in the Valley the answers and hope they deserve.”
“We still have more work to do but we are determined to stand by and support the community to move forward, and ensure we have the right measures in place to prevent this from happening again.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020