Study Timeline

The study commenced in November 2014 and is now in it's 9th year. The various research streams rolled out at different times and targeted different groups of people and health outcomes. An overview of the timelines for the various streams is provided below.

Community Wellbeing

In the period 2015-2017 the Community Wellbeing Stream undertook extensive data collection including interviews, focus groups and analysis of media and social media. Two volumes of findings are available on the Study Findings page. The work culminated in the “Our Hopes for the Future of Morwell” photographic exhibition. An online slideshow of the photographs in the exhibition can be seen here.

In 2020-2024, the Community Wellbeing Stream’s aims include continuing to assess perceptions of the community’s wellbeing and recovery after the Hazelwood mine fire, taking into account subsequent events (e.g. the closure of the Hazelwood power station and Morwell mine and other large local employers, the January 2020 mega fires and the COVID-19 pandemic), as well as recent health initiatives (such as the Latrobe Health Innovation Zone, Latrobe Health Assembly and Latrobe Health Advocate).

The stream is developing a “Community wellbeing barometer” that brings together community perceptions of wellbeing and existing community wellbeing indicator proxy measures. The aim of the barometer is to provide a holistic tool to capture the changes in key dimensions that underpin community wellbeing. Finally, the stream is examining the relationship between community wellbeing and personal wellbeing (in conjunction with the Psychological Impacts stream).

The Latrobe ELF Study

More than 500 eligible infants and their parents, from across the Latrobe Valley, were enrolled in the Latrobe ELF (Early Life Follow up) Study between 2015 and 2016. Initially, parents completed a health survey in regard to their children’s health and a time location diary from which to estimate mine fire smoke exposure. Since the initial survey, many parents have continued to provide monthly symptom diaries in regard to their children’s health. In 2017 more than 200 infants undertook vascular testing and more than 100 underwent lung function testing. A number of reports, research summaries and publications describing findings are available on the Study Findings page. In 2020 a second round of vascular and lung function testing was planned, this time including children who were too young for these tests in 2017. However the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in that testing being rescheduled to 2021. In 2021 the second round of testing was undertaken and has now been completed. The third and final round of testing will be completed this year.

Older People

Focus group discussions with community members, along with interviews with key stakeholders were completed in 2016. A brief summary of the findings and a more detailed report were provided in early 2017. These documents are available on the Study Findings page. The Older People Stream has since merged with Community Wellbeing, Psychological Impacts and Adult Survey streams which include a focus on the health and wellbeing of older people.

Psychological Impacts

Schools Study: Data collection from students in 22 participating schools across the Latrobe Valley was undertaken in 2015 and 2017. Several reports and publications arising from this research can be found on the Fact Sheets and Summaries and the Study Findings pages. Analysis and reporting are now complete, with the final publications on educational outcomes and post-traumatic stress expected to be released later this year.

Adult Psychological Impacts: Adult Survey participants who were residents in Morwell at the time of the mine fire were invited to complete a follow-up survey of mental health and wellbeing. Over 700 people participated in the survey which took place between December 2019 and March 2020. The first report became available in 2020 with further findings released since then. Further publications relating to ongoing distress, community wellbeing and somatic symptoms are expected to be released in 2023. In 2022, participants who completed the 2019-2020 follow-up survey were invited to complete a further follow-up survey. Over 500 people participated, with analysis underway and the first report expected to be released later this year.

ELF (Early Life Follow up) Study: The Psychological Impacts stream will be working with the ELF stream to look at the mental health and wellbeing of families participating in the ELF study. Because of delays due to COVID-19, this work took place in mid-2022. Over 400 families were invited to participate in the survey, with more than half participating. Analysis is now underway, with the first report expected to be released later this year.

Adult Survey

Recruitment into the Adult Survey took place between May 2016 and February 2017, with approximately 4000 people participating. Two technical reports describing the findings, Adult Survey Volumes 1 and 2 have been released, along with a number of other targeted publications. Copies are available on the Fact Sheets and Summaries and Study Findings pages. A large number of Adult Survey participants have since participated in follow up testing as part of the Respiratory Stream and Cardiovascular Stream. The third round of respiratory clinical assessments will be taking place this year (see Respiratory Stream below). Morwell Adult Survey participants were also invited to participate in a follow-up survey of mental health and wellbeing in 2019-2020 and again in 2022 (see Psychological Impacts above).

Respiratory Stream

The Respiratory Stream undertook follow up clinical testing on 519 Adult Survey participants between August 2017 and March 2018. Findings in relation to smoke exposure and asthma in this group can be found on the Fact Sheets and Summaries page. Further follow up testing of this group occurred in 2021 with findings due to be published in the first half of 2023. The third and final round of testing is scheduled for 2023 with all participants from round 1 to be invited to return for further assessment. In addition, ongoing respiratory outcomes will be assessed through the Hazelinks stream.

The long-term respiratory follow up surveyed 612 Adult Survey participants between August and December 2022. The purpose was to determine whether smoke exposure from the coalmine fire and Black Summer were associated with long-term respiratory symptoms and COVID-19 infection and severe disease, and whether a diet containing higher levels of fruit, vegetables, or wholegrains protect against these effects. We are currently analysing these data and will present findings shortly.

Cardiovascular Stream

The Cardiovascular Stream undertook follow up clinical testing on 498 Adult Survey participants between October 2017 and May 2018. Findings in relation to smoke exposure, blood pressure (hypertension) and heart health in this group can be found on the Fact Sheets and Summaries page. Ongoing cardiovascular outcomes are being assessed by the Hazelinks stream.

Air quality assessment

The air quality team at the CSIRO have completed extensive analysis of the smoke plume from the mine fire including:

  • How far the smoke travelled and how often the smoke passed over different towns in the Latrobe Valley and the broader Gippsland region for the duration of the fire.
  • The pollutants in the smoke including particles smaller than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) and smaller than 10 μm (PM10), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (e.g. benzene and formaldehyde), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
  • Modelled estimates of the concentrations of two major pollutants, PM2.5 and CO, experienced by nearby communities.

CSIRO used weather information such as wind direction, wind speed and temperature, combined with an estimate of how much coal was burned each day during the fire using fire activity maps provided by the Country Fire Authority. Air quality measurements made by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria near the fire location were used to calculate the amount of  PM2.5 and CO released per unit mass of burning coal. All this information was put into computer modelling to predict the levels of PM2.5 and CO in the Latrobe Valley for the duration of the fire. This information is available on the Reports and Fact Sheets and Summaries pages.


Throughout the period 2015-2020, the Hazelinks Stream has obtained data which has assisted in describing ambulance callouts, hospital emergency department presentations and hospital admissions, health service use, pharmaceutical/ medication use, background (pre-mine fire) cancer rates and post mine fire death rates in the local region. A number of reports, research summaries and publications describing the findings are available on the Fact Sheets and Summaries and Study Findings pages. It is anticipated that Hazelinks will continue to obtain updated data from these sources until at least 2023. As part of this work, the stream will work with other streams to report on mental health, respiratory and cardiovascular outcomes.

Our Partners

Acknowledgement to Country

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land where our Study teams are based, particularly the Gunaikurnai peoples of Gippsland.