Monash teams with community struck by Hazelwood fires
Three community members from towns affected by a mine fire in the Latrobe Valley in 2014 have joined forces with researchers monitoring the long-term health impacts of the blaze.
The researchers, led by Monash, will work closely with a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to ensure the voices of local residents are heard throughout the investigation. The CAC comprises of Tracie Lund, coordinator of Morwell Neighbourhood House, local teacher and father Andrew Wood, and community science educator Carolyne Boothman.
They were appointed to the CAC after responding to a public call for expressions of interest, and were selected as individuals and not on the basis of representing particular community groups.
Professor Judi Walker, Gippsland lead on the study, said the study lead investigators had the difficult task of selecting committee members on the basis of experience, connection to the community, and ensuring reasonable gender and age balance in the CAC overall.
The CAC also has representatives from health and community service providers, and local government nominated by their boards.
Professor Walker said the purpose of the committee was to ensure the study heard from, and worked in partnership, with the community and key local stakeholder organisations.
“The first meeting of the committee was held at the end of February, and provided an introductory overview of the study plans,” Professor Walker said.
“It was great to get this first meeting underway but the real conversations with the community start now. It is important that the study remains rooted in the concerns of the local community and closely connected to the local health and service agencies that support our community.”
Local residents will have plenty of opportunities to hear about the study with a rolling series of meetings with key groups in the area underway and a community briefing planned. The study team welcomes invitations to come and address community groups and organisations that wish to know more.
The study has been funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to identify the long-term health outcomes of the Hazelwood Mine Fire and ultimately to improve local services and health outcomes.
Specific questions or comments about the study, or groups keen to hear from the research team, should contact the study office on 5122 7252 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the study and upcoming activities can also be found at http://www.med.monash.edu.au/hazelwood/