The event was sponsored by the Australian Healthcare and
Hospitals Association and the Climate and Health Alliance, a national coalition of health
groups and focused on the role of the health sector in the climate change
debate, highlighting the capacity for the nursing and midwifery professions to influence
environmental sustainability and health outcomes for the community.
Climate change is particularly relevant to health professionals as
experts report if unchecked, climate change will result in increased incidences
of infectious diseases and illnesses such as respiratory illnesses, as well as
injuries and mental health consequences resulting from the impact of severe
weather events such as bushfires and floods.
Victoria is still witnessing these problems after the devastating
effects of the 2009 bushfires.
It follows that if efforts are not made to reduce carbon pollution
then health professionals, including nurses and midwives, and other health service
providers risk exposure to escalating costs and demand and a reduction in the resources
needed to manage the increasing health requirements for the Victorian community.
The ANF encourages our membership to be fully informed about the facts
relating to carbon pricing and the climate change debate. Unfortunately,
Victorian Health Minister David Davis created confusion and misinformation recently
when he authorized a leaflet for distribution across Melbourne's eastern
suburbs in July. The leaflet stated the carbon tax will hurt patients and generate a $13 million tax bill for
The facts are that healthcare services and hospitals are not
directly affected by the carbon price as they are not amongst the 500 biggest
polluters in Australia. Whilst there may be a flow on cost from energy
providers, modelling of the sector and new hospital funding arrangements
designed to offset such costs will result in minimal impact.
The Low Carbon Australia website reports
that the health sector is responsible for 7 per cent of total carbon emissions
so this sector has the capacity to reduce the ‘carbon footprint' and develop
greater efficiencies including savings in energy consumption and improved waste
Many public sector health services are in the process or have
already created environmental sustainability departments and developed
important and exciting initiatives in environmental management systems including
improvements to waste management systems, purchasing protocols around
sustainability and energy and water saving policies.
Healthcare facilities and nurses and midwives have an important contribution
to make in these and other workplace initiatives and the opportunity to be at
the forefront of shifting attitudes on our environmental responsibility.
Climate change is a health issue and the ANF encourages members to
join the debate and get involved in or initiate workplace activities.
Read more about the Climate Commission report into climate change
Read more about the Australian healthcare services and the climate change
Read about the impact of the introduction of Carbon pricing on health care
 The Climate Commission in its November 2011
document The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health http://climatecommission.gov.au/report/the-critical-decade-climate-change-and-health/
 Greg Combet, ‘Hospitals face small cost increases as a result of carbon
tax', Herald Sun, 8 March 2012.
 Simon Benson, ‘Carbon tax costs
covered by the federal government', The Daily Telegraph, 12 June 2012.