Category Archives: Positions vacant

Adult Survey: Respiratory and Psychological Symptoms are lasting effects of the Hazelwood coal mine fire

New findings from the Hazelwood Health Study (HHS) Adult Survey suggest that people exposed to smoke during the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire were still experiencing psychological distress and respiratory symptoms two and a half years later, often regardless of whether their level of exposure had been low, medium, or high.   

This research aimed to assess whether adults who were heavily exposed to air pollution from the mine fire experienced poorer respiratory, cardiovascular, or psychological, health than adults who were less exposed.

“What we found is that, irrespective of whether their level of air pollution exposure was low, medium or high, participants who were exposed to the mine fire smoke were more likely to report most respiratory symptoms such as wheeze, night time and resting shortness of breath, chronic cough and phlegm, chest tightness and nasal symptoms, compared to participants who were not exposed. Increases were observed ranging from 15%, up to 110% for some symptoms” Principal Investigator Michael Abramson said.

“Reassuringly, we did not find any increase in the likelihood of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes or cancer related to exposure to the mine fire smoke.”

It was also found that any level of smoke exposure during the mine fire was related to experiencing greater psychological distress. Impacted participants reported symptoms including intrusive thoughts about the fire, avoidance behaviour such as trying not to think or talk about the fire and being more easily startled.

“While there was an increase in distress levels associated with exposure to the smoke, the average level of distress across the community was moderate, with some people reporting little or no impacts and others reporting higher impacts,” Psychological Impacts Stream Lead Dr Matthew Carroll said.

Researchers from the Monash University-led Hazelwood Health Study will distribute the results to healthcare providers in the Latrobe Valley and the wider Gippsland region to help inform public health policy.

For more information about the Hazelwood Health Study, visit hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au  

This research was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

To download the research summary, click here.

To download the full report, click here.

Call for Expressions of Interest – Community Advisory Committee

The Hazelwood Health Study has an active Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to ensure the study hears directly from and works in partnership with local residents and stakeholders in the Latrobe Valley and in Sale.

The meetings take place on a regular basis at the Monash University campus at Latrobe Regional Hospital. Committee membership includes up to six community members from the Latrobe Valley and up to four community members from Sale (the community chosen as the comparison group for the adult health assessments). These positions are non-representative and voluntary. In addition, the Committee includes organisational representatives from health and community service providers, local government and Federation University.

We are currently seeking expressions of interest from Latrobe Valley and Sale residents with an interest in the long-term health outcomes from the mine fire and the future wellbeing of the community.

We are keen to involve people from diverse backgrounds in the discussion, including people from different age groups, cultural backgrounds and those with and without prior experience in similar committees. The selection of the community members will be at the discretion of a selection committee to ensure a broad range of inputs into the committee including age and gender balance.

This call for expressions of interest will close on Friday 1 February 2019.

To download the application form, please click here.

For more information about the study, the committee, and the call for expressions of interest, please visit hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au or call Melissa Peppin on 5122 7102.

Call for new Community Advisory Committee members

Latrobe Valley and Sale community residents interested in the health outcomes of the Hazelwood mine fire are encouraged to apply for membership on the Hazelwood Health Study Community Advisory Committee.

Members have provided invaluable community insight in the first three years of the study and have worked together with residents and stakeholders to ensure issues of significance to the study are heard.

“By becoming a member of the committee, you have the opportunity to provide input into this world-first study and share its findings with the community,” Principal Co-Investigator Professor Judi Walker said.

“To ensure the team hears from as many people as possible, committee membership is for a fixed term and new committee members are now being sought.

“We are looking for a diverse range of people from many backgrounds to represent the Latrobe Valley and Sale communities on the committee.”

Expressions of interest are being sought from Latrobe Valley and Sale residents, the latter community having been selected as the comparison group for the adult health assessments. Committee positions are non-representative and voluntary.

Study membership includes up to six community members from the Latrobe Valley and up to four from Sale.

“The selection of the community members will be at the discretion of a selection committee to ensure equitable membership across the committee, including gender balance,” Professor Walker said.

This call for expressions of interest will close on Friday, 15 December 2017 with the first committee meeting of 2018 scheduled for the second week of February. Regular meetings are held during the year.

For more information about the call for expressions of interest, the committee or the Monash University-led Hazelwood Health Study, phone Dr Matthew Carroll on 5122 7604.