Shaun Mallia to join the Hazelwood Health Study as Communications and Engagement Adviser

We are delighted to welcome Shaun Mallia to the Hazelwood Health Study (HHS) research team.

Shaun will be the study’s Communications and Engagement Adviser and takes up the appointment on Monday 1 May.

In Year 3, the HHS needs to increase engagement with the community and to re-profile the study to better align with the new environment in Latrobe City and the needs of the community. This new position will build on the work of the HHS Gippsland team, especially the work of the Adult Survey Recruitment Coordinator, and will work closely with appropriate people involved in the new Latrobe Health Assembly and the Health Innovation Zone. The position will have responsibility for both the study’s Community Advisory Committee and the Clinical Reference Group, and will be required to coordinate the study’s communications including media releases, the website and social media.

Shaun was the editor of the Latrobe Valley Express newspaper for three years where he oversaw the newspaper’s award winning coverage of the Hazelwood Mine Fire and subsequent Hazelwood Mine Fire inquiries. He has more than 10 years’ experience in media and communications having worked for publications including the Gippsland Farmer and the Moe and Narracan News. He has also completed some media consultancy work for Monash School of Rural Health.

Shaun has lived in Morwell his entire life, 34 years, and has participated in a number of community groups in the past decade. He is currently a member of the Latrobe Health Assembly and is a strong advocate of the region. When not advocating for the Latrobe Valley, Shaun can be found running the many Gippsland trails in preparation for his next marathon.

Shaun will be located on a temporary basis at School of Rural Health, Churchill (Federation Uni Gippsland campus) with Prof Judi Walker and Dr Matthew Carroll while office space is being sourced in Morwell.

Shaun Mallia to join the Hazelwood Health Study as Communications and Engagement Adviser

Invitation to participate in group discussions for older people and their families and carers

Researchers from the Hazelwood Health Study are interested in talking with older Latrobe Valley residents and with their family members and carers about their experiences during and following the mine fire last year.

They are keen to hold a series of group discussions involving up to 15 people in each session to hear their views on the impact of the smoke event on older people, focusing particularly on the policy decisions made with respect to older people during the event as well as how older people coped during the smoke event.

The group discussions with older people and with their families and carers will take place at two community locations – the Rose Garden room at the Morwell Senior Citizens Centre and the Morwell Neighbourhood House. The following sessions have been arranged:

Sessions at Morwell Senior Citizens (2-4 Maryvale Crescent):
Older people – Friday 18 September 1-3pm
Family members and carers – Friday 18 September 10am-12 noon

Sessions at Morwell Neighbourhood House (48-50 Beattie Crescent):
Older people – Wednesday 30 September 5-7pm
Family members and carers – Tuesday 6 October 5-7pm

Each focus group will take between 60 and 90 minutes.

See here for a copy of the flyer for the Focus Groups – Older People Stream.

If you have any questions, would like more information or want to participate please contact:
Dr Matthew Carroll on Ph: 5122 7604 or [email protected]

As places are limited we will send a response to confirm your place in a focus group or to advise you that the focus group is full.

Come and chat to a study team member at the Morwell 50 Mile Farmer’s Market on 14 May from 8am

Study team members will again be available to chat with local residents about the progress of the study.

We will have a stall at the 50 Mile Farmer’s Market in Tarwin Street Morwell which is taking place from 8am on 14 May. The markets are a great chance to enjoy the local produce and mingle with local community members so will be the perfect place for us to have a stall and answer your questions about the study.

More information about the market is available here.  

We will be easy to spot with our study logo on display and wearing our study t-shirts. We look forward to seeing you there.

Come and chat to a study team member in Sale at the Sunday Charity Variety Market on 15 May from 7am

Central to the Adult Survey component of the study will be the comparison between two local communities – Morwell which was most exposed to the smoke and Sale which was minimally exposed.

The study is keen to engage with the Sale community so study team members will be on hand at the Sunday Charity Variety Market in Canal Rd Sale from 7am on Sunday 15 May.

This will provide an opportunity for community members to chat with us about the progress of the study and the scope of the activities including how the Sale community can be involved in the study and help us to understand the range and spread of any impacts from the mine fire.

Residents interested in chatting with us are encouraged to come along to this event or to future ones which we will advertise on this Events page. We will be easy to spot with our study logo on display and wearing our study t-shirts.

We look forward to seeing you in Sale on the 15th.

Invitation to participate in a focus group for people in Moe and Traralgon for Community Wellbeing Stream

Invitation to participant in a focus group for people in Moe and Traralgon

As part of the Hazelwood Health Study: Community Wellbeing we want to gather community perceptions of the fire and smoke event’s impact on community wellbeing, the effectiveness of community rebuilding activities and the elements needed for effective communication during and after an event such as the mine fire.

Focus groups and interviews are already taking place in Morwell and the study is now keen to get a wide range of perspectives from people in Moe and Traralgon about the impact of the smoke event and the elements that are important for effective communication during and after such an event.

We are holding focus groups in:

Moe: Tuesday 25 August (10am to 12pm)

       Moe Library (30 Kirk St, Moe)

and

Traralgon: Thursday 27 August (10am to 12pm)

Traralgon Neighbourhood House (11-13 Breed St, Traralgon)

Each focus group will take between 60 and 90 minutes.

Places are limited.

Please contact us by Friday 21 August if you wish to attend one of these focus groups.

As places are limited we will send a response to confirm your place in a focus group or to advise you the focus group is full.

If you have any questions, would like more information or want to participate please contact:

Sue Whyte on Ph: 5122 8508 or [email protected]

Associate Professor Pamela Wood on Ph: 5122 6670 or p[email protected]

 

See here for a copy of the flyer Focus Group Community Wellbeing Stream

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.