Annual Community Briefings

2019 Community Engagement Session

The 2019 annual Community Engagement Session took place on 11 June 2019 at the Morwell Bowling Club. Forty-two people attended the Session which was facilitated by Professor John Catford, Chair, Latrobe Health Assembly. Jane Anderson, the Latrobe Health Advocate, took part and provided concluding comments. A powerpoint presentation  was used to guide the session. The Principal Investigators set the scene, reporting progress to date and providing examples of emerging outcomes from the study. There were five Roundtables and community participants all spent 15 minutes in conversation with researchers at three tables of their choice. Researchers outlined their proposed research activities for Years 6 – 10.

Key feedback from the community through Roundtable Conversations included:

Child Development

  1. There was concern expressed about the adverse findings to date in very young children and a clear message that the health outcomes findings should be tracked over a prolonged period of time to see if there are long term implications for the health and wellbeing of the children.
  2. There was support for the proposed allergy testing and interest in more detailed examination of immune function.

Psychological Impacts

  1. General positivity about the operations of the study and the emerging findings.
  2. Interest in how the mine fire effect was isolated from other factors, including lifestyle factors and broader societal influences like the closure of the Hazelwood power station.

Heart and Lung Health

  1. Acceptance of the findings to date for the respiratory and cardiovascular streams and the proposed 5-year plan.
  2. Acknowledgement of the importance of ongoing evaluation of outcomes via data linkage.

Health Service Use

  1. There was particular interest in mortality data - a few theories on people with pre-existing conditions and how the fire may have hastened their death. There was also mention of middle-aged men and risk taking during the fire leading to injury (e.g. falling off ladders).

Community Wellbeing and Older People

  1. General support to continue to measure the community’s well-being and any changes over time.

Comments from the Health Advocate

The Health Advocate acknowledged the lively conversations and the desire and willingness of members of the community and the researchers to engage in the conversations.

What the Health Advocate heard:

  • Support for the study’s methodology going forward.\
  • The desire for the findings to have an impact.
  • The importance of the community understanding the impact of the study’s findings – what have we learned?
  • In particular, what impact is the study having on health services?
  • The need to use the learnings to improve the future well-being of the community.

2018 Community Engagement Session

The Hazelwood Health Study hosted a Community Engagement Session on the 22 August 2018, at the Morwell RSL Club. This year’s event was attended by over 70 people, making it our largest community engagement session to date.

The purpose of the session was to foster a two-way communication channel between researchers and community members. During the engagement session Hazelwood Health Study researchers reported findings, and responded to questions and suggestions from community members about the study.

The event commenced with a brief explanation of the intersections between the study and local health initiatives, including the Latrobe Health Assembly and the Latrobe Health Advocate within the broader Latrobe Health Innovation Zone. To set the scene, Gerard Callinan, a former ABC Gippsland presenter, interviewed principal investigators Michael Abramson and Judi Walker.

Community members had the opportunity to join roundtable discussions with our lead researchers from the Early Life follow up, Community Wellbeing, Hazelinks, Adult Survey and Psychological Impacts streams. In addition, this year a roundtable was set up for community members to ask key stakeholders, which included Deputy Commissioner Tony Murphy (Emergency Management Victoria), Bronwyn Green (Environment Protection Authority Victoria), Ian Needham (Latrobe Health Authority), and Jane Anderson (Latrobe Health Advocate), their questions.

2017 Community Engagement Session

Two Hazelwood Health Study community briefings, now known as Community Engagement Sessions, were held in Gippsland in early October. The purpose of the engagement sessions was to provide community members with a study update, including the latest round of results, how these results can be used to help the community and future research. Attendees were also encouraged to engage with the researchers.

The first session was held in Morwell on Monday 9 October at the Morwell Bowling Club. The session included an interview with study principal investigators Michael Abramson and Judi Walker. The interview, led by moderator and former ABC Gippsland presenter Gerard Callinan, focused on the operations of the study, the results to date and how it would work with the community. The interview was also open to questions from attendees.

Following the interview, the session broke out into several roundtable discussions focusing on the study’s research streams. Attendees participated in four roundtable rotations led by research stream leads. Researchers provided participants with an update of their research stream and answered questions from attendees. About 40 people attended the Morwell session.

The second session was held in Sale on Tuesday 10 October at the Bond Street Event Centre.This session differed from the one held in Morwell – it focused on content relevant to Sale participants and no roundtable discussions were included. An interview took place between Gerard Callinan, Judi Walker and Community Advisory Committee Sale representative, Ruth Churchill. Their conversation focused on the importance of including Sale community members in the study.

Following the interview, there were two presentations about the Adult Survey and recent cancer results, and the clinical testing about to get underway in Sale. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions during the presentations. About 20 people attended the Sale session.

A copy of the Hazelwood Health Study Research Streams Overview document, made available at both sessions, can be viewed here.

2016 Annual Community Briefing

A Community Briefing was held in Morwell on 29 November 2016 at the Morwell Bowling Club. See below for a copy of the slides that were presented:

2015 Annual Community Briefing

A Community Briefing was held in Morwell on 11 August 2015 where the Hazelwood Health Study was presented to the Community.  See below for a copy of the slides that were presented:

A further briefing was held in Sale on 20 August where study team members gave an overview of the study, highlighting the Adult Survey component which will include Sale. A copy of the slides is available here. The study team is committed to providing regular updates to the community as the study progresses. Details of upcoming briefings will be provided here in due course.