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Energy, Government Federal

Today: Health workers call on Bowen to Save Lives with Solar

Healthy Futures 2 mins read
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Health professionals will gather today at 11am outside Parliament House in Canberra to deliver an open letter signed by 25 organisations representing over 50,000 health professionals, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and the Australasian College of Sports and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP), calling for funding commitments for rooftop solar on social housing to protect vulnerable people from the health impacts of extreme heat and climate change.

Led by Healthy Futures, the letter warns that heat-related illnesses kill thousands of Australians every year. 

The letter requests that the Federal government commit to installing rooftop solar on at least 30% of Australian social housing, to be completed by the end of 2026, provide access to affordable renewable electricity where rooftop solar is impractical and install reverse cycle air conditioning and implement other energy efficient retrofits to achieve safe temperatures in all social housing. 

The full letter is viewable at www.healthyfutures.net.au/solar

Associate Professor Rowena Ivers, representing the RACGP, said: “As GPs, we know that increasing extremes of heat can have an impact on the health of the community – especially on the very young, and the very old. In primary care, we need to help our patients plan for heatwaves, which might include discussing staying cool, using air conditioning, or including this in chronic disease management plans, but we also need to advocate for broader interventions that can reduce climate change.”

“Extreme heat can trigger heart attacks, kidney failure, strokes and even death,” said Ursula Alquier, Healthy Futures Campaigner. “We want to see a commitment to ensure people living in social housing are able to live in safe and healthy homes”

“As healthcare workers, we are concerned about the health of our patients and our climate. People in social housing need energy-efficient homes with cheap renewable-powered air conditioning to protect their health” said Dr Harry Jennens, general practitioner and Healthy Futures Co-ordinator.


Action details:

  • Where: Parliament steps, Canberra
  • When: Tuesday March 26, at 11:00 - 11.30am

What: Healthcare workers gather outside Parliament to send the Federal government a strong message that heat and climate change are harmful to health, and people need protection now

Visuals: Will be available on the day

 

Key facts:

  • Heat-related illnesses kill thousands of Australians every year (1) by increasing heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and other health impacts.
  • Roughly one-third of heat-related deaths in Australia are attributable to climate change (2,3).
  • Many social housing dwellings are poor quality and prone to temperature extremes (3-5).
  • A 2023 survey of people on low incomes by the Australian Council of Social Services found that 94.5% avoided using air conditioning because it is too expensive (6).

Open Letter to the Hon Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Climate Change & Energy: www.healthyfutures.net.au/solar

 

Images and video will be available on the day

 

Available for interview:

  • Associate Professor Rowena Ivers, general practitioner and public health physician on the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) NSWACT Faculty Council
  • Ursula Alquier, Healthy Futures Campaigner
  • Dr Bronwyn McDonald, Healthy Futures Campaigner

 

Media enquiries

  • Bronwyn McDonald: 0408 477 403
  • Ursula Alquier: 0474 803 740

 

References:

 

[1] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(21)00081-4/fulltext

 

[2]https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/climate-change-blamed-for-more-than-a-third-of-heat-related-deaths-20210531-p57wpy.html

 

[3]  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01058-x

 

[4] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378778822005205?via%3Dihub

[5]https://www.malleefamilycare.org.au/MFCSite/media/PDFDocuments/PublicHousing/2019/MalleeFamilyCare_PublicHousing_Report_2019.pdf

[6] https://www.shelterwa.org.au/stuck-in-the-heat/

[7]https://www.acoss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Heat-Survey-Report_20230228.pdf


Contact details:

Bronwyn McDonald: 0408 477 403

Ursula Alquier: 0474 803 740

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