Opportunities for health services to deliver and support climate change adaptation action

February 22, 2022

The VHA welcomes the recent release of the Department of Health and Department of Families, Fairness and Housing’s Health and Human Services Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026 (the Plan) which proposes strategic actions to address current climate change impacts, reduce barriers to adaptation planning, and lay the foundations for transformation adaption.

The plan is designed to be implemented by the Departments at a system level but provides opportunities for health services to deliver and support adaptation action.


Consultation with members

Last year, the VHA delivered a virtual consultation forum for members to support a submission to the draft plan. The forum and submission reflect feedback from across the membership, including hospitals, community health, emergency, dental, and small rural health services.

The submission outlines seven recommendations:

  1. The Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (CCAAP) should reflect the whole of Victoria’s public health service system.
  2. Implementation of the CCAAP should take a coordinated approach across the public health service system.
  3. The CCAAP should apply a strong rural and regional lens across all action areas.
  4. The CCAAP implementation should be supported by appropriate settings-specific resourcing, guidance, and tools.
  5. The CCAAP should be delivered alongside state-wide sector support focusing on building the capacity of public health service system.
  6. The Departments should provide clarification on the implementation of the CCAAP and expectations of health services.
  7. The CCAAP should leverage the strengths of the public health service system to embed climate change adaptation.


The plan

The plan proposes 14 strategic actions across three key focus areas: public and stakeholder engagement on climate resilience and health, infrastructure resilience, and sector capability.

Key highlights from the plan include:

  • ensuring coordination and consistency across and within the sector
  • collaboration with the sector to implement actions
  • alignment to existing reform process (for example, the Royal Commission into Mental Health)
  • a rural and regional lens across mental health
  • recognition of the public health service system asset base to include community health, hospitals, and emergency services
  • commitment to providing technical and supporting resources in climate resilience infrastructure planning
  • recognition of strengths of health services to support climate adaptation.


Next steps

On Tuesday 22 March (10-11am), the VHA is hosting a special event focusing on the role of gender equality in a climate-resilient health system.

Drawing on the United Nations’ International Women’s Day 2022 theme, Changing Climates, Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, our online panel discussion will feature:

  • Dr Sue Matthews, VHA Board Chair and CEO of the Royal Women’s Hospital
  • Dr Debra Parkinson, Manager, Gender and Disaster Australia
  • Fiona Armstrong, Founder and Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance
  • Dr Angie Bone, Deputy Chief Health Officer (Environment), Victorian Department of Health.

Click here for more information and to register.