On 9 February 2014, embers from nearby bushfires sparked what was to become the largest and longest burning mine fire the Latrobe Valley has experienced. It burned for 45 days.
As a result of community leadership and action, this event has become a trigger for tackling the disadvantage and poor health and wellbeing outcomes faced by many in the Latrobe Valley.
The Victorian Government has now committed over $80 million to support the Latrobe Valley community through the whole-of-government implementation of the recommendations of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry Reports from both 2015 and 2015-16.
The Latrobe Valley has also been designated as a health innovation zone, the first of its kind in Australia.
To lay the foundations for this work, the Latrobe Health Taskforce has been established with representatives from across the local community, local business, health and community agencies including Latrobe City Council and Latrobe Community Health Service, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Gippsland Primary Health Network and the Department of Health and Human Services. The Taskforce is chaired by Professor John Catford who served on the Hazelwood Mine Fire Board of Inquiry and was involved in developing the recommendations supporting the future health of the Latrobe community.
One of the roles of the Taskforce is to establish the Latrobe Health Assembly that will bring government, the health sector, local business and the community together to develop local solutions to local issues. Professor Catford will become the inaugural chair of the Assembly, while a local Health Advocate will also be appointed to ensure a strong, trusted, local voice is always present.
More information will be available as this initiative develops, so watch this space.
In the meantime, more information on the comprehensive effort in Latrobe is available here
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