Position paper: Rural health policy in a changing climate three key issues

28 January 2021

Globally and nationally, there is growing recognition of the critical need for action on climate change. From international organisations such as the United Nations and Australian research bodies such as the CSIRO, the evidence is clear on the science of climate change and there are calls for that evidence to inform government action. It is also clear from the science that the need for action is becoming more urgent.

The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) views climate change as a significant and enduring threat to health, and considers that the adverse health risks are greater in rural and remote communities.1 In its Position Statement: Climate change and rural health, released in 2019, the Alliance called on Australian governments to urgently escalate the adoption of adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change driven by human activity.1 The Alliance has also urged the need for consideration of the health impacts of climate change in the development of a National Preventive Health Strategy.2 This paper considers some of the specific threats to health posed by climate change, and possible health and policy measures for rural and remote areas in light of these risks. The paper focuses on three areas of particular relevance for rural and remote Australia:

  • extreme weather events
  • food security
  • vector-borne disease.