With the 7th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium in Alice Springs postponed to May 2021 due to COVID-19, the National Rural Health Alliance launched a virtual pre-Symposium session on 25 May 2020.
Presentations are available online and the highlight of the event was a Q&A with the three keynote speakers – Professor Anthony Capon, Director, Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University; Professor Pierre Horwitz, Professor of Environmental Sciences, Edith Cowan University; and Dr Laura Weyrich, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University.
The theme of the session, facilitated by Professor John Wakerman, was ‘How humans and the environment interact’, and climate change and COVID-19 were among the hot topics.
Climate change and the changing environment is central to rural health. That’s why we at the Alliance recently launched a climate and health position statement and why we saw discussion at the virtual pre-Symposium session of topics like land degradation, vector-borne disease and biodiversity loss.
There was also discussion of the Australian Government’s push for a “gas-led recovery” out of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, and how we can change the conversation.
One key point that came up throughout the virtual pre-Symposium session was the question of what any of us can do to create more sustainable and healthy communities.
Some questions posed were about individual responsibility, either in the sense of what individuals can do to personally reduce carbon emissions or what as researchers they can or should do to better incorporate the overarching message of the presentations into their future projects.
The panel also discussed what rural health professionals can do to show leadership on climate change and environmental health.
You can read a wrap-up of the virtual pre-Symposium session here and (all being well) we hope to see you in Alice Springs for the face-to-face Symposium on 24-25 May 2021!