Push for health audit

Community group Voices of the Valley has organised a public meeting in a bid to push for a Valley-wide health audit in the wake of the Hazelwood mine fire.

The meeting, to be held tomorrow, was instigated after the group was told some people were allegedly still falling sick and blaming harmful toxins caused by the fire.

“We want a health assessment done, a health audit, Voices of the Valley secretary Julie Brown said.

“We want the government to make it easier for us to find out what’s wrong with us because we’re still having reports from people that come to us asking for help because they’re still having clogged noses and seizures and vomiting, and asthma.”

In addition to a health assessment, Ms Brown said the government should also provide health providers with a list of toxins that Valley residents may have been exposed to during the month-long fire for guidance.

“I myself took my son and his blood test showed heavy metals and stuff like that and the doctor didn’t even know what metals to test for,” she said.

They’ve (doctors) obviously had absolutely no advice from the Department of Health about what they should really be looking at.”

Ms Brown said while a 10-year study of the mine fire’s health effect was necessary, something should be done to help people who were currently getting sick because of smoke exposure.

“I think a long-term health study should be done so they do know what happens to people long-term from smoke exposure, but they can’t use that as an excuse to not act on what’s happening to us now,” she said.

According to Ms Brown, people who are currently feeling the health effects of the fire have no options but to see their GP, but they do not have the money to have themselves tested for toxins.

“That’s sort of not getting anywhere,” she said.

“These types of tests are not bulk billed. You get billed for these things and some people just do not have the kind of money.

“A 10-year health study is necessary but so is our health now.

“Our immediate health is just as concerning as a long-term health study.”

The public meeting will be held on Friday from 1pm at 20 Hazelwood Road, Morwell.