Sale chosen as mine fire comparison community

Sale has been announced as the comparison community for the health study into the long-term effects of the Hazelwood mine fire.

The study’s principal co-investigator, Professor Judi Walker said four major considerations guided the decision to select Sale – a rural location, lower exposure to smoke from the mine fire, a complementary socio-demographic composition, and a suitable size population.

“It really puts the focus on Gippsland as a region, in terms of a longer-term approach for health service planning,” Ms Walker said.

Wellington Shire Council’s manager of community wellbeing, Frances Ford said the health of the Sale community would form an important reference for the broader study.

The announcement came as Latrobe Valley residents gathered at Morwell’s Kernot Hall on Tuesday for community briefing sessions on the health study.

A series of cohort studies will be conducted looking at heart and lung disease, cancer, mental health issues, and the impact on infants, children and older people.

There will also be a large survey of adults living in Morwell at the time of the fire.

The study is led by Monash University, with assistance from Federation University, the University of Tasmania, the University of Adelaide and the CSIRO.

It has been commissioned by the Department of Health for an initial 10 years, with a government commitment to continue it for at least a further decade.