Morwell residents living closest to the Hazelwood mine will be targeted this week as part of the Hazelwood Health Study’s adult survey.
As the study rolls out across the town 1188 invitation packs will be sent to all eligible adults on the south side of Morwell from today.
The health study research team, led by Monash University, has urged all residents, regardless of whether they think they were impacted by the 2014 smoke event or not, to participate in the study.
Professor Judi Walker, principal co-investigator of the study, said while the process of rolling out the adult survey was still in its early stages, so far only one in five residents in the first Morwell area targeted by the study had completed the survey.
“We are calling on all eligible Morwell adults to support our efforts in this community-driven initiative,” Professor Walker said.
Recently-elected chair of the Hazelwood Health Study’s Community Advisory Committee, Tracie Lund, said the State Government had commissioned the study in response to community concerns about the long-term health effects of the mine fire, so it was critical the community now take the opportunity to participate.
“This fire covered Morwell in smoke and ash for six weeks,” Ms Lund said.
“In order to really understand the effects of this on people’s health, the study’s research team need as many people as possible to support the adult survey, including those who think they were not affected.”
Professor Michael Abramson, who leads the health research team, said researchers wanted all eligible Morwell adults to understand the importance of their input.
“We are finding when we phone residents asking them to complete the adult survey, some are opting not to take part because they believe they were not impacted,” he said.
“In fact, it is critical that we have their participation as this allows us to measure the true impact of the event and determine which factors protected some members of the community while others remained vulnerable.
“If only people who think they were affected participate, we may over-estimate the true impact of the smoke and ash.”
So far 2652 residents in Morwell have received invitation packs for the adult survey and many of those have already received phone calls from researchers asking them to complete the survey – expected to take about 30 minutes – either online or over the phone.
Those who complete the survey will receive a $20 gift voucher redeemable at about 85 local businesses.
For more information on the adult survey phone 1800 985 899 (toll free) or go to hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au