Vic ECEC services called on to create healthier environments for learning
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Vic ECEC services called on to create healthier environments for learning

Vic ECEC services called on to create healthier environments for learning

by Freya Lucas

November 05, 2020

Victorian early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, schools and workplaces are being called upon to create healthier environments for learning, working and living as part of a free health and wellbeing program delivered by Cancer Council Victoria.


The Achievement Program has launched a climate and health initiative to empower Victorian ECEC services, schools and workplaces to take climate actions, bringing positive change for the health of the community and the planet. 


Climate change is being described by the World Health Organization as one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century, with health and safety being directly impacted by the increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events and indirectly through poorer air quality, changes in the spread of infectious diseases, risks to food safety and drinking water quality, and effects on mental health.


Tope Adepoyibi, Achievement Program Head at Cancer Council Victoria, believes this new initiative will provide workplaces and education settings with the knowledge and confidence they need to tackle climate change and its impacts on health.


“We already have more than 1,000 workplaces, 700 schools and 1,300 early childhood services on board, making healthy changes for key health areas such as healthy eating, physical activity, and mental health and wellbeing,” Ms Adepoyibi said.


“Our members can now integrate climate actions into their existing health and wellbeing initiatives such as increasing active travel, eating more plant-based foods, reducing waste, using less energy, connecting with nature and becoming more climate-ready to mitigate the climate risks and potential impacts,” she added.


The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), Australia’s peak body on climate and health issues, are supporting the new initiative, with a spokesperson saying that actions taken now will pay long term dividends. 


“By acting to curb global heating, we will not only save lives, but can also strengthen community health and wellbeing, as many of the solutions required to address climate change are also good for our health,” Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director at the Climate and Health Alliance, said.


According to the Victorian Government’s Climate-Ready Victoria report, Victoria is expected to become warmer and drier, with more hot days, heatwaves and harsher fire weather as well as less rainfall overall but more intense downpours and flooding.


Such events, Ms Adepoyibi believes, are already impacting workplace and education settings by putting more stress on the physical and mental health, and safety of adults and children.


“We’re committed to preventing the adverse health outcomes of climate change through providing education materials, boosting community knowledge and awareness and training local health professionals to help Victorian workplaces and education settings create healthier environments,” she said.  


The new initiative is being welcomed by workplaces and education settings right across the state, with many Victorians keen to play their part in improving the health of their community and the planet.


There is a desire within the Victorian community, Ms Adepoyibi said, for people to feel supported to implement healthy changes that matter; benefiting the health of themselves, the community and the planet.


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