BLOG: A view from Tasmania

There has been a growing if not vague and disconnected awareness here of the presence of toxins in the environment but nothing either informative or educational forthcoming from key authorities like public health.

In my daily to-ing and fro-ing around medical sites, community centres and chemist shops I see in detail the vast range of health care and risk avoidance topics selected for public education – smoking, bike riders use of helmets, falls avoidance, balanced diet, alcohol and smoking risks to baby during pregnancy, recognition of stroke onset symptoms, promotion of cancer screening tests, eye care, relaxation therapies, ADHD in children, epilepsy management, diabetes, a noticeable increase in aged care and mental health categories plus numerous government and non -government sources of help for different addictions and conditions.

Most are attractive, and well designed using easy to understand text and graphics – in short, inviting to one and all. Lots of duplication as you’d expect in the competitive world of health care and no doubt each publication uses up a fair chunk of annual budgets across the public health sector.

As we all know many standard and current Public Health messages are reinforced in other media from advertisements to documentaries. Apart from rarely reported incidences like toxic leakage from old mine sites affecting lead and mercury levels in a few very small settlements ( under 100 people) reports of which are one-day headlines, I truly think that given the fact of there being no authorized and coordinated public education program on environmental factors affecting health, it’s pretty amazing that there seems to be some level of general but unfocussed awareness of at least some environmental health risks in Tasmania. Until dots are joined up linking wild and aquatic life diseases, soil contamination from past manufacturing, overuse of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides etc to human health outcomes, it will remain so.

Known for green actions to save forests, whales, endangered wildlife species, coastal sites, and for increasing our numbers of national parks and world heritage sites, Tasmania is now a top tourist destination. Yet aside from some attention to health risks associated with fracking exploits, not one of these action organisations has included human life in its remit since they first fired up to save a wild river in 70s. One had a go in recent times but has since retired exhausted by the struggle.

It is quite odd to be living in such a naturally beautiful part of the world knowing it’s also an extremely toxic place from both past and present practices, and from where our now major industries of tourism and gambling lead to nought but smug complacency and bland denial of anything nasty in our ‘pristine environment’ among the too many grey suits running the show. Tasmania is also the poorest state with the highest levels of unemployment & illiteracy and numbers of people affected by chronic diseases.

I haven’t seen or heard of any health concerns from workers but that’s not to say they don’t exist since we are also handicapped by Murdoch controlled media in such matters.

Still, I live in hope!

Diana Ward
February 2016