Second area for health study

A SECOND area of Sale will be targeted this week as part of the large-scale Hazelwood Health Study, and local community leaders are urging eligible adults to participate in the study's Adult Survey.

Although the survey asks participants about the long-term health effects of the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire, the input of Sale residents is critical to the study's success.

Principal co-investigator of the Monash University-led health study, Professor Judi Walker, said that Sale had been selected as a comparison town because it was minimally exposed to the fire.

Dr Iain Nicholson completes the Adult Survey online.

Dr Iain Nicholson completes the Adult Survey online.

"Sale is comparable to Morwell in size, rural location and age of residents and the survey participation of people who were not affected by the mine fire smoke is equally as important as people who were affected," Professor Walker said.

"It is essential to allow us to measure the true extent and impact of the event."

In the past month 538 information flyers and information packs about the Adult Survey have been sent to households in the first of five targeted Sale areas.

Many residents in this area have already been phoned by researchers asking them to complete the survey - expected to take around 30 minutes - over the phone or online.

However, so far only 38 people have participated.

From this week a further 762 residents in an area to the north of Raglan St and west of McCole St will be targeted.

Professor Walker said those who chose to participate would be compensated for their time with a $20 Shop in Sale e-voucher, redeemable at a wide range of local businesses.

"If enough residents support this survey it also has the potential to provide Sale businesses with an economic boost," she added.

Long-serving Sale GP Dr Iain Nicolson, who is one of two Sale community members on the study's Community Advisory Committee, has completed the Adult Survey.

He urged all other eligible Sale adults who are invited to participate, to support the study.

"The research team are relying on the goodwill of Sale residents to help them properly evaluate the effect this smoke event had on people's health," Dr Nicolson said.

"Although comprehensive, the questionnaire is not too difficult to complete and the health data collected will be used to inform and improve health and emergency policy, planning and delivery rights across Gippsland, so we all stand to benefit."

Central Gippsland Health Service CAC organisational representative Ruth Churchill, has also completed the survey.

"It was quite an easy process and I can recommend the online version to others with access to a computer," she said.

Ms Churchill encouraged Sale residents to show their support for the community-driven study, which was commissioned by the Victorian Government in response to community concerns.

"Our participation has the potential to provide critical evidence to governments for future health planning for the region," she said.

For more information on the Adult Survey phone 1800 985 899 (toll free) or go to http://hazelwoodhealthstudy.org.au/research-areas/adult-survey/adult-survey-faqs/

Gippsland Senior
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