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Urban Myths

Air Quality

After the four years needed to complete one of Australia’s most comprehensive air quality studies, the Clean and Healthy Air for Gladstone (CHAG) project team has delivered their final report. There are two key outcomes from this capstone report.

Firstly based on their rigorous assessment and more than 20 public contributing reports, the CHAG team was able to draw unequivocal conclusions about the quality of Gladstone’s air.

This assessment was based upon looking for over 160 contaminants of concern. This list was only agreed with CHAG’s Community Reference Group after several rounds of discussions in which the number of contaminants to be investigated was significantly increased. The project team then used extremely sensitive equipment to find out the levels at which these contaminants were present.

Many of these contaminants were at such low levels that they could not be detected, even with best equipment and techniques available. Where contaminants were detected, the majority were at levels much less than international health based standards. The only time these health based standards were exceeded was during natural events such as fires or dust storms and then only for a short time.

As a result of this and several independent peer reviews, Gladstone’s air has been given a clean bill of health.

The second equally important outcome of final CHAG report is that it includes a roadmap of how the Queensland Government intends to keep Gladstone’s air healthy. While industries were found to operate at acceptable air quality levels, the final CHAG report makes 20 wide ranging recommendations and specifies how they will be implemented.

In summary the final CHAG report recommends the review and tightening of the licence conditions that Gladstone industries have to operate within. For Gladstone Industry Leadership Group (GILG) members, this broadly includes reductions in allowable emissions, stricter reporting requirements, conditions on their maintenance and operation of plant and equipment, improvements to their incident response plans and ongoing air quality monitoring.

While independent of this report GILG’s members have begun to implement some of these improvements, the solutions needed for the report’s remaining recommendations are still being sought and assessed.

GILG agree with a comment from Queensland’s Minister for the Environment that the people of Gladstone rightly expect to live in a healthy environment. It is only through continued vigilance from the community, government and industry that we can ensure that this remains the case and it is also seen to be so.

If you’d like to read the final CHAG report, the report is available at here.

To read more about extensive air monitoring in Gladstone please go to http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/gladstone/

Gladstone has the most comprehensive air monitoring programme of any area in Australia. To see the latest results, please go to http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/air/data/search.php to see the latest near real time air quality of Gladstone, Brisbane, South East Queensland, Mt Isa, Mackay, Ayr and Townsville.

Updated December 2014.

What about water quality in Gladstone's harbour?

The water quality and fish health of Gladstone’s Harbour Port Curtis have been in the news recently. To read about these concerns, what is being done about these them including the wide range of monitoring that has been completed and see the reports that have been released, please go to http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/gladstone/

Updated December 2014.

Health Services

There is not doubt that, like elsewhere in Australia, in Gladstone the delivery of health services is a key community concern.

Members of the Gladstone Industry Leadership Group (www.gilg.com.au) know that perceptions about Gladstone’s health services are key to decisions made by families whether they relocate to Gladstone and, once here, stay.

Thus the attraction and retention of industry workers to Gladstone is one reason why I am one of 12 representatives of the Gladstone community and health providers who make up Rio Tinto Alcan’s Gladstone Health Partnership initiative.

From my experience, delivery of health services is an emotionally charged issue for Gladstone residents. We need ready access to primary health care services such as General Practitioners to help prevent us from becoming sick and help us if we are. We also need to know that quality hospital services available are available when we need them.  Meeting these needs is critical for our peace of mind and is even more important if a member of our family or a friend is unwell.

We rightly have very high expectations about the quality of our health services and, as the average age of our population increases, our challenge as a nation is how we fund health services.

The increased specialisation and technological dependence of health services makes it costly and complex to deliver. On average each year in Australia about $5,500 per person or about 9.4% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product is spent on health services. Australia’s myriad of health funding sources makes this complexity even worse.

This range of funding sources inevitably leads to questions of who pays for what and how these funds are allocated. It is the thankless task of bureaucrats in Brisbane and Canberra who wrestle with these questions and needless to say their decisions rarely please everyone.

The reality is that as a community we have limited ability to influence these high level funding decisions. However, we can influence the efficiency with which Gladstone’s health dollars are spent.

Gladstone’s health providers can work together to better integrate delivery of our health services, share resources and provide better continuity of patient care.

As a community we can improve the quality of our health services by increasing the stability of our health workforce. We can help do this by making Gladstone a sought after location for permanent health professionals by welcoming them to Gladstone and supporting them and our clinical leaders.

These are just some of the areas in which the Gladstone Health Partnership initiative has begun to make a difference to the delivery of Gladstone’s health services.

Updated December 2014.

What about all the industry in Gladstone?

For general information about how Gladstone industry works to minimise their negative impacts on the Gladstone community and enhance their benefits, please go to gilg.com.au