Researchers from Griffith University will have a key role in a new national research network known as Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL).

The network will comprise 100 researchers tasked with creating a national risk assessment of current and future health burdens driven by environmental change in Australia.

Professor Cordia Chu AM, Director of Griffith’s Centre for Environment and Population Health (CEPH), said the University was proud of its involvement in the new $10 million national research partnership, which was launched by Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP and brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, sustainable development, environmental epidemiology, and data science and communication to address climate change and its impacts on health.

Centre for Environment and Population Health Director Professor Cordia Chu

“This important and urgently needed national network will bring researchers and the community together to co-develop innovative solutions to protect the health of Australians from environmental and climate change, and to build a resilient and responsive health system,” she said.

“HEAL proposes to catalyse transformative action through inter-disciplinary research, capacity and capability strengthening, cross-sectoral engagement, and effective research translation and communication.

“The scale and genuine collaboration by so many people in the network is unprecedented. The world will be watching how we develop this partnership to deal with what presents as the world’s greatest challenge.”

“HEAL’s aim is to strengthen the Australian community and health system’s resilience, preparedness and responsiveness to changing environmental conditions and extreme weather events.

“The goals of the network align closely with Griffith’s principles and strategic priorities and offer the opportunity for involvement by our experts across a range of disciplines.

“Griffith will be able to bring into this network expertise from leading research groups, centres and networks like the CEPH, Smart Water Research Centre, Coastal and Marine Research Centre, Cities Research Institute, Centre for Sustainable Enterprise and Griffith Film School.

“Collaboratively across Griffith we will drive real-time surveillance, data integration, and risk assessment programs for the early-detection and rapid response to disease outbreaks, and adaptation plans to tackle urban health issues including overheating, air pollution, and climate-related disasters such as floods, heatwaves, One Heath approach to infectious diseases outbreak and biodiversity loss, and science communication to bring about the whole of society approach.

“I am most excited about the opportunity to break down disciplinary silos and integrate quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, while involving academics and decision-makers from around the country.”

HEAL will be funded over five years through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Special Initiative in Human Health and Environmental Change and operate across all Australian states and territories. It will be led by the Australian National University.

HEAL will also host its inaugural conference on 17 and 18 November 2021.

Four Griffith experts will speak on a research panel to be held on the second day of the conference, which focuses on regional concerns and priorities.

Professor Hamish McCallum, Dr Darrel Strauss, Noore Alam, and Elena Schak will speak to topics including One health, zoonotic disease and responses to Covid, as well as coastal management and using film as a tool for science communication.

17: Partnerships for the Goals
UN Sustainable Development Goals 17: Partnerships for the Goals

3: Good Health and Well-being
UN Sustainable Development Goals 3: Good Health and Well-being