Monash Public Health to conduct long-term study of the health of Morwell residents

6 November 2014

Monash University has been contracted by the Victorian Department of Health to undertake a comprehensive study of the long-term health of Morwell residents following exposure to the smoke from the Hazelwood coal mine fire.
On Feb. 9 this year the Hazelwood open-cut brown coal mine in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, caught fire resulting in the nearby town of Morwell being covered in plumes of smoke and ash over a period of six weeks.

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The study will pay particular attention to susceptible sub-groups, such as pregnant women, infants and children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing lung and heart disease.
Lead researcher Professor Michael Abramson, from the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said there are no published health studies done specifically in relation to exposure to smoke from fires in open cut brown coal mines.
“The study will provide information on the potential health effects including respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, cancer, causes of death, child development and psychological outcomes as well as broader community health outcomes. It will also provide evidence on which to base health advice in future events,” Professor Abramson said.
The study will bring together researchers from across Monash University, Federation University, the University of Tasmania, CSIRO and the University of Adelaide. An important feature of the study will be the strong local base, with the Monash School of Rural Health, which has several sites in the region, playing a lead role. This local connection will be reinforced through collaboration with researchers from the Federation University Gippsland campus.
The project will involve the development of an advisory committee with representation from local community members as well as close connections with local health professionals to ensure the study outcomes are communicated locally and taken up into policy and practice.
Head of the Monash School of Rural Health Professor Judi Walker said, “This study is focused on the health impacts on the local community and while funded for an initial 10 year period, is expected to continue for twenty years or more to enable the detection of longer-term outcomes. Such a major undertaking can only be done in close collaboration with the community.”

Monash University Public Health School

With diverse leadership, across four campuses, the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine is the faculty’s principal source of skills in epidemiology (including clinical epidemiology), biostatistics and large scale clinical data-management.  The school emphasizes expertise in large epidemiological studies, multicentre clinical trials, clinical registries, evidence synthesis and health social science. Continued collaborative work with the major Monash-affiliated hospitals, research institutes and public health units within Victoria, ensures the school provides a key resource underpinning translational research within the faculty.
The Master of Public Health a 12-unit public health program provides students with the full range of quantitative, analytical and communication skills necessary to work in the broad domain of public health. It especially focuses on developing skills in the quantitative methods of the population-based health sciences and their problem-solving application for primary care provision both in Australia and for developing countries.
Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: February
Duration: 1.5 years
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline, applicants are strongly encouraged by Monash University to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.
Entry Requirements: Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree. With an application, students should also submit a 250-word statement of purpose outlining their area of interest and the reason why they would like to complete the course, and an updated curriculum vitae/resume outlining relevant work experience.

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For more information about studying at the Monash University School of Public Health, contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at or call 1-866-698-7355.