This summer made me more conscious then ever of many things related to good public health; the importance of security in water supply, the vulnerability of our air quality and impact of increasingly frequent temperature extremes.
Watching the bushfire catastrophe that engulfed many parts of Australia over these past few months, another element important to public health became obvious – the extraordinary effort of voluntary rural fire fighters who work tirelessly for their communities. For me, this illustrates a ‘sense of community’ in the most authentic way. They show, by their actions, the importance of community and how it is a given that it must be protected.
Unfortunately, this summer has also demonstrated the vulnerability of many inland communities to unpredictable water supply both for their economic survival and – in some cases – their basic day-to-day human water needs.
In prevention we talk about the potential power of an engaged and committed community both in an advocacy sense (think HIV) and in achieving and sustaining change. We have seen excellent examples of prevention strategies built around community activation in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia and many individual community examples elsewhere.
This must form part of our national prevention approach; supporting such community-led approaches almost regardless of the particular health problem can only have broader co-benefits.