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Mental Health and Wellbeing - Climate Emergency

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 September 2021

Tags: Climate Change, Mental Health, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, last week a veritable who's who of Australian sport launched an incredibly important campaign called The Cool Down, Protecting the Future of the Planet, the Future of Sport. They took out full-page advertisements in major newspapers.

Dear Australia,

We are a sporting nation, we play sport, we watch sport, we love sport.

It was spearheaded by former Wallabies captain, David Pocock, but he was joined by 250 other luminaries of Australian sport. They were very clear that,

Our Australian way of life, including sport at every level, is jeopardised

Minister, last week you voted against our climate emergency motion in the House and the Premier accused us of scaring children and accusations of brainwashing were also bandied about. Do you agree these people, that young children who are reading their sports leaders coming out and demanding we treat the climate emergency with the severity that we have to, would be appalled at the idea that talking about a climate emergency is scaring them?

Do you agree, as the Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, we have to elevate the conversation about the climate emergency and talking about science is not scaring children, that they want us to show that leadership?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I appreciate the question. I think we may well have spoken about this, you might have asked me a question last week in the parliament. More specifically, it is the responsibility of the Minister for Climate Change, the Premier, who has agreed to talk about climate change and his responsibilities this week. That responsibility will go to Mr Jaensch, the Minister for Environment.

Dr WOODRUFF - Sure, but you voted against it in the context that it was scaring children. That was the context of the debate and you chose to vote against it, when I think you understand very well children want leadership. It is our Australian sports leaders who are saying we have to take bold action. They are saying sport at every level is being jeopardised. You cannot get much more serious than that for young people.

Mr ROCKLIFF - It is very important we do listen to young people and their concerns. When I was minister for Education there were climate change or climate emergency rallies that students participated in across the state. I thought that was appropriate, provided everyone knew where the young people were, in terms of their demonstration of their views about climate change or climate emergency. Coming out of the classroom to speak about climate change and climate emergency was the appropriate thing to do, to allow that to happen. We can listen to the voices of our young Tasmanians.

Recently, we released the Tasmanian Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, recognising the importance of the environment and climate change to child and youth wellbeing. That included, in terms of strategy, an action on the Youth Climate Leadership Program to inspire, educate and empower young leaders and supporting young people within the context of changing climate.

Eco anxiety, for example, is an emerging issue. There is not yet a strong understanding of this issue in the medical community, nor is there systematic data collection to determine its prevalence across the population. The Department of Health will continue to monitor emerging evidence and further work being undertaken in relation to understanding the mental health impacts on young people in the context of a changing climate.

Our Budget, to your question, would suggest we support climate change action through our $10 million over four years to deliver on the New Climate Change Action Plan 2021 26, which will be released later this year. The action plan will identify practical actions to support business, industry, community and government, including health services, to reduce emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change, so we would never dismiss the voices of young people when it comes to these matters.