Victoria must do more to protect vulnerable residents from dangerous polluted air, as climate change worsens and the state’s population grows.
Air pollution is a danger to all people, but is a more severe threat to children and people already experiencing ill-health or disadvantage.
This includes people with pre-existing medical conditions, people who are homeless, those living in poor quality housing and residents of more barren (or less “leafy”) areas of Victoria.
In a submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Inquiry into Health Impacts of Air Pollution, VCOSS is calling for “urgent action to protect those most exposed and most susceptible to air pollution”.
VCOSS recommends the Victorian Government:
- Builds extra air quality monitoring stations across the Melbourne suburbs and in major regional centres.
- Does more to warn residents when local air is contaminated, including using the official Emergency Alert system.
- Upgrades childcare centres, schools, aged care facilities, social housing properties and medical centres to better protect people from dangerous air.
- Creates a network of local climate-adapted community facilities where people can seek refuge from polluted air.
- Establishes more parks and plants more trees in low-income communities and areas with poor quality air, and
- Funds community organisations to hand out free face masks, or provide other supports, in times in need.
Emma King, CEO, Victorian Council of Social Service:
“Nothing is more basic than a person’s right to breathe clean air.
“The air you breathe shouldn’t make you sick.
“With the world heating, Victoria must act now to protect vulnerable people from the worst effects of polluted air.“