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MedConnect x Sci-Fi Series | Elevating health in the climate debate

10 April 2024
6.00pm – 8.30pm AEST
Roundhouse, UNSW Sydney
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MedConnect x Sci-Fi Series

As we grapple with the increasing consequences of climate change, experts are warning that it’s not just an environmental issue, declaring it the ‘biggest global health threat of the 21st century’.

In the face of these warnings, where does Australia stand in its preparedness to address these health challenges, both locally and globally?

In a discussion led by ABC’s climate and health reporter, Tegan Taylor, hear from experts on how disasters such as bushfires and droughts, which are heightened by climate change, are triggering a spectrum of health risks - from infectious diseases to respiratory issues, and mental health challenges - with the vulnerable minority and at-risk groups bearing a disproportionate burden.

The panel will discuss the critical intersection of climate change and public health, while exploring solutions for collective action from government, industry and society.

Georgia Behrens MD MScPH

Dr Georgia Behrens MD MScPH

Assistant Director - National Health, Sustainability and Climate Unit

Georgia is Assistant Director in the Australian Government’s National Health, Sustainability and Climate Unit. She has worked in climate change and health in a wide variety of advocacy, research, and policy roles. She trained and worked in clinical medicine, before completing an MSc Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a General Sir John Monash Scholar.

Guy Marks AO

Scientia Professor Guy Marks AO

Physician and epidemiologist, Woolcock and UNSW Medicine & Health

Guy Marks AO FAHMS is Scientia Professor at UNSW Sydney and an NHMRC Investigator Fellow. He is a respiratory physician (pulmonologist), public health physician and epidemiologist. Since 2019, he has been President of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. His clinical practice at Liverpool Hospital includes clinical and public health management of people with TB. His research, both in Australia and in Vietnam, focuses on public health approaches to ending tuberculosis as well as the health effects of air pollution, safe air, and chronic respiratory disease.

Ben Newell

Professor Ben Newell

Director, Institute for Climate Risk and Response, UNSW Sydney

Ben Newell is Director of the UNSW Institute for Climate Risk & Response and a Professor in the School of Psychology at UNSW Sydney. His researchfocuses on the cognitive processes underlying judgment, choice and decision-making. His role in the Institute is to drive an interdisciplinary research agenda bringing together expertise from behavioural science, climate science, economics and governance to address the risks and opportunities of climate change. He has published multiple articles at the intersection of psychology and climate change, with particular focus on the understanding of uncertainty and risk. Ben is lead author of the books Straight Choices: The Psychology of Decision Making, and Open Minded. Ben is a member of the Academic Advisory Panel of the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA), and was part of the Chief Medical Officer’s advisory group for the National Health and Climate Strategy.

Dr Chloe Watfern

Dr Chloe Watfern

Research Fellow, Black Dog Institute

Dr Chloe Watfern is a transdisciplinary researcher with training in psychology, art, and qualitative social research. Her current focus is on the intersections between mental health and the natural environment, particularly in the context of climate change. She has presented, published, and led creative workshops on this topic for a range of audiences, from climate scientists and psychiatrists to young people. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Black Dog Institute and a Research Associate of the Knowledge Translation Strategic Platform of the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE).

Tegan Taylor

Tegan Taylor (Host)

ABC health and science reporter and co-host of the ABC’s multi-award-winning Coronacast.

Tegan also co-hosts ABC Radio National’s Health Report and hosts the live event series and radio/podcast Ockham’s Razor. She’s been known to pop up on Radio National Life Matters, Triple J and in the Best of Australian Science Writing. In 2020, Coronacast won a Walkley Award and the Eureka Prize for Science Journalism. Tegan was previously a producer on the ABC's national digital newsdesk, a journalism lecturer at The University of Queensland and, long ago, a newspaper reporter.