Key messages

  • Councils are ideally placed to develop, lead and implement local policies to influence many determinants of health.
  • Climate change is a leading threat to public health and wellbeing.
  • Councils are required to ‘have regard to climate change’ when preparing municipal public health and wellbeing plans.
  • Guidance is available to support councils in addressing climate change and its impacts on health through their municipal public health and wellbeing plans.

Local government legislative obligations

Under the Climate Change Act 2017, councils are required to ‘have regard to climate change’ when preparing a municipal public health and wellbeing plan (MPHWP).

Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, councils are required to prepare a four-year municipal public health and wellbeing plan within 12 months after each general election of the council, and are required to have regard to the state public health and wellbeing plan when preparing a MPHWP.

The Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019-2023 recognises that climate change is a leading threat to health and wellbeing and tackling climate change and its impact on health is included as one of four key focus areas in the plan.

Guidance for municipal public health and wellbeing planning

The Tackling climate change and its impacts on health through municipal public health and wellbeing planning: Guidance for local government, 2020 has been developed to assist councils in meeting their legislative obligations.

It draws on the current scientific understanding of climate change and its impacts on health and councils’ experiences to date. It highlights opportunities for councils to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of their communities through climate change action and builds on the significant work that councils are already delivering across Victoria.

The guidance provides examples of strategies across a number of theme areas that could be taken by councils, as well as a number of case studies of strategies that have been implemented by Victorian councils. The theme areas include:

  • leadership, governance and council assets
  • communication, engagement and capacity building
  • emergency management
  • environmental health services, surveillance and monitoring
  • built and natural environments
  • healthy and sustainable food systems
  • improving mental health and wellbeing and preventing family violence.

This guidance is a supplement to the department’s guidance on municipal public health and wellbeing planning and should be read in conjunction with such guidance.

Resources

This guidance includes a number of infographics about climate change in Victoria, the impacts of climate change on health and climate change and health co-benefits. These are also available for download below and could be used in presentations, newsletters, plans and reports.

The infographics are also available in PNG format which may be more suitable for certain applications and can be requested by emailing the Environmental Health Policy and Risk Management Unit at environmental.healthunit@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Contact details