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Barb Vernon

CEO, Women's and Children's Healthcare Australasia

"Australia is a clever and resilient country. My vision is to see these talents applied in creative ways to tackle the global challenge of climate change. The Australia I dream of will be making and using 100% renewable energy in all areas of society, government and the economy. We will be a net exporter of renewable energy, helping neighbouring nations to access clean energy too."

Barb Vernon is the CEO of Women’s and Children’s Healthcare Australasia (WCHA), a partnership of two not-for-profit organisations that support their respective hospital members to share information, expertise and innovations to improve care and outcomes for women, newborns, children, young people and their families.  

"We host more than 40 networking groups to help service leaders and clinicians to share innovative strategies for addressing common challenges as well as service redesign improvements that are making a difference to the safety, quality and effectiveness of care. We also assist members to connect with peers who are doing well in areas they want to improve upon, to adopt and adapt proven models to their local context."

Recognising that the institutions and resources required to provide healthcare have significant environmental impacts, estimated at 7% of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions, WCHA are helping their members to connect and share strategies for reducing waste production, energy consumption, and the environmental impacts of their services.

"Our members have become increasingly interested in taking action to reduce the environmental impacts of their work and workplaces while retaining the ability to provide safe, high-quality care to women, children and families. Although climate change can feel like a problem that is too big for individuals to solve, awareness has risen in recent years that the small changes made by many people make a measurable difference."

Barb shared that she would like to see the Federal Government acknowledge the urgency of climate change and its particular risks to all Australians’ health and wellbeing. 

“If we are serious about the health and wellbeing of our children, we must be serious about preventing further climate change. The Federal Government needs to commit to and implement a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. And to get there, they need to measure and be accountable for progress on:

  • Transitioning communities dependent on coal mining and exploitation to sustainable alternative local industries;
  • Promoting and facilitating the adoption of electric vehicles for both private and public transport, fuelled by renewable energy sources;
  • Providing resources and incentives for remaining habitats for biodiversity to be retained and significantly expanded;
  • Supporting less developed countries in our region to achieve net zero emissions on at least the same timelines as Australia; and
  • Addressing the inequitable impacts of climate change on disadvantaged groups and communities."

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